The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

MCIBS - Molecular and Evolutionary Genetics Faculty

Faculty associated with the molecular and evolutionary genetics emphasis area of the MCIBS 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.

Etya Amsalem
Assistant Professor of Entomology

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.

Raquel Assis
Asst. Professor, Biology

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

Michael Axtell
Professor of Biology

Functional genomics of plant microRNAs and siRNAs.

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

Single cell / single molecule study of chromatin and gene regulation

Craig Cameron
Paul Berg Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

RNA virus genome development.

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

Forest molecular genetics

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

Translational control of gene expression.

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 in maize.

Diana Cox-Foster
Professor of Entomology

Insect biochemistry and physiology; evolutionary development; molecular biology; host/pathogen interactions.

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

Poulation genetics, phylogenetics, human evolutionary genomics, and bioinformatics

Robert Eckhardt
Professor of Developmental Genetics and Evolutionary Morphology

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

J. Gregory Ferry
Stanley Person Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Director, Center for Microbial Structural Biology

Enzymology and molecular genetics of anaerobic microbes from the Archaea domain.

Majid Foolad
Professor of Plant Genetics, Department of Plant Science

Genetics of and breeding for stress tolerance and nutritional quality in crop plants.

David Geiser
Professor of Plant Pathology
Director, Fusarium Research Center

Molecular evolutionary genetics of pathogenic and toxigenic fungi.

Pamela Giblin
Professor of Immunology

The role of receptor tyrosine kinases in development and disease.

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

Christina M Grozinger
Distinguished 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.

Wendy Hanna-Rose
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Developmental genetics of organogenesis and morphogenesis in C. elegans.

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

Functional genomics of non-coding DNA; regulation of mammalian hemoglobin genes.

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

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.

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

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: microbial pathogenomics, including host response to infection molecular epidemiology, including the study of population genetics of microbes A related research component seeks to translate the results of our laboratory-based investigations into improved diagnostic tests and methods for microbial identification, as well as to investigate opportunities for developing new generations of antimicrobial vaccines and therapeutics.

Kenneth Keiler
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Protein quality control and new antibiotics

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.

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

Biogenesis and function of cilia in mammalian embryonic development.

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

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

Genetic analysis of inhibitory synapses in the mammalian brain.

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.

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

Signal transduction in prokaryotes; functional domains of Rhizobium dct genes.

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

Molecular genetics of xenobiotic metabolism.

Richard Ordway
Professor of Molecular Neuroscience and Genetics

Cellular mechanisms of synaptic transmission in Drosophila.

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 receptor-mediated carcinogenesis.

George Perry
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Biology

Human and non-human primate evolutionary ecology and genomics.

Jeffrey Peters
Distinguished Professor of Molecular Toxicology & Carcinogenesis

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

B. Franklin Pugh
Willaman Professor in Molecular Biology

Biochemistry and genomics of eukaryotic transcription regulation.

Joseph Reese
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Molecular and genetic analysis of UV resistance pathways in eukaryotes.

Joan Richtsmeier
Professsor of Anthropology

Analysis of craniofacial phenotypes.

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.

Stephen Schaeffer
Professor of Biology

Population Genetics and Genomics of Chromosomal Rearrangements in Drosophila

Stephen Schaeffer
Professor of Biology

Molecular population genetics and genomics.

Anthony Schmitt
Associate Professor of Molecular Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Assembly and budding of paramyxovirus particles.

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.

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

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

Role of the cortical actin cytoskeleton in cell polarity and morphogenesis.

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

Complex genetics of drug addiction.

George Vogler
Director, Center for Developmental and Health Genetics
Professor of Biobehavioral Health

Quantitative genetics of complex traits.

Yanming Wang
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Epigenetic histone modifications in cell differentiation and cancer.

Na Xiong
Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Molecular mechanisms underlying development of tissue specific gamma/delta T cells.