Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University Molecular Plant Sciences
Raed Al Saharin

Email: raed.alsaharin@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Hellmann
Department: SBS
Alexander Alleman

Email: alexander.alleman@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2017
Advisor: Peters
Department: IBC

Alex joined the MPS program in January of 2017 after transferring from Montana State University’s biochemistry program. He received his undergraduate degree from Western State Colorado University in biochemistry and cell biology. Alex is passionate about studying the physiological processes and regulations of biological nitrogen fixation in soil bacteria. By studying nitrogenase and other proteins involved in cellular nitrogen fixation, Alex and the Peters group hope to find clues into how this complicated cellular process works. These insights will lead to new developments in agricultural technologies to help lessen the effect of the world’s nitrogen crisis.
J_Bengtsson 2014Jesse Bengtsson

Email: jesse.bengtsson@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Browse
Department: IBC

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech in 2014, where I double majored in Biochemistry and Chemistry. My previous research experiences have focused on PEG lipids for uses of a membrane bound nanoparticle for drug delivery, as well as unrelated work with a yeast two-hybrid system. My primary interest are in biochemistry and signaling. I am currently completing my rotations to explore my specific interests. A northwest native from Seattle originally, I enjoy running and exploring the cascades.
Korey Brownstein

Email: korey.brownstein@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Gang
Department: IBC

Korey received a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Missouri. After graduation, he went to the Ha Noi University of Agriculture, Viet Nam (the first American student admitted to this university) on a fellowship to discover new plants and their medicinal uses. In 2012, he was awarded the NSF GRFP to study ethno-phytochemistry. He is currently investigating the uses and chemical composition of Native American and Vietnamese medicinal plants.

Publications: Brownstein, K.J., Thomas, A.L., Rottinghaus, G.E., Lynch, B.A., Gang, D.R. and Folk, W.R. (2015) Harpagide and related iridoid glycosides in vegetative tissues of cultivated Scrophularia lanceolata and Scrophularia marilandica. Acta Horticulturae, in press.

Brownstein, K.J., Knight, M., Ito, Y., Rottinghaus, G.E. and Folk, W.R. (2015) Isolation of the predominant cycloartane glycoside, sutherlandioside B, from Sutherlandia frutescens (L.) R. Br. by spiral countercurrent chromatography. Journal of Liquid Chromatography and Related Technologies, 38, 423-429.

Jiang, J., Chuang, D.Y., Zong, Y., Patel, J., Brownstein, K., Lei, W., Lu, C.-H., Simonyi, A., Gu, Z., Cui, J., Rottinghaus, G.E., Fritsche, K.L., Lubahn, D.B., Folk, W.R. and Sun, G.Y. (2014) Sutherlandia frutescens ethanol extracts inhibit oxidative stress and inflammatory responses in neurons and microglial cells. PLOS ONE, 9, e89748.
Scott Carle

Email: scott.carle@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Garland Campbell
Department: CSS

Freezing-tolerance is a vital trait for production of wheat in temperate regions. However, cold stress is a difficult trait for breeders to consistently select for. Scott’s research aims to further elucidate the regulation of a major genetic pathway that controls freezing-tolerance in wheat, and also to develop practical markers for the trait to assist wheat breeding programs.
April Chen

Email: xiaoyue.chen@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2010
Advisor: Gang
Department: IBC

April is the 6th year MPS student in Dr. David Gang's lab in IBC. Currently she is working on elucidating Salvinorin A biosynthesis pathway in Salvia divinorum. Her research mainly focuses on discovering and characterizing enzymes involved in GGPP cyclization and salvinorin compound modifications and in elucidating the means by which such enzymes have evolved in this very unique and interesting plant.
Ryan Christian

Email: ryan_christian@wsu.edu
Enrolled: May 2013
Advisor: Dhingra
Department: HORT

I joined the MPS program in the fall of 2013 after graduating from the Honors College at Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Biotechnology. My research in Dr. Amit Dhingra’s lab focuses on characterizing a set of putative plastid-targeted proteins that are predicted to be involved in energy transduction and nucleic acid binding and are unique to apple (Malus x domestica).
Dannay_Rachel2Rachel Dannay

Email: rachel.dannay@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Sanguinet
Department: CSS

Rachel grew up near Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a dual major in Biology and Environmental Science. During her undergrad, she worked for Dr. Samuel Hazen researching the transcriptional regulation of secondary cell wall biosynthesis using Brachypodium distachyon. For her graduate research she is interested in root architecture in grasses. When not in the lab, she enjoys hiking, climbed, running, and yoga.
DeTar_RRachael DeTar

Email: rachael.detar@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Kirchhoff/Kunz
Department: IBC/SBS

Rachael graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a botany concentration from Colorado State University in 2014. She has a strong interest in the physiological and biological processes that drive and regulate photosynthesis and nutrient assimilation. Rachael looks forward to continuing her passion for research at WSU.


Vishnutej Ellur

Email: vishnutej.ellur@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Summer 2017
Advisor: W. Chen
Department: Pl Path

Vishnutej Ellur is a PhD student belonging to Raichur, Karnataka, India, who earned his B.Sc. (Agriculture) and M.Sc. (Agriculture) in Genetics and Plant Breeding degree from University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, Karnataka, India in 2013 and 2015 respectively. He was awarded with UASR Gold Medal for having secured the Highest OGPA in M. Sc. (Agriculture) in Genetics and Plant Breeding during the year 2014-15. He performed his masters research work at Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad, Telangana, India, where he studied cross-compatibility and characterization of interspecific hybrid between cultivated and wild diploid sunflower. In November 2016, he was awarded with the prestigious Netaji Subhas ICAR International Fellowship (NS-ICAR-IF), which is provided by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi to pursue his PhD at WSU. He joined Molecular Plant Science program and Dr. Weidong Chen’s lab in Summer 2017. His research focuses on “Genetics and mechanisms of resistance in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L)”
Matthew Garneau

Email: matthew.garneau@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2010
Advisor: Tegeder
Department: SBS

I am pursuing my PhD in molecular plant Science and co-advised by Mechthild Tegeder and Andy McCubbin. I am interested in the physiological roles of amino acid transporters during plant reproduction.
Nathan Grant

Email: ngrant@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Kulvinder Gill
Department: CSS

I am a third year MPS student working in Dr. Kulvinder Gill's lab as a research assistant. My current research project is working with heat stressed wheat by measuring/studying photosynthesis. Currently, I am finishing a project that involves mapping an Rht gene. I graduated from WSU in 2012 with my degree in agricultural biotechnology. GO COUGS!
Seanna Hewitt

Email: seanna.hewitt@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
PI/lab: Amit Dhingra
Department: HORT

Research interests: Food security is a growing issue that necessitates improving the sustainability of agricultural and postharvest systems. The amount of produce that goes to waste, both in the U.S. and throughout the world, is particularly astonishing. My research involves a taking time-course RNAseq and physiology-based approaches to understanding the mechanisms of ripening in non-model systems, primarily pear (Pyrus communis) and other climacteric fruit. The end goal is to uncover ways of reducing waste associated with unpredictable ripening.
Interests/Hobbies: When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy running, cycling, hiking, cliff jumping, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends, family and pets!
Kim Hixson

Email: kkhixson@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2009
Advisor: Lewis
Department: IBC

I am currently studying how changes in arogenate dehydrates composition in plants, affect the downstream or upstream transcript and protein changes in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Recent findings have pointed to arogenate dehydratase (ADT) as being the key enzyme or even a key regulation point in the production of phenylalanine (the starting compound in the phenylpropanoid pathway) in plant systems. Controlled carbon flux through the phenylpropanoid pathway someday may be a more environmentally sustainable strategy for producing a myriad of potentially useful chemicals such as high-energy fuels, sunscreens, cosmetics, and plastics. The Lewis group has recently produced several ADT knockout combinations in Arabidopsis that display significant physiological and chemical changes due to changes in ADT composition. To better understand the significant role of these ADTs, Ms. Hixson is currently analyzing the relative transcriptional and proteome changes in chloroplasts and at the whole cell level of leaves, stems, and root tissue at four different times (2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks) during the life of the plant. It is our hope that these data in combination with metabolomic and other chemical composition and physiological data obtained on the same plant tissues will reveal important enzymes that potentially contribute to carbon flux through the phenylpropanoid pathway or upstream and downstream regulatory controls that may be in place that are affected by ADT changes in Arabidopsis.
Andrew Horgan

Email: andrew.horgan@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Carter
Department: CCS

Andy Horgan graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a double major in Bioenvironmental Science and Soil & Crop Science. His research at WSU focuses on deciphering genetic regulation of spring growth and cold tolerance in winter wheat. Following graduation, Andy hopes to support the push for sustainability of international agriculture through traditional and molecular plant breeding techniques.
Fainmarinat Inabuy

Email: fima.inabuy@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2011
Advisor: Lang
Department: IBC

I'm a Fulbright scholar from Indonesia, and this is my fourth year in MPS. Currently I'm working in the group of medicinal-plants, in Dr. Mark Lange's lab. Focus of my research is to elucidate the roles of cytochrome p450 proteins in the biosynthesis pathway of Taxol biosynthesis in Taxus plant, through heterologous expression in yeast. Knowing that what we do nowadays, someday, will greatly contribute to the the treatment of cancer, one of the world's most deadly disease, encourage me personally to keep doing my best to this work. Beside the academic activities and lab experiments, i enjoy doing other"experiments" on weekends: trying different new recipes of foods and cakes, as well as singing in a choir and playing music.
C_Jacques (2)Caitlin Jacques

Email: caitlin.jacques@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Adviser: Neff
Department: CSS

Caitlin graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and a B.A. in German Philosophy. Her research at UW focused on conferring drought tolerance in various crop plants by utilizing hormone signaling and genetic diversity. Her main species of focus was Phaseolus vulgaris. She would like to continue her research in crop plants, specifically relating to crop yield in challenging conditions, such as extreme temperature, moisture deficit, and climatic factors. Caitlin is particularly interested in signaling and developmental pathways, as well as herbicide and pesticide resistance.
Skylar Johnson

Email: skylar.johnson@wsu.edu
Enrolled: May 2013
Advisor: Roje
Department: IBC

Skylar grew up in Gig Harbor, WA, and in spring 2013 she graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a B.S. in Biology. She’s currently working in the Roje lab on the affects of flavins on plant stress responses. Summer of 2015 she also participated in the NSF EAPSI program to do related research with a lab in Japan.
Kaan Koper

Email: kaan.koper@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Okita
Department: IBC

I am currently studying the structure-function relationship of higher plant ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPases). This enzyme catalyzes the rate limiting step of starch biosynthesis in plants and certain other mainly photosynthetic organism. In our study, we generate mutant AGPase enzymes with certain amino acid substitutions on known locations. Next we compare the enzyme kinetics, allosterism and assembly profile of the mutant enzyme with that of wild-type enzyme to assess the change in amino acid sequence to function and structure.

In the future, I am also going to work on TALEN technology which allows rapid, precise and efficient genome editing.
Erika Kruse

Email: erika.kruse@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Carter
Department: CSS

Erika is interested in crop improvement through breeding. Her current project involves understanding resistance to mold and cold in winter wheat. She’s identifying QTL for snow mold resistance and looking at patterns of sugar accumulation and gene expression as related to resistance to mold and cold.
Beyond her studies, Erika loves spending time in the great outdoors; running, hiking, and backpacking. Music is also near and dear to her heart, and she gets her fix not only from listening to music, but through singing and playing guitar. Reading, cooking, zumba, and yoga are a few of her other hobbies.
Yan Liu
Email: yan.liu4@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Knoblauch
Department: SBS

I am currently researching on a kind of phloem protein, forisome, in Dr. Knoblauch's lab. I love to work with green, leafy plants. I also like reading, cooking and hiking in my free time.
Maiporn Maipoka

Email: maiporn.maipoka@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Okita
Department: IBC

I obtained a B.S. in Biology from Prince of Songkla University and a M.S. in Botany from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. I joined MPS program and Professor Thomas Okita’s lab in Fall 2015. I am interested in plant responses to abiotic stress. I am currently studying role of an RNA-binding protein in stress tolerance in rice. I enjoy biking, trying new recipes of dessert and taking photo.
M_ Marcec (2)Matt Marcec

Email: matthew.marcec@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Tanaka
Department: Pl Path

Matthew is currently rotating through labs here at WSU. He received his masters degree from Northern Illinois University in plant sciences. He enjoys biking, hiking, martial arts, playing his bass guitar, and playing chess.
S_Martinez.2016Shantel Martinez

Email: shantel.martinez@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2013
Advisor: Garland Campbell/Steber
Department: CSS

Research Topic: Identify novel loci contributing to PHS (preharvest sprouting) and drought tolerance in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) with an emphasis on the role of the plant hormone ABA (abscisic acid) in controlling these processes. ABA is a plant stress hormone that 1) is involved in the establishment of seed dormancy and desiccation tolerance during embryo maturation, 2) induces stomatal closure and other drought responses under water limitation, and 3) contributes to cold and salt tolerance. Preharvest sprouting, the germination of mature grain on the mother plant when rainy conditions occur before harvest, is associated with low seed dormancy and low ABA sensitivity. Seed dormancy is the inability of fresh seed to germinate even under favorable environmental conditions, unless first exposed to dormancy breaking treatments such as after-ripening, cold stratification, and scarification. Furthermore, higher ABA sensitivity is associated with closed stomates and greater WUE (water use efficiency), a desirable trait under water limitation. ABA hypersensitive mutant Warm4 (Wheat ABA Response Mutant4) has increased seed dormancy associated with decreased transpiration, whereas Zak ERA8 (Enhanced Response to ABA8) is seed-specific, resulting in increased seed dormancy and PHS tolerance. The goal of this research is to improve PHS and drought tolerance in Washington wheat using both ABA mutants and the existing variation for these traits through three different approaches: 1) identify loci providing PHS tolerance in northwest germplasm by association mapping, 2) map the ERA8 locus that causes the ABA hypersensitive seed germination and PHS tolerance phenotypes of soft white spring Zak ERA8 wheat, and 3) examine whether higher ABA sensitivity and water use efficiency can be used to improve wheat drought tolerance.

Shantel has previously received a B.S. in Bioengineering and a M.S. in Crop Science here at WSU.
mcgowan_M2016Matthew McGowan

Email: matt.mcgowan@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Zhang
Department: CSS

Matthew graduated from Kansas State University with a M.S. in Biomedical Science in 2013 and continued working in Manhattan, KS on wheat doubled-haploid production and high-throughput genotyping for two years. He joined the MPS PhD program in Fall 2016 and is creating new computational tools in predictive genomics specifically for plant breeders.
Qingyan Meng

Email: qingyan.meng@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2017
Advisor: Norman G. Lewis
Department: IBC

I joined the MPS program in the spring of 2017. I graduated from the Southwest University for Nationalities, Chengdu, Sichuan, China with master’s degree in Organic Chemistry. My research in China mainly focuses on Chinese Traditional Medicine. But now in Dr. Lewis lab, I am working on metabolites analysis and putative enzymes and genes exploration.
Paul Mihalyov

Email: paul.mihalyov@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Pumphrey
Department: CSS

Paul Mihalyov is a third year MPS student in the Pumphrey lab. His primary focus is wheat breeding for resistance to stem and stripe rusts (Puccinia spp.) which are fungal pathogens with the potential to cause major yield losses for growers. Paul is interested in traditional aspects of plant breeding, but is also researching molecular plant-pathogen interactions in order to improve combat against wheat rusts. Before attending WSU, Paul received his B.S. in Genetics from New Mexico State University.
L_Moyo2 2015Lindani Moyo

Email: lindani.moyo@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Pappu
Department: Pl Path

Lindani Moyo is a Fulbright Scholar from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, he joined the Molecular Plant Sciences program in fall 2015. He is interested in plant biotechnology and plant-pathogen interactions. His current research in Dr. Hanu Pappu’s lab involves developing genomics resources for potato for virus resistance. Lindani holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Applied Biology and Biochemistry and a Master of Science in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology both from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Nicholas Mueth

Email: nicholas.mueth@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Hulbert
Department: Pl Path

Nicholas "Cole" Mueth is a fourth-year MPS student from St. Louis, MO. After three lab rotations during his first year, Cole joined the Hulbert Lab in the Plant Pathology department. He studies plant-pathogen interactions between wheat and Puccinia, an important group of parasitic rust fungi. By understanding the genetic and biochemical factors that determine pathogen success/failure, Cole hopes to uncover novel plant resistance strategies. He enjoys hiking and biking around the beautiful Northwest landscape.
Ragupathi Nagarajan

Email: ragupathi.nagarajan@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2013
Advisor: Kulvinder Gill
Department: CSS

My research project is to develop insertional mutagenesis system using active maize transposable elements in wheat. Before joining MPS program, I worked as a Research Associate in a Washington Grain Commission funded project to develop wheat transgenics for functional studies. Besides my research, I am interested in photography, movies and traveling.
Aaron Ogden

Email: aaron.ogden@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Summer 2012
Advisor: Kahn
Department: IBC

Symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) is a critical component of global agriculture, economics, fossil fuel consumption, and nitrogen cycling. The primary location of SNF is within the root nodules formed between members of the bacterial family rhizobiaceae and leguminous plants. To accomplish effective SNF the plant-bacteria pair must coordinate and maintain a drastic metabolic shift from a free-living to a symbiotic state. The progress of this shift can be visualized along the longitudinal axis of indeterminate nodules which at maturity contain metabolically distinct zones. Using both a proteomic and metabolomic approach, my research seeks to evaluate the hypothesis that these zones differentially express particular proteins and metabolites involved in SNF and nodule maturation. Furthermore, bacterial mutant constructs will be generated to explore the role of particular peptides and pathways found unique within each sub-nodule zone. This research will improve our understanding of the metabolism involved in the onset and regulation of SNF engendering its optimization for the more sustainable global agricultural of tomorrow.
Alexander Olson

Email: alexander.olson@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Rotating - NIH Biotech
Department:
J_Ortiz 2015Jessica Ortiz

Email: jessica.ortiz@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Neff
Department: CCS

I am a second-year graduate student interested in studying biochemical pathways in order to develop genetically improved crops. I earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Riverside. My undergraduate research involved the development of a morphological and molecular key for the classification of several species of Orasema (Hymenoptera: Eucharitidae) so they can be more accurately identified for potential use in biological control efforts against fire ants. I also earned a M.S. in Biochemistry from the California State University, Los Angeles where I worked on identifying T-DNA insertion sites in A. thaliana transgenic lines via TAIL-PCR and performed targeted mutagenesis in A. thaliana and O. sativa using CRISPR-Cas system.
Oung_OliviaHuimin Olivia Oung

Email: huimin.oung@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2015
Advisor: Kirchhoff
Department: IBC

Olivia graduated from National Taiwan University with a MS in Agriculture Chemistry. After she graduated she work in Academia Sinica in Taiwan for two years. She enjoys running and trying new sports activities.
Wade Roberts

Email: wade.roberts@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Roalson
Department: SBS

Research Topic: Evolutionary-developmental genetics of flower diversification in Achimenes (Gesneriaceae).

Achimenes is a small genus native to Mexico and Central America which displays remarkable variation in floral form among closely related species. There appear to be homoplastic derivations of shape, color, and corolla spurs possibly due to pollinator-mediated selection. In order to begin understanding how this variation evolved, I am taking a comparative approach across multiple species by combining transcriptome sequencing of developing flowers with phylogenetic, molecular genetic, and biochemical tools. Particular interest involves investigating the functional evolution of the enzymes and transcriptional regulators (MYB-bHLH-WD40) of the Anthocyanin Biosynthetic Pathway, which produces red, purple, and blue pigments.

Before attending WSU, Wade received a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Sculpture from Whitworth University.
S_Saeheng 2015Sompop Saeheng
Email: sompop.saeheng@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Spring 2015
Advisor: Roje
Department: IBC

I graduated BSc. Biology from Prince of Songkla University, Thailand (2012) and got MSc. Plant Genetic Manipulation from University of Nottingham, UK (2014). Generally, my background is plant taxonomy, palynology, and cancer epigenetics. Then, I moved to US and started working in Roje’s Lab. My current research is about folate metabolic enzymes in the photorespiration pathway. I like to live in a small and peaceful town, so I think Pullman quite suits me.
James Santiago

Email: james.santiago@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2011
Advisor: Tegeder
Department: SBS

I am looking at an amino acid transporter in the model plant Arabidopsis that we think is responsible for loading of amino acids into the source leaf phloem for long distance transport and how mutation of this transporter affect the whole plant metabolism and physiology including but not limited to Nitrogen and Carbon metabolism, sugar transport, and source-sink relations.
S_SchmidtSharol Schmidt
Email: sharol.schmidt@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Smertenko
Department: IBC

I chose WSU for graduate school because of the excellent plant science program and the close proximity to my hometown. I love the options for outdoor recreation here and I can still tend my booming vegetable garden in the tropical paradise of Lewiston, just 30 miles away. I work in Dr. Andrei Smertenko’s lab which looks at plant cell cytoskeleton. We have found a family of Arabidopsis proteins that interact with microtubules in vivo. I hope to uncover the role of these proteins during cell cycle stages through confocal imaging of transiently expressed proteins.
Erika Serrano

Email: erika.serranoromero@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Cousins
Department: SBS

I am researching Miscanthus Photosynthesis using Gas exchange measurements. In the future I will be working with another C4 biofuels crops such as corn and sugarcane.
Gracen Smith

Email: gracen.smith@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2011
Advisor: Browse
Department: IBC

We know surprisingly little about what fundamental biological processes are necessary for plant survival in low temperatures. Many studies in the past have used chilling sensitive plants as model organisms. I use a chilling tolerant plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, and screen mutations in the Arabidopsis genome to examine what happen when interruptions are made in genes necessary for normal low temperature growth, and why. I hope that my project will contribute to the discussion about how some plants survive low temperatures, while others exhibit stress responses, and/or die.
Rachel Snyder

Email: rachel.snyder@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Tegeder
Department: SBS
Brittney Wager

Email: brittney.wager@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Knoblauch
Department: SBS

Brittney is working in Dr. Michael Knoblauch's lab where she is researching the phytoremediation of radioactive strontium. Using plants to clean up contaminated soil and water is more environmentally friendly and cost effective than traditional physical and chemical methods. Her approach to this project includes the use of microscopy and molecular techniques.
Weed, R-3Rebecca Weed

Email: rebecca.holcomb@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2012
Advisor: Gang
Department: IBC

Hi! My name is Rebecca Weed. I am a fourth year graduate student in the MPS program where I work for Dr. David Gang in the Institute of Biological Chemistry. I research an invasive variety of a marshland grass, Phragmites australis, or Common Reed. I have traveled around the country, specifically the Northwest, Great Lakes, and New England regions every summer to document and collect specimens from native and invasive populations of this plant. Back in the lab I use a variety of techniques such as metabolite profiling and bio-assay guided fractionation to identify any potential allelopathic chemicals being produced by the invasive variety that aid it to out compete native varieties and other native grasses. When I am not working in the field or the lab, I enjoy traveling to different parts of the Northwest to hike, ski, fish, or catch a rock show or hockey game in Spokane with my husband.
B_williamson-benavides.16Bruce Williamson Benavides

Email: b.williamsonbenavid@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2016
Advisor: Dhingra
Department: HORT

I was born in Costa Rica, where I earned my BS in Biology from the University of Costa Rica. I joined the Molecular Plant Sciences program at WSU in the fall of 2016. I am working in Dr. Amit Dhingra's lab where I study the molecular interaction between peas and root rot disease. My research focuses on the development of molecular markers and new varieties via targeted and non-targeted mutagenesis. I enjoy playing sports, especially soccer and surfing, dancing and listening to ska music, scuba diving and spending time with friends!
Jordan Zager

Email: jordan.zager@wsu.edu
Enrolled: Fall 2014
Advisor: Lange
Department: IBC

Research Interest: Glandular trichomes, found on leaf surfaces of many plant species, act as microscopic chemical factories producing a wide range of specialized compounds known as secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites provide the plant with inborn pest resistance, act to attract pollinators, and have great economic value serving as flavoring agents, fuel derivatives, and medications— both traditional and western. Among the secondary metabolites synthesized in glandular trichomes of cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) are acyl sugars, flavonoids, mono- and sesquiterpenes. Flavonoids are known to be involved in a myriad of plant processes, including, among others, floral pigmentation, UV screening, polar auxin transport and defense reactions. It was recently demonstrated that the tomato anthocyanin free (af) mutant, which is impaired in the expression of the flavonoid biosynthetic gene chalcone isomerase (CHI), failed to accumulate both flavonoids and terpenoids, and also had a significantly reduced number of glandular trichomes. Using isolated glandular trichomes from cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and the af mutant, we have begun to unveil the coordinated mechanisms underlying the biosynthesis of these distinct compound classes. We have characterized flavonoid pathway intermediates accumulating in the af mutant and are now testing if these can regulate terpenoid enzyme activities in plastids. We are also integrating transcriptome, metabolome and enzyme kinetics data in both genome-scale stoichiometric and kinetic based mathematical models to more precisely predict flux distribution among metabolic pathways in glandular trichomes. These computational models will greatly assist in the development of generating novel and precise hypotheses regarding the coordination between secondary metabolism and development of glandular trichomes. These efforts are beginning to shed light into the poorly understood coordination of metabolism in specialized cell types.

Hobby: Outdoor enthusiast