Dr. Sarah Meiss

Associate Professor

Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Sciences


Dr. Meiss grew up in Harrisburg, Pa., and went to college at nearby Bloomsburg University. She then traveled to Athens, Ohio, to earn her Ph.D. in plant microbe interactions at Ohio University. After she received her Ph.D., she got a job teaching biology at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. There, she taught courses in environmental microbiology, plant biology, and cellular and molecular biology. She then applied for and took a tenure-track job at PennWest California in 2007. Her research involves plant microbe interactions, specifically in an agricultural setting. She enjoys studying fungi and other organisms that live in the soil and interact with plants.


  • Principles of Biology
  • Botany
  • Biology of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Plant Physiology
  • Introduction to Environmental Science

Research Interests

Dr. Meiss studies agricultural crop plants and looks at how they interact with other organisms that are present in soil. She likes to examine how fungi and bacteria in the soil affect crop health and yield.

Read an article about Dr. Meiss and her research at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory.

Student Research Projects

  • Worked with a student on examining fungi products for their anti-cancer activity.
  • Advised a student who examined fungi and their ability to break down cellulose. The fungal species that broke down cellulose the best could be used to create alternative fuel for cars someday.
  • Spent a summer in Berkeley, Calif., working with two PennWest California students in the National Laboratory. They used new molecular techniques to see what types of fungi were in different soils.

In The Classroom

"I love to get my students involved in the lecture process. I try to constantly have them give feedback to me on what they think and what they know. I often have think-pair-share activities as well as in-class discussions."

  • B.S.: Biology Concentration, Microbiology, Bloomsburg University
  • Ph.D.: Environmental and Plant Biology, Ohio University

Email: meiss@pennwest.edu

Phone: 724-938-4203

Office: Frich Hall Room 326