I began my botany career at the tip of Africa while majoring in Botany at the University of Cape Town. I was given a chance to study the world-renowned fynbos during this time. At the end of my freshman year, I was given the chance to work with Dr. William Bond, a well-known plant ecologist at the University of Cape Town. We investigated whether fire intensity caused more plant regrowth in keystone Protea species in the fynbos. Given that natural fires frequented this Mediterranean region during the dry summer months, and that Proteas were important to the flower market in Europe, this project had important practical monetary value. After this experience, I was convinced that botanists lived very cool, artistic lives independent of the hustle and bustle of business and politics. So, I chose to pursue Honors and  Master of Science degrees in Botany. This exposed me to various cultures while I traveled around South Africa assisting others with field projects and embarking on a project of my own in commercial forestry near the Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa.

Afterward, I was privileged to come to the USA to study at the University of Kansas where I pursued a doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I had the privilege to accompany my mentor, Valery Terwilliger, to Barro Colorado Island in Panama, and to hike Wheeler Peak in Nevada, while assisting others with field work. Thereafter, I pursued a postdoctoral research experience with well-known ecosystems ecologist, Dave Evans, at the University of Arkansas while working on a team project at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.  I started my teaching career at Hope College in 2001 and served as a faculty member for eight years. During this time, I connected with well-known biochemists at the Plant Research Lab and the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department at Michigan State University. I was given the opportunity to work on a Chloroplast 2010 project with Dr. Tom Sharkey at Michigan State University in the summer of 2008. Then the recession hit! After struggling to find another tenure track position, and not willing to move my family frequently for short-term contract teaching positions across the country, I stayed in Holland to raise our daughters. My husband did factory work to pay the bills while I stayed at home to raise the kids.  I continued to perform experiments using a microscope and read the scientific literature. Our daughters grew into bold teenagers, and a decade passed without noticing it. In 2019, with a federal loan granted by the Department of Education, I enrolled in a Master of Science in Health Analytics program at Northwestern University, I am currently gaining skills in database design and management, statistics, and analytics in the health care industry. This summer, I am working on writing a book to help non-scientists understand how the scientific process is implemented, and why we should continue to invest taxpayer’s dollars to fund basic and applied scientific research in all fields. I hope to work as an analyst for a government agency once I graduate with my Master of Science degree in Health Analytics.

Institution/Company: Previous faculty member at Hope College

Career Status:
Graduate Student

Research Areas:


Weise S.E., Carr D.J., Bourke A.M., Hanson D.T., Swarthout D., Sharkey T.D. (2015) The arc mutants of Arabidopsis with fewer large chloroplasts have a lower mesophyll conductance.

Photosynthesis Research 124(1):117-26.

Swarthout, D., Harper, E., Judd, S., Gonthier, D., Stowe, T., Shyne, R., Bultman, T. (2009) Water-use efficiency and photosynthesis in drought stressed endophyte-infected and non-infected Tall fescue grasses. Environmental and Experimental Botany 66: 88-93.

Verburg, P., Arnone III, J.A., Obrist, D., Schorran, D.E.,  Evans, R.D.  Le Roux-Swarthout, D., Johnson, D.W. ,  Luo, Y.,  Coleman, J.S.. (2004) Net ecosystem carbon exchange in two experimental grassland ecosystems. Global Change Biology 10: 498-508.

Le Roux-Swarthout, D., Terwilliger, V., Martin, C.E. (2001). Deviation between d13C and leaf intercellular CO2 concentrations in Salix interior cuttings developing under low light. International Journal of Plant Science 162: 1017-1024.     

Le Roux-Swarthout, D., V. Terwilliger, M. C. Christianson, C. E. Martin, and S. Madhavan (2001). Carbon isotopic ratios of atmospheric CO2 affect the d13C values of heterotrophic growth in Nicotiana tabacum. Plant Science 160: 563-570.

Terwilliger, V., Kitajima, K, Le Roux-Swarthout, D, Mulkey, S., and Wright, S (2001). Influence of heterotrophic and autotrophic resource use on carbon and hydrogen isotopic compositions of tropical tree leaves. Stable Isotopes in Health and Environmental Studies 37:133-160.

Terwilliger, V., Kitajima, K, Le Roux-Swarthout, D, Mulkey, S., and Wright, S (2001). Intrinsic water use efficiency and heterotrophic investment in leaf growth of two Neotropical pioneer tree species as estimated from d13C values. New Phytologist 152:267-281.

Le Roux-Swarthout, D., Terwilliger, V., Christianson, M., Martin, C. and Madhavan, S. (2000) Carbon Isotope discrimination correlates with a range of ratios of phosphoenolpyruvate to total carboxylase activities found in two C3 species. Journal of Plant Physiology 157: 489-493.

Le Roux, D., Stock, W.D., Bond, W.J. and Maphanga, D. (1996) Dry mass allocation, water-use efficiency and d13C in clones of Eucalyptus grandis, Eucalyptus grandis X camaldulensis and Eucalyptus grandis X nitens under two irrigation regimes. Tree Physiology 16: 497-502.

February, Ed., C., Stock, W.D., Bond, W.J. and Le Roux, D.J. (1996) Relationship between water availability and selected vessel characteristics in Eucalyptus grandis and two hybrids. IAWA Journal 16(3): 269-276.

Stock, W.D., Le Roux, D. and van der Heyden, F. (1993). Regrowth and tannin production in woody succulent karoo shrubs in response to simulated browsing. Oecologia 96(4): 562-568.

Olbrich, B., Le Roux, D., Poulter, A.G., Bond, W., Stock, W. (1993) Variation in water-use efficiency and d13C levels in Eucalyptus grandis clones. Journal of Hydrology 150:615-633.

Stock, W.D., Bond, W.J. and Le Roux, D. (1993). Isotopic evidence from soil carbon to reconstruct vegetation history in the south-western cape province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 89:153-154.

Bond, W.J., Le Roux, D. and Erntzen, R. (1990). Fire intensity and regeneration of myrmecochorous Proteaceae. South African Journal of Botany 56(3): 326-330.

Volunteer Activities

2004-2005: Career choices panellist (University of Notre Dame)

2006:  Career choices panellist (Michigan State University)

2008: Reviewer of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships for American Society of Plant Biologists.

Current Affiliations
Experience & Education