Kennedy Odokonyero, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoc fellow


Research Interests

​My research interest revolves around exploring feedback processes related to Plant-soil-microbe interactions, with the aim of improving plant adaptation to environmental stresses and, potentially, enhancing agricultural productivity. I am fascinated by the way certain plant species survive under harsh arid environmental conditions, such as drought, heat, nutrient, and salinity stress. I am therefore prompted to delve into understanding the mechanisms that such plants employ in order to survive in such environments. In this quest, I focus on the role of microbiota (both microbes inside plants, i.e. endophytes; and rhizosphere microbes) in improving soil health (nutrient cycling), water or nutrient utilization and plant growth.
By applying methodologies and experience from plant biology, microbiology, soil, and molecular biology, I am interested in identifying novel technologies for precision agriculture that could address productivity constraints in water-limited areas in arid regions. To this end, my current research focuses on investigating the potentials of superhydrophobic sand mulches and other moisture-retaining polymers in reducing surface evaporation (hence irrigation); improving plant water-use efficiency and crop productivity in desert agriculture. Therefore, the cryptic interactions of plants and microbial assemblages within soil biome is investigated in view of interactions between water and hydrophobic surfaces.​​

Selected Publications

  • Kennedy Odokonyero, Adair Gallo Jr, Vinicius dos Santos, Himanshu Mishra. Effects of superhydrophobic sand mulching on evapotranspiration and phenotypic responses in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants under normal and reduced irrigation. Plant-Environment Interactions, April 2022, 00:1-15. DOI: 10.1002/pei3.10074
  • Adair Gallo Jr, Kennedy Odokonyero, Magdi A. A. Mousa, Joel Reihmer, Samir Al-Mashharawi, Ramona Marasco, Edelberto Manalastas, Mitchell J. L. Morton, Daniele Daffonchio, Matthew F. McCabe, Mark Tester, and Himanshu Mishra. Nature-Inspired Superhydrophobic Sand Mulches Increase Agricultural Productivity and Water-Use Efficiency in Arid Regions. Agricultural Science & Technology, February 2022. DOI: 10.1021/acsagscitech.1c00148
  • Kennedy Odokonyero, Adair Gallo Jr, and Himanshu Mishra. Nature-inspired wax-coated jute bags for reducing post-harvest storage losses. Scientific Reports, July 2021, 11:15354. DOI:10.1038/s41598-021-93247-z
  • Kennedy Odokonyero, Tina Botwright Acuña, Juan Andres Cardoso, Juan de la Cruz Jimenez and Idupulapati Madhusudana Rao. Fungal endophyte association with Brachiaria grasses and its influence on plant water status, total non-structural carbohydrates and biomass production under drought stress. Plant and Soil, 2016, 409: 273–282. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-016-2947-5
  • Odokonyero K, Acuña TB, Cardoso JA, Jimenez JDLC, Rao IM. Effect of endophyte association with Brachiaria species on shoot and root morpho-physiological responses under drought stress. Journal of Plant Biochemistry & Physiology, 2017a, 5: 190. DOI:10.4172/2329-9029.1000190
  • Kennedy Odokonyero, Tina Botwright Acuña,Juan Andrés Cardoso, Juan de la Cruz Jimenéz, Idupulapati Madhusudana Rao, Jonathan Nuñez and Jacobo Arango. Potential role of fungal endophytes in biological nitrification inhibition in Brachiaria grass species. Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Physiology, 2017b, 5: 191. DOI​: 10.4172/2329-9029.1000191​

Professional Profile

  • Currently: Postdoc Fellow, KAUST Interfacial Lab, WDRC, KSA
  • 2018: Research Consultant, KAUST Interfacial Lab, WDRC, KSA
  • 2016-2017: Research Fellow, Biosciences eastern and Central Africa- International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 2013-2016: PhD Research Fellow, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Headquarters, Cali, Colombia
  • January- February 2014: Research stay at BecA-ILRI Hub, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 2008-2011: Graduate (Secondary) Teacher and Head of Biology department, Bishop Angelo Negri College, Gulu, Uganda
  • 2005-2008: Teaching Assistant (Biology), Northland High School, Gulu, Uganda


  • 1st place ITAS Arab Youth Competition 2023 - International Conference on Innovation and Technological Advances for Sustainability, 1st place (out of 117 entries) at University of Doha for Science and Technology, Qatar, awarded by the Prime Minister of Qatar 
  • Taqadam 2022–2023 Start-up Accelerator Program - US $140,000 non-dilutive cash award (only 10 teams chosen among > 2000 applicants) 

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​Water Desalination and Reuse Center