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Anna Furches

Bioenergy and Biofuels


Supervising Faculty: Wellington Muchero and Scott Retterer

Anna is pursuing a PhD Energy Science and Engineering. She is researching the molecular cell signaling mechanisms that facilitate communication between plant hosts and microbes at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying plant phylogenetics and population genetics for her Master's degree, she became a consultant on an ecological project for a commercial microbiology lab (Assured Bio Labs). She was then hired as Lead Scientist at Assured Bio, and later became the Lab Manager. Although she had always had the goal of returning to grad school to pursue a PhD, serving as Lab Manager emphasized her desire to pursue additional scientific training. In 2014 she left Assured Bio to accept a Post-Master's position in genetic engineering at ORNL. While there, she learned of the research being conducted by the Plant-Microbe Interface group and transitioned into a Post-Master’s Research position there. Her experiences at ORNL opened the door to pursue a PhD.

In addition to conducting research, Anna is passionate about outreach to early career scientists and the public.


Molecular cell signaling mechanisms and immune responses involved in plant host-microbe interactions, with a focus on the implications for biofuel applications.


Master of Science, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee

Bachelor of Science, Plant Biology, University of Tennessee

Professional Service

  • The Committee on the Campus Environment, University of Tennessee (2016 – Present)
  • Invited Panelist: Commission for Women in STEM Research Symposium, University of Tennessee (2016)
  • Invited Panelist: Women in STEM, EEB @ University of Tennessee (2015)
  • Mentor for Student Research Projects, Botanical Society of America PlantingScience Program (2009, 2010)

Awards and Recognitions

  • Web of Knowledge Ideation Challenge - Thomson Reuters (2013)
  • Graduate Research Assistantship - Office of Research, University of Tennessee (2010)
  • Graduate Student Summer Research Funding - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee (2010)
  • Graduate Student Summer Research Funding - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee (2009)


Google Scholar Profile: Anna Furches

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