Marla Binzel, Ph.D., is the owner of Zia Tec LLC, a private research company specializing in the assessment of plant salinity and drought tolerance. She received her bachelor of science degree in plant sciences from the University of New Hampshire, and a Ph.D. in plant physiology from Purdue University.
Her research in the area of salinity began with her Ph.D. dissertation, “Cellular Mechanisms of Salinity Tolerance in Plants,” published in 1987. During post-doctoral training at Purdue, she initiated studies examining how the expression of genes associated with ion transport is altered by salinity. She joined the Texas A&M system in 1989, and during a career that spanned 22 years, held positions including associate professor, associate resident director of the Texas AgriLife El Paso Research Center, Director for the Center for Nutrition, Health and Food Genomics, and Chair of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences. During that time, she also served for three years as the manager for the plant response to the environment panel for the USDA-NRI Competitive Grants Program.
Binzel has authored over 20 refereed journal articles, made 18 invited presentations (international, state and industry), and served as the chair or co-chair for the training of seven graduate students. In 2003, she began her research into the salinity and drought tolerance of warm-season turfgrasses as a member of a multidisciplinary group focused on the genetic enhancement of turf grass species.
Binzel will be presenting findings regarding the enhanced capability of several of the new zoysia varieties developed by Bladerunner Farms to extract salt from the soil, as well as their superior salt tolerance.