Alumni Highlights


Katerina Lay at work in the lab



Katerina Lay was a participant in the Plant Genomics program during summer 2013. Katerina performed research with Dr. Eva Farre on the mechanisms that regulate circadian rhythms in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. She graduated from Clemson University in 2014 with a degree in genetics. Following graduation, Katerina worked as a research technician on several plant-related projects at Clemson before returning to MSU fall 2015 to join the Genetics Graduate Program. Welcome back Katerina!!!


Abigail Miller presenting by her MidSURE poster



Abigail Miller is an MSU senior majoring in Biochemistry. She was an REU participant in 2014 and performed a research project under the guidance of Rob Last and Pengxiang Fan in which she studied the biochemical properties and evolution of enzymes required for acylsugar biosynthesis in the glandular trichomes of tomato and closely related wild relatives. In 2015, Abigail was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists to continue her research. At the end of 2015, Abigail's research was published in PNAS!!!


Mollie Enright next to her 2014 MidSURE poster



Mollie Enright was an REU participant in 2014 where she performed research under the guidance of Dr. Dan Jones. Mollie used preparative high performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry followed by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to purify and structurally characterize trichome derived acylsugars from petunia. Acylsugars are plant specialized metabolites that are important for defense against insect pests. Mollie graduated in 2015 with a degree in chemistry from Gordon College and now works as a program manager at Beyond Benign, a non-profit organization that specializes in developing curricular and outreach programs to teach students and the public about green chemistry.


Matt Simenc head shot



Matt Simenc studied Botany at Humboldt State University and participated in the Plant Genomics REU program during the summer of 2013. Matt worked in the Shiu lab where he utilized computational approaches to predict essential genes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Research that Matt contributed to was published in 2015 in The Plant Cell. In fall 2015, Matt begins a Masters program at Cal State Fullerton where he will work on genome annotation under the guidance of Joshua Der.



Sam Lotz presenting a poster to Dr. He



Sam Lotz participated in the Plant Genomics program during summer 2013 and performed research with Dr. David Kramer to investigate the photosynthetic properties of Arabidopsis knockout mutants in genes of unknown function using advanced spectroscopic techniques. Sam graduated in 2014 with a degree in bioinformatics from Slippery Rock University. He liked his experience at MSU so much that he decided to join the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as a graduate student where once again, he is working with David Kramer and utilizing photosynthetic phenotyping to understand genetic adaptation.



David Hufnagel pictured in the gardens




David Hufnagel graduated from MSU with a degree in Molecular Genetics and Genomics. During his REU experience, David worked in the Barry lab on a project to examine terpene diversity in the trichomes of wild relatives of tomato. His research culminated in a publication in the Plant Journal. Following completion of his REU experience, David joined the Shiu lab at MSU where he developed skills in bioinformatics and contributed to several papers related to genome annotation and gene and genome evolution. Following graduation, David joined the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Program in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University where he is a graduate student working with Dr. Matthew Hufford on the hybridization and evolution of teosinte, an ancestor of modern maize varieties.


Head shot of Julia Miller



Julia Miller participated in Plant Genomics @ MSU in 2012 and worked in the Barry lab on a project to characterize a mutant of tomato that alters fruit quality. Julia graduated from MSU in 2014 with a double major in Plant Biology and Molecular Genetics and Genomics and is currently a graduate student in Plant Biology at Cornell University where she is working with Dr. Leon Kochian on the mechanisms that mediate aluminum tolerance in crop plants. In 2015, Julia was awarded a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to support her studies.