Controlled Environment Agriculture Center

Research, Instruction & Extension for Producing Crops
With Sustainability, Efficiency & Eco-Friendliness
Research Associate


Dr. Roger Kern is a microbiologist and biotechnologist experienced in a variety of aspects of plant growth and microbial-plant interactions. He received his B.A. in Biology from the University of California at San Diego and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California at University of California Davis.  Over the course of his multifaceted career he has worked with plant systems as well as microbes.  This has included: 1) Greenhouse hydroponic studies of the nutritional requirements of the aquatic fern Azolla; 2) Greenhouse and Environmental Chamber studies of plant- microbe interaction with microbes as they relate to nitrogen nutrition in soybean and alfalfa, and; 3) The development, for the NASA Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Lander, of a robotic greenhouse for demonstration of plant growth on the surface of Mars.  As Principal Investigator of the Mars Greenhouse Experiment Module (Mars GEM), he was responsible for the initial concept and managing the design of a fully automated greenhouse for the culture of the widely-studied model plant Arabidopsis.  He continues to promote concepts for plant experiments on Mars.  However, his current research interests also include the study of the role and application of microorganisms in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).  His particular interest is in CEA recirculating hydroponic systems with the goal of minimizing use of water, fertilizer, and energy consumption of these systems.  Currently his focus is on the impact of microorganisms, both positive and negative, on controlled environment agriculture, with specific emphasis on organic hydroponic vegetable production under controlled environment conditions.

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