Peter Kennedy
Office Address

1479 Gortner Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
United States



Interim Associate Dean for Research; Professor
Biology Teaching and Learning,
Ecology, Evolution and Behavior,
Plant and Microbial Biology

Our research integrates multiple biological disciplines: mycology and microbiology, ecology and evolution, and molecular biology and biochemistry. Though field sampling and experiments, along with greenhouse, growth chamber, and culture-based studies, we seek to mechanistically understand how both biotic and abiotic factors influence the structure and functioning of ecological communities.

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Research statement

Symbioses between microbes and other organisms play a central role in the ecology and evolution of life on Earth. My lab studies the diversity and function of fungal and bacterial communities in a wide range of ecosystems, particularly those forming belowground symbioses with plants. We use both field- and lab-based experimental methods to investigate how microbial communities are structured and their ecological roles in forest ecosystems worldwide.

Selected publications

Beidler K.V., Phillips R.P., Andrews E.*, Maillard F.*, Mushinski R.M., Kennedy P.G. 2020. Substrate quality drives fungal necromass decay and decomposer community structure under contrasting vegetation types. Journal of Ecology. 108(5), 1845-1859.

Maillard F., Schilling J.S., Andrews E*, Schreiner K.M., Kennedy P.G. 2020. Functional convergence in the decomposition of fungal necromass in soil and wood. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 96(2):fiz209.

Fernandez C.W., See C.R., Kennedy P.G. 2020. Decelerated carbon cycling by ectomycorrhizal fungi is controlled by substrate quality and community composition. New Phytologist, 226(2), 569-582.

Fernandez C.W., Heckman, K.A., Kolka, R., Kennedy, P.G. 2019. Melanin mitigates the accelerated decay of mycorrhizal necromass with peatland warming. Ecology Letters, 22: 498-505.

Lofgren L.A., Uehling J.K., Branco S., Bruns T.D., Martin F., Kennedy P.G. 2019. Genome‐based estimates of fungal rDNA copy number variation across phylogenetic scales and ecological lifestyles. Molecular Ecology, 28: 721-730.

Certano A., Fernandez C.W., Heckman K.A., Kennedy P.G. 2018. The afterlife effects of fungal morphology: contrasting decomposition rates between diffuse and rhizomorphic necromass. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 126: 76-81.

Cline L.C., Schilling J.S., Menke J., Groenhof E., Kennedy P.G. 2018. Ecological and functional effects of fungal endophytes on wood decomposition. Functional Ecology 32: 181-191.

Lofgren L., Nguyen, N.H., Kennedy P.G. 2018. Ectomycorrhizal host specificity in a changing world: can legacy effects explain anomalous current associations? New Phytologist 220:1273–1284.

Fernandez C.W., and P.G. Kennedy. 2018. Melanization of mycorrhizal fungal necromass structures microbial decomposer communities. Journal of Ecology 106: 463-478.

Fernandez C.F., Nguyen N.H., Stefanski A., Han Y., Hobbie S.E., Montgomery R.A., Peter B. Reich P. B., P.G. Kennedy 2017. Ectomycorrhizal fungal response to warming is linked to poor host performance at the boreal-temperate ecotone. Global Change Biology 23:1598-1609. 

Nguyen N.H., Song Z., Bates S.T., Branco S., Tedersoo L., Menke J., Schilling J.S., P.G. Kennedy. 2016. FUNGuild: An open annotation tool for parsing fungal community datasets by ecological guild. Fungal Ecology, 20:241-248.
Fernandez C.W., and P.G. Kennedy. 2016. Revisiting the ‘Gadgil Effect’: do interguild fungal interactions control carbon cycling in forest soils? New Phytologist, 209:1382-1394. 

Nguyen N., D. Smith, K. Peay, P. G. Kennedy. 2015. Parsing ecological signal from noise in next-generation amplicon sequencing. New Phytologist, 205: 1389-1393. 

Education and background

Degrees earned
  • B.S. - The Evergreen State College 1999
  • Ph. D. - UC Berkeley 2005

Curriculum Vitae

Awards and honors
  • C.I.E.S Fulbright Fellow, Colombia - 2019
  • Mycologial Society of America C.J. Alexopoulus Prize (Outstanding Research by an Early Career Mycologist) - 2015
  • International Mycological Association Buller Prize (Outstanding Young Mycologist from North America) - 2014
  • Mycological Society of America Martin-Baker Research Award - 2012
  • C.I.E.S Fulbright Fellow, Mexico - 2010
Teaching statement

In teaching, I strive to expose students to a variety of different learning opportunities, ranging from lectures and primary literature discussions to field- and laboratory-based research. My teaching philosophy includes: 1) providing opportunities for students to directly participate in the process of science, 2) stressing the importance of critical and quantitative thinking, 3) rooting knowledge in history, while at the same time stressing modern issues at the cutting edge of biology, and 4) sharing my deep enthusiasm for the diversity of life on earth.

Courses taught
  • Foundations of Biology (Biology 2003)
  • Plant, Algal, Fungal Diversity (Plant Biology 3007)
Research Seminars
  • 2020: Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, East Bethel, MN
  • 2020: National Autonomous University, Mexico City, MX
  • 2019: Centro de Investigacion Cientifico, Yucatan, Merida, MX
  • 2019: Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  • 2019: University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ
  • 2018: University of Oslo, Norway
  • 2018: Norwegian Life Sciences University, Norway
Professional experience
  • Assistant Professor, Lewis & Clark College 2007-2013
  • National Parks Ecological Research Post-doctoral Fellow, 2005-2007
Professional service
  • Mycological Society of America Councilor, Ecology/Pathology
Current grants
  • National Science Foundation