About David Westenberg

David Westenberg

Prof, asoc
Biological Sciences
202 Schrenk Hall

573-341-4798 | djwesten@mst.edu | Personal site


Dr. Dave Westenberg is Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Missouri University of Science and Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles. He spent two years in Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and four years as a USDA post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth College. His laboratory primarily focuses on the role of rhizosphere microorganisms on plant nutrition and bioremediation with an emphasis on the Bradyrhizobium japonicum/soybean symbiosis. The goal of this research is to utilize the synergistic interaction between bacteria and their host plants to enhance crop yield, plant nutrition and removal of toxic materials. His laboratory has additional projects studying the antimicrobial properties of bioactive glass and oil smoke vapors. His laboratory has been funded by the Missouri Research Board, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, USDA and Dow Chemical. He co-directed the Missouri S&T Science Education and Quantitative Literacy professional development program for K-12 teachers and has taught teacher workshops for the BioBuilder Foundation. He has been active in microbiology education as part of the ASM Scholars-in-Residence Program (Biology Scholars) and chaired the ASM Committee for K-12 Outreach for seven years. He has received numerous awards for teaching and advising including the 2020 ASM Carski Award, the Class of 42 Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award and Alumni Outstanding Advisor Award from the Missouri S&T Alumni Association, the Distinguished Advisor Award from the Missouri S&T Student Life and the 2017 Science Educator Award from the Academy of Sciences, Saint Louis. He was named a Missouri S&T Deans Teaching Scholar, National Academy of Science Education Fellow in Life Sciences and an HHMI Biointeractive Higher Education Teacher Ambassador. He has given educational presentations and organized symposia at local, regional and national conferences. In addition to his research and teaching he is the advisor to the Missouri S&T chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success, co-advisor to Helix, the S&T Biology Student organization, and the Missouri S&T IGEM, synthetic biology student design team.


Research interests

Microbial diversity

Legume symbiosis, Rhizoremediation, Quorum sensing

Antimicrobial materials, Antimicrobial treatments

Microbiology education, Active Learning

Awards and recognition