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David Bryant Lowry

IMG_2843I am an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Plant Biology. Previously, I was an Assistant Professor at California State University, Monterey Bay. From 2010-2013, I was a USDA postdoctoral fellow 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.

Billie Gould – Postdoctoral Research Associate

billie-gould-profileI study the ecological genetics and genomics of wild plants. Understanding how and why adaptive traits vary within species across the landscape is an integral part of the biology of these amazingly diverse organisms. Equally important, it allows us a deeper understanding of their capacity to adapt to rapid environmental changes, invade new areas, and be developed for use in agriculture. In the past I have worked on diverse plant taxa, examining the genetic basis of local adaptation at both local and regional scales. In the Lowry lab I am focusing on understanding the genetic basis of trait differences between switchgrass populations with an eye toward the development of better biofuels. For more information, please visit my website:

Ali Soltani- Postdoctoral Research Associate


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.

Caitlyn Byron – PhD Student

Caitlyn.jpgI am interested in studying variation between plant populations that differentiates the way they adapt to a changing environment, specifically in relation to anthropogenic climate change. My past experiences involved a broad range of ecologically-focused topics, but in the Lowry Lab I aim to use genetic and genomic tools and techniques to assist in answering ecological and evolutionary questions. I am currently designing studies to compare the adaptive potential of species restricted to subalpine and alpine habitats to the adaptive potential of widespread species, using Mimulus as a model system.

Damian Popovic – PhD Student

IMG_7975My studies focus on chipping away at age old questions of how & why biodiversity arises. I seek to further elucidate how widespread plant species adapt and evolve resiliency despite variable landscape-wide stressors. Specifically, I’m interested in addressing the evolution of trade-offs in divergent, locally adapted flora across prominent ecogeographic gradients. A Westerner at heart, my work is informed by an appreciation of the immense diversity inherent to the California Floristic Province and its deep relationship to the state’s rich, contrasting habitats. Prior to becoming a valued member of the Lowry Lab, I shared this profound appreciation with guests young and old as a Nature Interpreter at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens in Claremont, CA. It’s my desire to continue in this vein by further bridging the gap between scientists and the general public – to live and convey that science as an endeavor and the knowledge it disseminates belong to the collective.

Fateme Shaki – Visiting PhD Student

20170322_152951I am interested in understanding how plants maintain homeostasis in the face of environmental stress. In the past, I have worked on studying the effects of plant growth regulators on plants under salt stress, which is a very important abiotic stress that poses major challenges to global agriculture. In the Lowry lab, I am focusing on understanding the genetic mechanisms and physiological responses of yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) populations to salinity. This research will lead to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms by which natural plant populations tolerate environmental stress and should provide insights to improve salt tolerance in crops.

Danny Jackson – Technician

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I recently received my Bachelor’s degree from CU Boulder, and I am actively studying my career options. I assist the other researchers in their investigations, I work to make the lab run smoothly, and I am taking on additional outreach projects. I have previously assisted in an examination of red flower trait evolution in Solanaceae through phylogenetic analysis, performed health and wellness advocacy through Boulder County AIDS Project, and have written and published several poems and short stories. I am interested in work that bridges scientific inquiry with social change, that empowers individuals with increased access to resources, and that encourages artistic expression. I spend my free time reading queer magazines, learning to make visual art, and putting to use my hiking boots and my Spotify account.

Undergraduate Students

Darlene Brennan

Sara Simonte

Lab Alumni

Yani Chen – Postdoc

Marisa Van Damme – Technician

Erin GumpperMSU Undergraduate

Maria DeNunzio – MSU Undergraduate

Karen Chanchavac – Summer Genomics@MSU REU

Josh McCauleySummer Kellogg Biological Station REU

Undergraduate Students Mentored Prior to MSU

Ashley Asmus   PhD Student   University of Texas at Arlington

Jacob Heiling   PhD Student   North Carolina State University

Por Tangwancharoen  PhD Student   Scripps Institution of Oceanography