The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Plant Biology

Faculty associated with the Plant Biology Intercollege 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.

Jared Ali
Assistant Professor of Entomology

Behavior and chemical ecology of multi-trophic interactions, including plant responses to below-ground herbivory and nematode. Insect community ecology, chemical ecology, and coevolution. Trophic cascades, above- and below-ground interactions, chemotaxis of soil nematodes, and evolution of plant defense strategies.

Charles Anderson
Assistant Professor of Biology

In vivo imaging of plant cell wall dynamics. Molecular genetic analysis of genes involved in cell growth. Cell wall biosynthesis in dividing cells. Cell wall engineering for sustainable bioenergy production.

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.

Robert Berghage
Associate Professor, Department of Plant Science

Environmental plant physiology. Controlled and modified environments for plant growth. Eco-roofs, rooftop greening, and other uses of plants in distributed stormwater management systems.

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

Role of RNA structure in vivo and genomewide in plant stress response and other functions

Kathleen Brown
Professor of Plant Stress Biology, Department of Plant Science

Regulation of root development. Root responses to edaphic stress. Identification and genetic mapping of traits for adaptation to edaphic stress.

Nicole Brown
Associate Professor of Wood Chemistry, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Adhesives, wood composites, cellulosic materials, and bacterial cellulose. Polymer science. Chemistry of wood biopolymers, and other chemical treatments of wood.

Donald Bryant
Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Photosynthesis, structure-function relationships of proteins, gene regulation, and microbial physiology. Cyanobacteria and green sulfur bacteria. Genomics of photosynthetic bacteria.

Carolee Bull
Professor of Plant Pathology and Bacterial Systematics
Head, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Bacterial systematics, epidemiology, and population biology of bacterial plant pathogens and biological control agents to develop alternatives to synthetic chemicals for plant disease management

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.

Jeffrey Catchmark
Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Cellulose synthesis and organization, cellulosic composites and coatings, microbial cellulose production, and chemically powered microfluidic and biological devices and sensors.

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.

Erin Connolly
Professor and Head, Department of Plant Science

Molecular mechanisms of micronutrient transport. Iron uptake and compartmentalization. Metal ion homeostasis.

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.

Wayne Curtis
Professor of Chemical Engineering

Regulation and signal transduction in plant secondary metabolism. Phytoremediation of hydrocarbons. Commercial chemical production in plants and plant tissue culture.

Richard Cyr
Professor of Biology

Plant cell and developmental biology. Biochemical, genetic, molecular genetic and cell biology of the cytoskeleton. Mitosis, with emphasis on spindle assembly.

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.

David Eissenstat
Professor of Woody Plant Physiology, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology

Plant physiological ecology. Root biology and physiology. Plant carbon and nutrient economies.

Gary Felton
Professor and Head, Department of Entomology

Plant-herbivore interactions. Adaptive responses of herbivores to plant defenses. Herbivore cues recognized by plants with specific focus on biochemical and molecular analysis of salivary secretions.

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.

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.

Ying Gu
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Mechanism of cellulose biosynthesis in higher plants. Genetic modification of plant cell wall to scale-up biofuel production.

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.

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.

Seogchan Kang
Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Genetic and cellular mechanisms underpinning plant-fungal interactions with Arabidopsis thaliana and Fusarium oxysporum as a model system. Molecular genetics and comparative genomics of fungal plant pathogens. Bioinformatics.

Teh-hui Kao
Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Plant Biology

Molecular, biochemical, and structural bases of the S-RNase-based self-incompatibility system in flowering plants. F-box protein-mediated ubiquitination and degradation of proteins.

Jesse Lasky
Assistant Professor of Biology

Ecological & evolutionary genomics, genetic and ecophysiological basis of adaptation to environmental stress, evolutionary ecology of biological complexity.

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.

Jonathan Lynch
Distinguished Professor of Plant Nutrition, Department of Plant Science

Plant adaptation to nutrient and water stress. Global change. World hunger. Root biology.

Hong Ma
Professor of Biology
Huck Distinguished Research Professor of Plant Molecular Biology

Plant reproductive development and cell biology. Plant molecular evolution and angiosperm phylogenomics. Plant functional genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics.

Siela Maximova
Senior Scientist and Professor, Department of Plant Science

Molecular basis of plant-pathogen and plant-endophyte interactions. Biotechnology of tree crops. Development of sustainable energy crops.

Timothy McNellis
Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Genetics, molecular biology and physiology of plant interactions with phytopathogenic bacteria. Signal transduction events involved in plant disease resistance. Genetic control of plant hypersensitive cell death.

Gabriele Monshausen
Associate Professor of Biology

Plant cell signaling. Hormonal and mechanical signal transduction in plant growth regulation. Live cell imaging of subcellular microdomains of ionic signaling.

Chris Mullin
Professor of Entomology

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

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.

Cristina Rosa
Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Plant Virology, interaction of plant viruses with their insects as vectors and with their plant hosts. Virus evolution, exploration of plant viromes, viral co-infections, effect of climate change on viral resistant breaking strains. Use of nanotechnologies for virus detection and virus disease management.

Andrew Stephenson
Distinguished Professor of Biology

The impact of inbreeding by plants on organic volatile production, herbivory and the establishment and spread of diseases. The effects of effects of disease on the foraging behavior of vectors and their natural enemies.

Ming Tien
Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Characterization and biochemical analysis of cellulose synthesis in a variety of organisms. Mechanism and regulation of fungal degradation of lignin. Dissimilatory Iron reduction.

James Tumlinson
Ralph O. Mumma Professor of Entomology
Director, Center for Chemical Ecology

Insect chemical ecology. Plant-insect interactions. Insect attractants.

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.