About David Westenberg

David Westenberg

Curators distinguished profess
Biological Sciences
202 Schrenk Hall

573-341-4798 | djwesten@mst.edu | Scholars' Mine Profile


Dr. Dave Westenberg is 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.

The Westenberg laboratory also has projects in collaboration with colleagues across campus. The lab is currently studying the antimicrobial properties of bioactive glass with colleagues in material science and engineering. Past projects include the antibacterial properties of oil smoke vapors, the interaction of metals with microbes, the use of bacteria to recycle concrete waste and enhance soil properties, and the use of microbes for biofuel production. The laboratory has been funded by the Missouri Research Board, Missouri S&T Materials Research Center and Center for Biomedical Research, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, USDA. Pegasus Corporation and Dow Chemical.

Dr. Westenberg co-directed the Missouri S&T Science Education and Quantitative Literacy professional development program for K-12 teachers. He has taught teacher workshops for the BioBuilder Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biointeractive program and has given educational presentations and organized symposia at local, regional, national, and international 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, advisor to the Humans vs. Zombies student organization, 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


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      Awards and recognition