Kathleen (Katie) Greenham, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Plant & Microbial Biology University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego B.Sc., Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada greenham[at]umn.edu
I’ve always loved science and problem solving. In college, while being drawn to literature, I found my passion working in a research laboratory. In graduate school my research focused on deciphering the signaling pathways of the phytohormone auxin during seedling development in Arabidopsis thaliana. An unexpected phenotype of an auxin signaling mutant introduced me to the world of circadian biology. I was instantly fascinated by this internal clock that tracks changes in daylength and coordinates plant growth with the external environment. Later, my interests shifted towards exploring the consequences of this internal timekeeping on plant fitness. Little did I realize at the time that studying the circadian clock meant sacrificing my own clock when performing essential multi-day time course experiments.
As an NSF National Plant Genomes Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow, I applied co-expression network analysis to integrate temporal changes in transcriptomic and physiological responses to drought in the crop Brassica rapa. This study revealed early temporal indicators of drought perception and the importance of time when assessing stress response. Over time, acquired RNA-sequencing datasets provided the basis for exploring the expansion of the circadian transcriptome in Brassica rapa and has led to a broader interest in exploring the role of the clock during crop domestication. Due to the extensive polyploidy inherent in crop genomes, we are more dependent on computational approaches and the need for broadening our collaborations to computer science, engineering and mathematics. If my research experience has taught me anything, it is that discovery often happens outside our comfort zone and we must be willing to accept being uncomfortable if it means learning something new.
While my work focuses on plant fitness, I really love spending time on my own fitness. A successful day for me contains either a CrossFit workout or getting out on my bike. No matter the state of fitness, I believe the world is never brighter than after a good cup of coffee.
Angela (Angie) Ricono; M.S.
Laboratory Manager; PMB PhD Candidate
Department of Plant & Microbial Biology
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
M.S., The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg VA
B.S., Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne FL
Although there are a number of ways that plants continue to fascinate me, what I find most compelling about these organisms is their incredible ability to adapt to highly stressful environments. Those less familiar with these adaptations might assume that other organisms that can flee, fight, see, or think in a way similar to mammals might be “more evolved” and therefore may have a better chance to survive. Instead, we find myriad examples of how plants not only excel, but also play a critical role in shaping communities and the world that we see today.
Research-wise I am broadly interested in the evolution of plant chemical defenses, but more specifically would like to better understand how these chemical defenses have mediated co-evolutionary plant-animal relationships. I will be starting this fall as a PhD candidate in the Greenham lab and am excited to expand beyond my previous monarch-milkweed research into a brand new system - Brassica!! I am especially excited to explore the relatively “uncharted” territory of specialized metabolite biosynthesis and regulation within the context of the Circadian Clock.
Outside of research I am a cooking fiend! I love the idea of bringing people from different backgrounds together with a delicious meal, good wine, and interesting conversation. My pup, Ella, absolutely agrees and loves being my sous chef (aka taste tester), netflix binge buddy, and hiking pal.
Thomas (Tommy) Neary Undergraduate Researcher Biology, B.S University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Climate change will undoubtedly be one of the most substantial and pressing issues our planet faces over the next century. Like most other things caused by humans, it is up to us to fix this issue that will quite literally affect our survival as a species. My love for the environment and the biological sciences has made climate change an issue I could see myself devoting my life to. Specifically, I would like to one day work in the field of environmental health, working to improve environmental conditions and regulations for the benefit of societal health and well-being.
When I was given the opportunity to be a part of the Greenham lab, I was ecstatic! Dr. Greenham’s plant circadian and stress-response research is right up my environmentalist alley. This interest has led to a more specific curiosity regarding the effects that industrial and other environmental contaminants have on the viability of life. How will pollution affect our ability to successfully grow enough food on our increasingly populated and warming planet? Can we use plants to better understand what effects these contaminants will have on humans and other organisms? What can we do to stop any ill-effects environmental contaminants may have on life?
Outside of the lab, I spend most of my time drinking coffee, running, scrolling through the New York Times, and hanging out with my bros. I have also recently developed a passion for photography and am hoping to spend many of my weekends either hiking up North or out on the boat.