Rachel Brooks

School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Rachel Brooks graduated from Virginia Tech with a Ph.D. from the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences in May 2020. Rachel is now a Forest Health Scientist with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Rachel first worked as a contractor with Dr. Scott Salom collecting hemlock woolly adelgids (Adelges tsugae) and their beetle predators in Washington State.  She began her Ph.D. study with Dr. Salom in ___ to study how the invasive Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) can be controlled by fungi (Verticillium nonalfalfae and V. dahlias).


A New Hampshire native, Rachel obtained a Bachelors of Science at the University of Vermont studying environmental science. As an undergraduate, she discovered her love of scientific research working as a technician in a biology lab and then running her own undergraduate research experiment at Harvard Forest. Her project studied the impacts of environmental pressures on the aquatic communities found within the northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) and how proteomics can be used to monitor these changes.

Following graduation, Rachel set out to determine how she would like to continue her career as a scientist. She spent the next five years testing out different positions. She worked for the University of Minnesota’s BioCON and B4Warmed research projects, a non-profit land conservancy in New Hampshire, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Washington State’s Thurston County Health Department.