UK researcher named an inspiring woman in plant biology

Aardra Kachroo in a greenhouse
Aardra Kachroo, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, discusses her research in chemical-free plant disease management. Photo provided by UK Research.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 30, 2024) — A plant pathologist in the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has been recognized by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) as an inspiring woman in plant biology.

Aardra Kachroo, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology in the Martin-Gatton College was nominated for her research on plant immunity and for “selflessly serving to empower women in science and plant biology.”

“I am honored to be recognized amongst this incredible cohort of women in science and grateful for those who nominated me,” said Kachroo. “Our collective passion as well as that of the many plant science stalwarts not named here, offers a bright future of scientific discoveries that will improve our world and benefit all lives.”

The ASPB Women in Plant Biology Committee called for nominations of “remarkable women who shape the field” to highlight career achievements and celebrate their impact in plant biology.

“Aardra Kachroo’s research at the University of Kentucky focuses on unraveling the molecular mechanisms of plant immunity,” wrote one nominator. “Using molecular biology and genomics, she explores how plants recognize and defend against pathogens, offering insights crucial for enhancing crop protection and global food security.”

“I am privileged to receive guidance from a remarkable woman who has truly been a beacon of inspiration on my journey,” submitted another nominator.

Kachroo uses various plants and pathogens to research how primary metabolic and defense signaling pathways are connected to solve agricultural problems. Her lab focuses on systemic acquired resistance (SAR) — a signaling mechanism that provides widespread plant immunity and can be passed on to other generations of plants and ones nearby.

Kachroo’s lab also explores SAR and the recently identified root-shoot-root signaling mechanism that regulates the associations between legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria on roots.

In addition to her research, Kachroo also serves on the board of the Kentucky Association of Professional African American Women while being an advocate and mentor. She also leads a biotech company that develops sustainable and environmentally friendly pest management products for plants.

Kachroo was recognized among other mid-career researchers. You can find ASPB’s full list here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.