Area of Expertise
Plant and mycorrhizal ecology, including that of the Orchidaceae.
Dr. Sharma is interested in understanding the ecological factors influencing the growth, distribution, and diversity of plants and how these factors are influenced by, or in turn influence, mycorrhizal fungi. Both molecular and field-based methods are used to investigate pertinent questions with respect to plant ecology and conservation, symbiotic plant-fungal interactions, and plant and fungal ecological genetics.
‘Globally, we are losing biodiversity. Orchidaceae is one of the largest plant families with an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 taxa, a majority of which are considered rare. A chance to contribute to their scientific study and conservation is satisfying,’ Dr. Sharma says. She believes that collaborative research, training of undergraduate and graduate students, and publishing scientific findings are basic to a research program.
Importance of Graduate Student Training
Training the next generation of scientists is a critical component of an academic research program. Dr. Sharma believes that Ph.D. students should be able to take the creative and experimental lead while receiving constructive guidance from their mentors. Overall, graduate education is an opportunity for students to conduct and communicate meaningful research in a supervised environment while s/he develops independent thinking skills.