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Plant Biology Alumnae


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Plant Biology graduate students have gone on to exciting careers in academia, industry and other professional areas. Listed below are our graduates from the last few years and their current positions, as known.

Pubudu Handakumbura, September 2014
Advisor: Sam Hazen
Dissertation: Understanding the transcriptional regulation of secondary cell wall biosynthesis in the model grass Brachypodium distachyon
Education: BS in Plant Biotechnology, 2007, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Position: Postdoctoral fellow, Bartlett Lab, UMass Amherst

Shu Zon Wu, PhD, September 2014
Advisor: Magdalena Bezanilla
Dissertation: Functional Analysis of Moss Class VII Myosin and its role in Plant Cell Division
Education: BS in Botany, 2003, National Taiwan University
Position: Postdoctoral fellow, Bezanilla Lab, UMass Amherst

Dennis DePaolo, MS, September 2014
Advisor: Sam Hazen
Thesis: Sequence analysis of maize yellow stripe3 candidate genes
Education: BS in Biology, 2009, SUNY Cortland
Position: Senior Cultivation Associate at Maine Organic Therapy

Graham Burkart, PhD, May 2014
Advisor: Magdalena Bezanilla
Dissertation: The role of myosin XI and ROP in moss tip growth
Education: BS in Botany, 2006, University of Vermont
Position: Postdoctoral researcher, Dixit Lab, Washington University at St. Louis

Nicole Soper Gorden, PhD, May 2013
Advisor: Lynn Adler
Dissertation: Interactions between floral mutualists and antagonists, and consequences for plant reproduction
Education: BA in Biology and English, 2007, Gustavus Adolphus College
Position: Postdoctoral Associate, Etterson Lab/Project Baseline, University of Minnesota, Duluth

Stephanie Craig, MS, May 2013
Advisor: Ana Caicedo
Thesis: The evolution of three hybrid sterility loci in US weedy red rice
Education: BS in Biology, 2011, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position: Lab Technician, Vierling Lab, UMass Amherst

Carrie Thurber, PhD, Sept 2012
Advisor: Ana Caicedo
Dissertation: The Evolutionary Genetics of Seed Shattering and Flowering Time, Two Weed Adaptive Traits in US Weedy Rice
Education: MS in Biology, 2007, SUNY Buffalo
Position: Assistant Professor, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Michael Urbanowski, MS, Sept 2012
Advisor: Tobias Baskin
Thesis: Development of a Cytosolic pH Reporter for Tobacco BY2 Cells
Education: BS in Microbiology/Public Health, 2010, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position: PhD Program in Pathobiology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute

Kenny Vasques, MS, May 2012
Advisor: Dr. Elsbeth Walker
Thesis: Investigation of YS1 and Iron Signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana
Education: BS in Biology, 2010, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position: Clinical Trial Coordinator Trainer, inVentiv Health Clinical

Burcu Kokturk Yordem, PhD, May 2012
Advisor: Dr. Elsbeth Walker
Dissertation: Establishing Brachypodium distachyon as a New Model System for Understanding Iron Homeostatis in Grasses
Education:MS in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering, 2006, Sabanci University, Turkey
Position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, USDA-ARS, Cereal Disease Laboratory, University of Minnesota, Kistler Lab

Robert Augustine, PhD, Sept. 2011
Advisor: Dr. Magdalena Bezanilla
Dissertation: The Role of Actin Depolymerizing Factor and its Regulatory Mechanisms in Moss Tip Growth
Education: BS in Biochemistry, 2005, SUNY at Binghamton
Position: Research Associate, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vierstra Lab

Anirudha Dixit, PhD, Sept. 2011
Dissertation: Functional Characterization of Stress Associated Proteins (SAPs) from Arabidopsis"
Research advisor: Dr. Om Parkash
Education: MS in Biotechnology, 2002, SRTM University
Position: NASA Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Kham Vongpaseuth, PhD, May 2011
Dissertation: "Novel Systems for the Functional Characterization of Genes Related to Paclitaxel Metabolism in Taxus Cell Cultures"
Research advisor: Dr. Susan Roberts
Education: MS in Botany, 2003, University College Dublin, Ireland
Position: Science Fellow, USDA APHIS BRS, Rockville, MD

Sydne Record, PhD, Sept 2010
Dissertation: "Impacts of invasive species on the demography and persistence of a rare, hemiparasitic plant, Swamp Lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata)"
Research advisor: Dr. Aaron Ellison (Harvard Forest)
Education: BS in Biology, 2003, University of Puget Sound
Position: Assistant Professor, Bryn Mawr College

Shuang Wu, PhD, Feb 2010
Dissertation: "Separase: linking cell division and root morphology in Arabidopsis"
Advisor: Dr. Tobias Baskin
Education: MS in Biology, 2003, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)
Position: Professor, Horticultural Plant Biology and Metabolomics Center, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China

Heng-Hsuan Chu, PhD, Feb 2010
Dissertation: "Analyses of Arabidopsis Yellow Stripe-Like (YSL) Family of Metal Transporters"
Advisor: Dr. Elsbeth Walker
Education: BS in Botany, 2001, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan
Position: Postdoctoral fellow, Guerinot Lab, Dartmouth

Jeff Chiecko, MS, Sept 2009
Thesis: "Investigating the role of YSLs in Oryza sativa and Arabidopsis thaliana through RT-PCR and Yeast Functional Complementation"
Advisor: Dr. Elsbeth Walker
Education: BS in Electrical Engineering, 1999, UMass Amherst
Position: Research scientist II at Bristol-Myers Squibb

Jeonghwa Lee, PhD, Sept 2009
Dissertation: "The role of TOC receptor interactions in controlling protein import into chloroplasts"
Advisor: Dr. Danny Schnell
Education: MS in Biological science, 2002, Seoul National University
Position: Senor Researcher at Macrogen, Inc

Mini Aggarwal Singla, MS, Sept 2009
Thesis: "Functional Analysis of Receptor-Like Kinases in Pollen-Pistil Interactions in Arabidopsis thaliana"
Research advisor: Dr. Alice Cheung
Education:MS in Botany, Panjab University-Chandigarh, India

Julie Anna Ritchie, MS, Feb. 2009
Advisor: Dr. Magdalena Bezanilla
Thesis: "Analysis of Myosin VIII Function in the Moss Physcomitrella patens"
Education: BS in Biology, 2005, SUNY Plattsburgh
Position: Scientist III Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals

Erin Mostoller, MS, September 2008
Advisor: Dr. Robin Harrington
Thesis: "Site Characteristics and Plant Invasion: Light Limitation of Invasive Establishment and Impacts of Elaeagnus umbellata on soil nitrogen availability and co-occuring species"
Education: BS in Environmental and Natural Resources, 2004, Clemson University
Position: Lab Manager and Chemical Hygiene Officer, Trinity College

N. Ezekiel (Zeke) Nims, PhD, May 2008
Advisor: Dr. Elsbeth Walker
Dissertation: "Transcriptional analysis and metabolic profiling of Taxol-producing Taxus cell cultures."
Education: BA in Biology, 2000, Ithaca College
Position: Scientist III at RA Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Natalie Feliciano, MS, May 2008
Advisor: Dr. Jill Miller, Amherst College
Thesis: "Self-incompatibility and patterns of S-RNase evolution in African Lycium"
Education: BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2002, University of Rochester
Position: Laboratory Safety Officer, Greenfield Community College

Caleb Rounds, PhD, Sept 2007
Advisor: Dr. Danny Schnell
Dissertation: "Assembly of structurally and functionally distinct protein import translocons in chloroplasts"
Education: MA in English, 1995, Brown University
Position: Lecturer, Biology Department, UMass Amherst

Kristen Hladun, MS, Feb 2007
Advisor: Dr. Lynn Adler
Thesis: "Effects of perimeter trap crop pollen, herbivory and pollination on reproduction and plant performance in Cucurbita moschata"
Education: BA in Biology, 1999, Boston University
Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Entomology, UC Riverside

Alenka Lovy Wheeler, PhD, May 2006
Advisor: Dr. Peter Hepler
Dissertation: "Actin organization and activity in lily pollen tube growth: a role for pH".
Education: Education: MS in Plant Physiology, 1999, University of Washington, Pullman.
Position: Research Assistant Professor & Manager, Tufts/NEMC Imaging Facility

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