Valerie Oke

  • Teaching Professor and Assistant Chair


Office: (412) 624-4635
A230B Langley Hall
4249 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

As an instructor I am interested in using active learning techniques to engage students in material.  In my genetics and microbiology courses I intersperse lecture with in class problems and activities, and in some cases go “lecture free” during problem solving workshops.


My research background is in microbial genetics with a particular interest in microbial development.  As a graduate student I studied regulatory networks that control the formation of resistant spores by Bacillus subtilis.  As a postdoctoral fellow and then in my own lab, I worked on the formation of a special cell type called a bacteroid during the symbiotic interaction between Rhizobium bacteria and plants of the legume family.  This cell type is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which is provided as a nitrogen source to the plant in return for nutrients.  

Dr. Oke received her Ph.D. in 1994 with Richard Losick at Harvard University, performed her postdoctoral studies with Sharon Long at Stanford University, and joined the Department in 2000.