The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Molecular Cellular and Integrative Biosciences

Faculty associated with the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences Graduate Degree Program at Penn State, and a summary of their research interests

Faculty are listed in alphabetical order by last name. To see more information about a faculty member, click on his/her name.

Sarah Ades
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Signal transduction and antibiotic-induced stress responses in bacteria.

Benjamin Allen
Research Assoc. Biochemistry

Computational approaches to protein engineering; Using protein structure to guide bioinformatics for projects including identification of malaria vaccine targets

Etya Amsalem
Assistant Professor of Entomology

Charles Anderson
Assistant Professor of Biology

Raquel Assis
Asst. Professor, Biology

Evolutionary genomics, molecular evolution, and bioinformatics. Particularly interested in how new functions evolve after gene duplication.

Sarah Assmann
Waller Professor of Biology

Molecular biology of plant G-proteins and kinases. Phytohormone regulation of signal transduction and RNA processing. Second messenger regulation of ion channels in plant cells.

Michael Axtell
Professor of Biology

Discovery and characterization of plant microRNAs and siRNAs. Functions of microRNAs and siRNAs in the evolution of plant development. Genomics and bioinformatics of microRNAs, siRNAs, and their targets.

Lu Bai
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Assistant Professor of Physics

Single cell / single molecule study of chromatin and gene regulation

Val Beasley
Professor and Head, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Veterinary, Wildlife, and Ecological Toxicology One Health Declining Amphibians Mycotoxins Cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) toxins

Philip Bevilacqua
Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Co-Director, Center for RNA Molecular Biology

Ottar Bjørnstad
Distinguished Professor of Entomology and Biology
Adjunct Professor in Statistics

Population ecology and population dynamics with particular emphasis on mathematical and computational aspects

J. Martin Bollinger
Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Mechanisms of metalloenzymes and metallofactor assembly

Justin Brown
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering

Our lab seeks to understand the fundamental mechanisms by which biomaterial interfaces alter the proliferation, migration and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, and to apply these principles in the intelligent design of biomaterial scaffolds that facilitate generation or regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues; application of systems biology to identify changes in the interactome of osteoprogenitor cells on nanofiber substrates

Craig Cameron
Paul Berg Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Defining the molecular details of genome replication in positive-strand RNA viruses and identifying components of this process suitable for antiviral drug development.

Margherita Cantorna
Distinguished Professor in Molecular Immunology
Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Vitamin A and vitamin D regulation of the microbiota and host immunity. Utilizing animal models of multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal infection.

John Carlson
Professor of Molecular Genetics, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
Director, Schatz Center for Tree Molecular Genetics

Molecular genetics, genomics and biotechnology of woody plants related to development, environmental stress, carbon sequestration and genome organization.

Isabella Cattadori
Associate Professor of Biology

My lab is interested in the immuno-epidemiology of co-infection, how host immunity modulates parasite interactions and transmission and how host molecular processes explain the dynamics of infection at the population level. A combination of laboratory experiments, long-term field monitoring and a number of different infectious agents (helminths, bacteria and viruses) are used in these studies.

Douglas Cavener
Dean of Penn State's Eberly College of Science

Regulation of gene expression underlying neonatal development & organ system physiology; mouse models of human congenital diseases including juvenile diabetes, metabolic disorders, skeletal dysplasias, and central nervous system dysfunctions.

Gong Chen
Professor of Biology
Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences

Molecular mechanism of synaptogenesis and plasticity.

Surinder Chopra
Professor of Maize Genetics, Department of Plant Science

Regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis during plant development and plant-pathogen interaction. Epigenetic regulation and allele specific patterns.

Barbara Christ
Professor of Plant Pathology

Breeding for disease resistance and fungal pathogen-host genetic interactions.

Daniel Cosgrove
Eberly Chair and Professor of Biology

Mechanism of plant growth. Function and evolution of expansins. Biochemistry and rheology of plant cell walls. Growth responses to light, hormones, and water stress and other stimuli.

Diana Cox-Foster
Professor of Entomology

Insect biochemistry and physiology; host/pathogen interactions; coevolution of insects with their pathogens and parasites and the role the insect immune system in this interaction

Liwang Cui
Professor of Entomology

Molecular parasitology; host-parasite interactions; malaria parasite development and epigenetics; malaria epidemiology and population biology

Michael DeGiorgio
Assistant Professor of Biology

Population genetics, phylogenetics, human evolutionary genomics, and bioinformatics

Claude dePamphilis
Professor of Biology

Genomics, bioinformatics, and molecular evolution. Origin and diversification of flowers and developmental pathways. Comparative genomics of plants, organelles, and plant gene families. Genomics and evolution of parasitic plants.

Francisco Diaz
Associate Professor of Reproductive Biology

Ovarian physiology. Role of SMAD-mediated signaling in follicular and female germ cell (oocyte) development.

Patrick James Drew
Assistant Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Control and development of the cerebral blood flow, neurovascular coupling.

Edward Dudley
Associate Professor of Food Science

Mechanisms of environmental survival and virulence of pathogens associated with foodborne disease.

Robert Eckhardt
Professor of Developmental Genetics and Evolutionary Morphology

Genetic and environmental influences on growth and development in human populations.

Majid Foolad
Professor of Plant Genetics, Department of Plant Science

Genetic characterization of resistance/tolerance to biotic/abiotic stresses, and genes/QTLs contributing to tomato fruit quality. Investigation of genes/QTLs for directed crop improvement and germplasm enhancement. Tomato cultivar development & release.

David Geiser
Professor of Plant Pathology
Director, Fusarium Research Center

Molecular evolutionary genetics of pathogenic and toxigenic fungi.

David Gilmour
Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology

Transcriptional regulation of the hsp70 heat shock gene in Drosophila

Santhosh Girirajan
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

To understand the genetic basis of neurodevelopmental disorders

Adam Glick
Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Chair, Molecular Medicine Program
Associate Chair, Molecular Cellular and Integrative Biosciences

Research in my lab focuses on the role of Transforming Growth Factor-beta in cutaneous inflammation and cancer development, and how the immune system responds to epithelial cells with activated oncogenes such as Ras. We are also interested in signaling pathways that regulate senescence of premalignant epithelial cells and how cells escape from oncogene-induced senescence.

John Golbeck
Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Professor of Chemistry

Light reactions in photosynthesis. Structure and function of photosystem I and the heliobacterial reaction center. Regulation and bioassembly of iron-sulfur clusters in cyanobacteria and plants. Plant and bacterial metalloproteins. Generation using Photosystem I, hydrogenase, and molecular wire technology.

Christina M Grozinger
Professor of Entomology

Genomics of social behavior and health in bees

Ying Gu
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Mark Guiltinan
Professor of Plant Molecular Biology, Department of Plant Science
Director, Endowed Program in the Molecular Biology of Cocoa

Plant molecular and developmental biology. Starch biosynthesis. Tropical plant biotechnology. Plant-pathogen interactions. Biofuel feedstock production.

William Hancock
Professor of Bioengineering

The detailed workings of motor proteins and their role in intracellular transport and cell motility.

Pamela Hankey
Professor of Immunology

Regulation of cell-mediated immunity, hematopoiesis, receptor tyrosine kinases, cellular transformation.

Wendy Hanna-Rose
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Cell biology of development, using C. elegans as a model

Ross Hardison
T. Ming Chu Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Mechanism and evolution of gene regulation during mammalian hematopoiesis informed by genomic, epigenomic, and bioinformatic approaches.

Heather Hines
Assistant Professor, Biology

* Genetics of adaptive mimetic color pattern variation in butterflies and bumble bees

Kelli Hoover
Professor of Entomology

Invasive species of forest insects; plant-insect-entomopathogen interactions; impacts of plants on pathogenesis; biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid

Jun Huang
Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics

Explores nanoscience and nanotechnology at the interface of physics, materials, engineering and biology.

Peter Hudson
Director, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
Willaman Professor of Biology

Population dynamics of infectious diseases in wildlife and the dynamics of parasite community structure.

David R. Huff
Professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics, Department of Plant Science

Population genetics. Plant evolution and ecology. Crop improvement. Physiological tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress.

Timothy Jegla
Associate Professor of Biology

We are interested in understanding how ion channels control signaling in the nervous system. We focus on potassium channel-mediated control of firing threshold and ionic mechanisms involved in the generation and processing of sensory potentials. Our research relies on a combination of mouse genetics, electrophysiology, cell biology and compound screening approaches.

Alan Leslie Johnson
Walther H. Ott Professor in Avian Biology

Ovarian dynamics and follicle differentiation; granulosa cell tumors.

Joyce Jose
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Helen Marie Kamens
Assistant Professor, Biobehavioral Health

Identification of genetic mechanisms that contribute to complex behaviors with a special emphasis on alcohol and tobacco use.

Seogchan Kang
Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Sagarika Kanjilal
Associate Professor of Veterinary Science

Molecular, genomic, and proteomic investigation of cancer pathways, biomarkers, and targeted therapeutics.

Vivek Kapur
Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
Professor of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Research in my Laboratory seeks to define the basic mechanisms by which pathogenic microbes successfully infect, colonize, and cause disease in their hosts. The research effort is organized along two thematic lines:

Fumiko Kawasaki
Assistant Professor of Biology

Genetic and Molecular Studies of Neural Function and Degeneration

Kenneth Keiler
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Protein quality control and new antibiotics

Mary Kennett
Professor, Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences
Director, Animal Resource Program

The pathogenesis of infectious disease: examining bacterial virulence and associated pathology in relation to host immune responses.

Girish Kirimanjeswara
Assistant Professor of Veterinary and Biomedical Science

Establishing the Virulence Factors

Suresh Kuchipudi
Clinical Associate Professor
Section Head Mammalian Virology & Immunology

-Diagnostic Virology & Serology -Zoonotic and Emerging Viruses -Negative strand RNA viruses -Avian and Mammalian influenza -Immune responses to viruses -Viral pathogenesis Quantitative-omics approach to virus-host interactions

Matam Vijay Kumar
Assistant Professor, Nutritional Science

Innate Immunity-Gut Microbiotal Interactions in Metabolic Diseases such as diabetes and obesity; Host Metabolic Adaptations to Inflammation; Lipocalin 2 - mediated Iron Homeostasis in Inflammation.

Zhi-Chun Lai
Professor of Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Cell and Developmental Biology

Signal Transduction, Growth Control, and Cancer Genetics

Todd LaJeunesse
Associate Professor of Biology

Microbial Ecology and Evolution

Joshua Lambert
Assistant Professor, Food Science

Dietary polyphenols in prevention of obesity and fatty liver disease; efficacy and mechanisms of action of food-derived phytochemicals in prevention of lung cancer; biotransformation, bioavailability and potential hepatotoxicity of dietary phytochemicals

Tae-hee Lee
Associate Professor of Chemistry

Single molecule investigations of the dynamics of translation and tRNA recognition

Xiaojun (Lance) Lian
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Cell and Developmental Biology Molecular Medicine Molecular and Evolutionary Genetics

Scott Lindner
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Our laboratory couples molecular parasitology and structural biology to study the malaria parasite (Plasmodium spp.).

Aimin Liu
Associate Professor of Biology

The regulation of cell fate and polarity in mammalian central nervous system and sensory organs.

Wansheng Liu
Associate Professor of Genomics

Structural, functional and comparative genomics of the mammalian Y‐chromosome; characterization of Y-chromosome variations and their application in male health, fertility, and reproduction in cattle and other livestock species; function of the PRAME/PRAMEY gene family during spermatogenesis in cattle and mice

Manuel Llinas
Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Understanding the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation and metabolism in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum using functional genomics and metabolomics.

Bernhard Luscher
Professor of Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Psychiatry
Director, Center for Molecular Investigation of Neurological Disorders (CMIND)

Structure, function and regulation of GABA-A receptors and their role in anxiety disorders.

Dawn Luthe
Professor of Plant Stress Biology, Department of Plant Science

Insect defense responses in maize. Functional genomics/proteomic approaches for studying Aspergillus flavus resistance in maize. Abiotic stress resistance.

Shaun Mahony
Assistant Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Computational biology and regulatory genomics

Kateryna Makova
Professor of Biology
Director, Center for Medical Genomics

Molecular evolution, population genetics, evolutionary genomics, bioinformatics, and human genetics

Yingwei Mao
Assistant Professor of Biology

My lab studies the mechanisms that regulate neurogenesis using cellular and mouse models. In the short term, I would like to focus my research program in determining how abnormal neural progenitor cell (NPC) proliferation and differentiation may lead to mental illnesses. My long-term plan is to use the reagents, experimental systems, mouse models that I develop to further screen novel drugs that can reverse the behavior phenotype in our mouse model and eventually benefit patients with psychiatric disorders.

Costas Maranas
Donald B. Broughton Professor of Chemical Engineering

Reconstruction, analysis and redesign of metabolism, computational protein design, systems biology and microbial strain design

Andrea Mastro
Professor of Microbiology and Cell Biology

Breast cancer and the immune system; how metastatic, osteolytic breast cancer cells affect osteoblasts.

Timothy Miyashiro
Asst. Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Impact of host development on microbial symbioses

Chris Mullin
Professor of Entomology

Toxicology of insect-plant interactions. Honey bee ecotoxicology. Mechanisms of insect taste chemoreception. Biopesticide action and resistance. Phytochemical ecology.

Gustavo Nader
Assoc. Professor, Kinesiology

Skeletal muscle growth control and adaptations to exercise. Ribosome biogenesis, transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of RNA Polymerase I.

Anton Nekrutenko
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Evolution of overlapping reading frames in eukaryotic genomes.

B. Tracy Nixon
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Structural and functional basis of two component signal transduction. Structural basis for how AAA+ ATPases perform mechanical work to activate transcription by remodeling the sigma54-form of bacterial RNA polymerase.

Curtis Omiecinski
Professor of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences
H. Thomas and Dorothy Willits Hallowell Chair
Co-chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Molecular Toxicology

Regulatory mechanisms responsible for controlling the expression of biotransformation enzymes.

Richard Ordway
Professor of Molecular Neuroscience and Genetics

Molecular analysis of synaptic mechanisms in Drosophila.

Troy Ott
Professor of Reproductive Physiology
Associate Director for Graduate Education

Fertility and reproductive immunology in domestic farm animals.

Joy Pate
Professor of Reproductive Physiology
C. Lee Rumberger and Family Chair in Agricultural Sciences
Director, Center for Reproductive Biology and Health

Specializing in the area of corpus luteum function. Primary research interests focus on the regulation of luteolysis, prostaglandin production by the corpus luteum, and the interactions between the immune system & the reproductive system.

Andrew Patterson
Director/Faculty Oversight, Metabolomics Core Facility (University Park)
Associate Professor of Molecular Toxicology

The Patterson lab is focused on understanding the host-metabolite-microbiome axis

Robert Paulson
Professor of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

The Paulson lab studies the mechanisms that regulate tissue regeneration with a focus on understanding the response to anemic and hypoxic stress.

Gary Perdew
John T. and Paige S. Smith Professor in Agricultural Sciences

Mechanisms of dioxin toxicity mediated through the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). Role of the AHR in the control of inflammation and lipid synthesis; potential use of the AHR as a therapeutic target.

Jeffrey Peters
Distinguished Professor of Molecular Toxicology & Carcinogenesis

Roles of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) in the regulation of homeostasis, toxicology, and carcinogenesis.

Mary Poss
Professor in Biology and in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Molecular mechanisms of virus and host adaptation at scales that span protein and structure to population dynamics.

Sandeep Prabhu
Professor of Immunology and Molecular Toxicology

Molecular mechanisms by which bioactives such as selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and other products of natural origin alter the host response and immune function in inflammation and cancer

B. Franklin Pugh
Willaman Professor in Molecular Biology

Biochemical and genomic mechanisms of eukaryotic gene regulation

Jason Rasgon
Associate Professor of Entomology

Integrating population biology, ecology, molecular tools and theory to address fundamental and applied questions related to vector arthropods and the pathogens they transmit.

Andrew Read
Director, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics
Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology
Eberly Professor of Biotechnology

The ecology and evolutionary genetics of infectious disease

Joseph Reese
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

UV resistance pathways in eukaryotes. Regulation of DNA damage inducible genes by chromatin. Role of a highly conserved RNA helicase in DNA damage resistance and viral pathogenesis.

Philip Reno
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

My lab studies comparative primate and vertebrate evolution, with the main goal to discover the genetic and developmental mechanisms that make us human.

Joan Richtsmeier
Professsor of Anthropology

Analysis of craniofacial phenotypes.

Marylyn Deriggi Ritchie
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Bioinformatics, Computational Genomics, Pharmacogenomics, Genetic Architecture of Complex Human Traits.

Connie Jo Rogers
Assistant Professor and Occupant of the Broadhurst Career Development Professorship for the Study of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Role of changes in energy balance and related nutritional factors on inflammation, immune regulation and cancer risk using both animal models and human subjects.

Melissa Rolls
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Director, Center for Cellular Dynamics
Chair, Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences program

The Rolls lab investigates the cellular basis of neuronal polarity and neuronal responses to injury including degeneration and regeneration.

A. Catharine Ross
Professor in Nutritional Science and Occupant of Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair

Vitamin A metabolism; hepatic retinoid function and gene expression; vitamin A in infection and immunity.

Lorraine Santy
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Epithelial cells form barriers that divide different compartments in the body. These cells are normally stationary but become migratory during processes such as the repair of tissue damage or the metastasis of epithelial tumors. The Santy lab is interested in understanding the signals and processes that initiate migration in epithelial cells.

Stephen Schaeffer
Professor of Biology

Population Genetics and Genomics of Chromosomal Rearrangements in Drosophila

Anthony Schmitt
Associate Professor of Molecular Immunology and Infectious Diseases

The process of paramyxovirus particle formation by budding: identifying and characterizing viral proteins used in budding, and learning how these manipulate host budding machinery to allow virus release.

Idan Shalev
Asst. Professor, Biobehavioral Health

Interdisciplinary approach to identify mechanisms underpinning the biological embedding of stress across the lifespan with a special focus on biological aging.

Cooduvalli Shashikant
Associate Professor of Molecular and Developmental Biology
Co-director, Bioinformatics and Genomics graduate program
Assistant Director for Graduate Training Initiatives

Developmental and evolutionary aspects of regulation of patterning genes.

Scott Showalter
Associate Professor of Chemistry

Biophysical Chemistry applied to solution NMR spectroscopy of partially disordered proteins. NMR studies of protein dynamics coupled with computational and theoretical studies of the coupling between nuclear spin relaxation and molecular motion.

Mark Shriver
Professor of Biological Anthropology

Human population genomics and complex disease mapping.

Moriah L Szpara
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Neurovirology, genomics of pathogen variation, neuron-virus relationships

Song Tan
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Structural biology of eukaryotic gene regulation.

Graham Thomas
Associate Professor of Biology and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Cortical spectrin cytoskeleton function

Jack Vanden Heuvel
Professor of Molecular Toxicology

Mechanisms of action of hypolipidemic drugs and peroxisome proliferators; steroid hormone receptor-mediated signal transduction; signal transduction by lipids and fatty acids; receptor-mediated carcinogenesis.

David Vandenbergh
Professor of Biobehavioral Health
Associate Director of the Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences

Genetics of addiction in human populations and its neurobiological basis in animal models.

Yanming Wang
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Epigenetic histone modifications in cell differentiation and cancer.

Yong Wang
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

The essential objective of our research is to apply nature and biology as design guidelines to the creation of biomimetic and bioinspired materials at both the nanoscale and macroscale level for drug delivery, clinical diagnosis, and regenerative medicine. We are particularly interested in using synthetic oligonucleotides and polymers to develop antibody-like nanomaterials, programmable protein delivery systems, and tissue-like nanostructured biomaterials.

Na Xiong
Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Molecular mechanisms underlying development of tissue specific gamma/delta T cells and their role in infection and inflammation.

Jian Yang
Professor of Bioengineering

Development of new biodegradable polymers for use in engineering elastic tissues such as blood vessel, tendon, ligament, and cardiac tissue, and in other applications such as biological labeling, bioimaging and drug delivery

Yinong Yang
Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Signal perception and transduction in rice-pathogen interactions; Molecular and genomic strategies for increasing disease resistance and drought tolerance in cereal crops.

Xin Zhang
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Paul Berg Early Career Professorship in the Eberly College of Science

The Zhang lab aims to 1) develop chemical tools to monitor cellular stresses that influence protein folding in real time; 2) decipher how the energy landscapes associated with proper protein folding and function are regulated by the cellular folding environment; and 3) examine how this regulation leads to significant biological consequences.

Siyang Zheng
Associate Professor of Bioengineering

My laboratory aims at developing and applying micro/nano technologies for biological and medical applications. On one hand, I am interested in studying miniaturized devices and systems that can be integrated with biological system in vitro and in vivo. On the other hand, I am eager to apply these technologies for fundamental biological research, clinic diagnosis and treatment. The research is highly multidisciplinary, interfacing at engineering, biological sciences, physical sciences, and medicine. Current focuses are on: