BS, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Ph.D, Texas A&M University
My expertise is in the genetics and biochemistry of lipid signaling during plant defense responses. I was broadly trained in genetics, biochemistry, plant pathology, entomology, and multi-omic technologies to answer fundamental questions in agriculturally-relevant processes.
My research program seeks to elucidate the physiological and ecological roles of oxygenated lipids (oxylipins) in plant interactions with microbes, insects, and other stresses. Oxylipins are a chemical group of oxygenated lipids found ubiquitously throughout all kingdoms of life and possess potent signaling activity. With very few exceptions, their role in plants is largely unknown. The two best-studied plant oxylipins are jasmonic acid, a classic phytohormone involved in insect and pathogen defense, and green leaf volatiles, the smell of freshly cut grass used by plants to warn themselves and each other of incoming danger.
We utilize genetic, molecular, and biochemical approaches with genomic, transcriptomic, metabolomic, and lipidomic technologies to address problems such as insect and pathogen resistance and drought tolerance.
I also have extensive experience providing technical training, supervision, and mentoring to undergraduate students; across all my positions, I have trained 86 individuals with at least 10 having since received graduate degrees (5 Ph.D.) and four medical doctorates. As a first-generation college student, I believe that “education is the great equalizer” and have been inspired to encourage the advancement of diverse students through research training and professional development. Under the looming uncertainty of climate change, water scarcity, and an increasing human population, I am motivated to prepare the next generation of scientists to face the challenge of feeding the world.
I was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley and graduated high school from the Science Academy of South Texas in 2004. I earned a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2008, and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Texas A&M University in 2014. I started my adventures at RIT in the Fall of 2019.
In the News
December 3, 2021
Growing faculty diversity
RIT has modernized its approach to recruiting faculty members to improve representation. Assistant Professor Eli Borrego, pictured above, is an expert in the genetics and biochemistry of plant-microbe and plant-insect communication and ecology, and he was introduced to RIT through the Future Faculty Career Exploration Program.
RIT Undergraduate Students Receive Research Funding from Rochester Academy of Science
Emalee Wrightstone and Lexi Pyke (Biotechnology)
An essential part of the research process, two RIT undergraduate students, learn that the grant writing process is more of an art than a science.