September 2019


November 2015

Version 2

David Bryant Lowry

IMG_2843I am an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant Biology. I conducted my postdoctoral research in Thomas Juenger’s lab in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. I received my PhD in 2010 from Duke University’s program in Genetics and Genomics under the mentorship of John Willis. My science career began when I was a student in the Genetics and Plant Biology Program at UC Berkeley. I grew up in Sonoma County, CA. I currently live in East Lansing, MI with my  wife, Sheril Kirshenbaum, and two sons. See my CV for more details.



Ali Soltani – Postdoc


I am conducting research on common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) to understand tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. I am fascinated by amount of diversity that exists in common bean germplasm. My vision is to utilize this diversity as a tool to better understand tolerance mechanisms and translate those findings for crop improvement. At Michigan State University, I am focused on heat stress tolerance. Prior to MSU, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher (2014-2017) in the Dry Bean Genetics and Breeding Program at North Dakota State University.

I enjoy fishing, biking, occasional bird-watching and reading historic/human evolutionary books.


Acer VanWallendael – Postdoc

AcerMy research is on the genetic basis of rust tolerance in the biofuel grass Panicum virgatum (switchgrass). In addition, I am interested in the effects of polyploidy on phenotypic traits involved in local adaptation in tetraploid and octoploid populations of switchgrass. My previous work focused on an invasive polyploid Reynoutria japonica (Japanese knotweed), and in the future I hope to continue using interesting plant species to study how organisms adapt to their environment. I enjoy canoeing, skiing, cooking, reading science fiction (although there isn’t enough biology-based sci fi), and teaching people about evolution.

Katherine Toll – Postdoc


I am interested in the evolutionary ecology of Mimulus. Some of the projects I work on include: the role of hybridization and inbreeding depression in habitat partitioning, the role of abiotic filtering in habitat specialization within the Mimulus guttatus complex, and the genetic basis of interspecific divergence in tolerance to abiotic stressors. 




Ian Willick – Postdoc

photo for websiteMy research focuses on mechanisms underpinning the physiological, biochemical and molecular responses of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) to low temperatures and desiccation. In addition, I am interested in the identification and characterization of novel ice and anti-ice nucleation promoting substances that enhance plant cold hardiness. Previously at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada), I studied the tissue-specific mechanism of freezing resistance in cold-acclimated winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and rye (Secale cereale L.) crowns. Please see my website for more information on my published work. When not in the lab, I enjoy reading, gardening and watching hockey. 


Kyle Christie – Postdoc

Kyle_photo.jpgI am broadly interested in questions and phenomena lying at the intersection of evolution and ecology, including the evolution of reproductive isolation, the effects of heterospecific reproductive interactions, and local adaptation.  For my Ph.D. work I explored patterns and mechanisms of reproductive isolation in California Jewelflowers (Streptanthus), a diverse and fascinating group of plants common on serpentine substrates in California.  I am currently studying evolutionary responses to climate change and patterns of local adaptation in Plantago patagonica, using a combination of resurrection and reciprocal garden approaches.  I am co-advised by Dr. Liza Holeski at Northern Arizona University.  Outside of academia, I am interested in canyons, mountains, bikes, woodworking, chess, and chickens.

Nate Emery – Postdoc

Nate_Profile.jpgI am a plant ecophysiologist interested in how plants move water and the eco/evo consequences of variation in plant water movement. Another passion of mine is pedagogy and professional development of scientific teaching practices. I currently conduct research in both disciplines and I’m excited to be working in the Lowry lab as part of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. I’ll be investigating variation in switchgrass water movement, photosynthesis, and stomata. I received my PhD from UC Santa Barbara in 2016 working on foliar uptake of coastal fog and the implications for wildfire risk in California. In my spare time I enjoy ultimate frisbee, soccer, wood-working and hiking.

Jason Olsen – Graduate Student


My interests lie in the integration of evolution and genetics. My primary interest is local adaptation in plants and the underlying genetic mechanisms. I have particular interest in the Growth-Defense trade-off hypothesis, that plants cannot be both high growing and well defended under all circumstances. My previous work has been with Bochera stricta (Drummond’s rockcress) a North American mustard weed and exploring constraints to range expansion and growth-defense trade-offs. In the Lowry Lab, I am working with Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkeyflower) and exploring genetic differences in locally adapted populations which have different allocations to growth and defense. Outside of work, I am an avid reader and evangelize for my favorite author, Brandon Sanderson. Other interests include games, computers and my wonderful kitty.

Technician Team

Lisa Vormwald

Darlene Brennan

Connor Lamb

Mauricio Swartzendruber

Garrett Mulanix


Undergraduate Students

Natalie Phillips

Sydney Burtovoy

Lab Alumni

Former Postdocs

Billie Gould – Scientist at Myriad Women’s Health

Yani Chen – Iowa State University

Murilo Peixoto

Former Graduate Students

Fateme Shaki – University of Tehran

Caitlyn Byron – Michigan State University

Damian Popovic – Capitol Reef National Park

Former Technicians

Danny Jackson – PhD Student at Arizona State University

Amy Wrobleski – PhD Student at Pennsylvania State University

Katelynn Walter – Scientist at Aardevo

Marisa Iceberg – Marisa Iceberg Photography LLC

Former Undergraduate Researchers

Dash Devanshi – MSU Undergraduate

Katy Ferro – MSU Undergraduate

Darlene BrennanMSU Undergraduate

Erin GumpperMSU Undergraduate

Maria DeNunzio – MSU Undergraduate

John Wrath – Summer Genomics@MSU REU

Jim Cramton – Summer Genomics@MSU REU

Karen Chanchavac – Summer Genomics@MSU REU

Josh McCauleySummer Kellogg Biological Station REU


Outstanding Undergraduates Mentored Prior to MSU

Ashley Asmus   Postdoc at University of Minnesota and coordinating scientist for NutNet

Jacob Heiling   PhD Student   North Carolina State University

Por Tangwancharoen  PhD Student   Scripps Institution of Oceanography