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Idaho State University



Rhesa Ledbetter

Rhesa Ledbetter, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor
Microbiology & Biochemistry

Office: Life Sciences 416



Curriculum Vitae


BIOL 1101 - Biology I
BIOL 5514 - Graduate Teaching Assistant Seminar

Biographical Sketch

I first remember garnering an interest for science in high school chemistry, when I found myself in a classroom full of girls, except the teacher. Mr. Best was a complete science geek, but through his enthusiasm and excitement, I somehow realized science is not just for nerdy boys (as my flawed logic thought), it is for anyone. Since then, I have actively sought ways to build my scientific career through education, research, and community outreach.

In my previous positions, as a community college Biology instructor and Ph.D. student in Biochemistry at Utah State University, I developed a passion for education and communication. Seeing that spark in a student's eye when a scientific concept “clicks” brings me so much joy, and that moment when someone who thought they were going to hate microbiology class finds that it actually relates to them inspires me.

My interest in science communication led me to volunteer at Utah Public Radio as a science reporter, where I wrote and produced stories for the web and radio. To me, communicating science to diverse audiences is essential and part of my responsibility as a scientist (it's fun too!).

As I begin my first faculty position here at Idaho State University, I look forward to using my scientific and communication training to help others gain a greater appreciation for science and achieve their educational goals. My research interests are in microbial transformation of the elements, with projects focused on biological nitrogen fixation and microbial mineral transformations. In addition to offering opportunities in scientific research, I am excited to work with students on enhancing their skills in science communication targeted to general audiences through writing and radio.

My passion for teaching and communication just might stem from growing up doing musical theater, which I love. I also enjoy experiencing other cultures through traveling, and hot-potting is always on my list of things to do (and yes, it’s partly to see the beautiful microbial mats)!


2018, Ph.D. Biochemistry, Utah State University, Logan, Utah
2007, M.S. Microbiology, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho
2005, B.A. Microbiology, Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho
2003, A.S. in Natural Science, College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, Idaho

Selected Publications

Y. Zheng, D. Harris, Y. Fu, Z. Yu, S. Poudel, R.N. Ledbetter, K.R. Fixen, Z.Y. Yang, E.S. Boyd, M.E. Lidstrom, L.C. Seefeldt, C.S. Harwood. 2018. A pathway for biological methane production using bacterial iron-only nitrogenase. Nature Microbiology, 3:281-286.

A.M. Garcia Costas, S. Poudel, A.F. Miller, G.J. Schut, R.N. Ledbetter, K.R. Fixen, L.C. Seefeldt, M.W.W. Adams, C.S. Harwood, E.S. Boyd, and J.W. Peters. 2017. Defining electron bifurcation in the Electron-Transferring Flavoprotein Family. Journal of Bacteriology, 199:e00440-17.

R.N. Ledbetter, A.M. Garcia Costas, C.E. Lubner, D.W. Mulder, M. Tokmina-Lukaszewska, J.H. Artz, A. Patterson, T.S. Magnuson, Z.J Jay, H.D. Duan, J. Miller, M.H. Plunkett, B.M. Barney, R.P. Carlson, A.F. Miller, B. Bothner, P.W. King, J.W. Peters, and L.C. Seefeldt. 2017. Electron bifurcation by the FixABCX complex of Azotobacter vinelandii: Generation of low-potential reducing equivalents for nitrogenase catalysis. Biochemistry, 56:4177-4190.

Z.Y. Yang, R. Ledbetter, S. Shaw, N. Pence, M. Tokmina-Lukaszewska, B. Eilers, Q. Guo, B. Bothner, J. Peters, and L.C. Seefeldt. 2016. Evidence that the Pi release event is the rate-limiting step in the nitrogenase catalytic cycle. Biochemistry, 55:3625-3635.

H. Summers, R.N. Ledbetter, A.T. McCurdy, M.R. Morgan, L.S. Seefeldt, U. Jena, S.K. Hoekman, and J.C. Quinn. 2015. Techno-economic feasibility and life cycle assessment of dairy effluent to renewable diesel via hydrothermal liquefaction. Bioresource Technology, 196:431-440.

R.N. Ledbetter, S.A. Connon, A.L. Neal, A. Dohnalkova, and T.S. Magnuson. 2007. Biogenic mineral production by a novel arsenic-metabolizing thermophilic bacterium from the Alvord Basin, Oregon, USA. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73:5928-5936.