David Bryant Lowry
I 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
My 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
My 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
I 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
I 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.
Billie Gould – Scientist at Myriad Women’s Health
Yani Chen – Iowa State University
Former Graduate Students
Fateme Shaki – University of Tehran
Caitlyn Byron – Michigan State University
Damian Popovic – Capitol Reef National Park
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 Brennan – MSU Undergraduate
Erin Gumpper – MSU Undergraduate
Maria DeNunzio – MSU Undergraduate
John Wrath – Summer Genomics@MSU REU
Jim Cramton – Summer Genomics@MSU REU
Karen Chanchavac – Summer Genomics@MSU REU
Josh McCauley – Summer 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