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.
Kathleen (Kat) Markham, Ph.D. Post-doctoral Associate Department of Plant & Microbial Biology University of Minnesota - Twin Cities markat[at]umn.edu
Ph.D. Biochemistry, University at Buffalo, Buffalo NY B.S. Biology, Florida State University, Tallahassee FL
While plants have always intrigued me, I am new to the world of plant research! My PhD work focused on mammalian cell-cell/cell-matrix interactions and the integrin receptors mediating these interactions in the peripheral nervous system. I am applying this experience to Katie’s exciting circadian clock work as we move to investigating expression patterns at single-cell resolution.
I was introduced to plant circadian mechanisms at CSHL’s Frontiers and Techniques in Plant Science 2016 course. There I learned that the clock regulates one-third of all transcripts in Arabidopsis. If we can better understand the circadian network, we can improve the plant’s response to the changing environment. I am thrilled to be part of this important area of research!
Outside of lab, I enjoy singing, dancing, swimming, and exploring the many neighborhoods (and lakes!) of Minneapolis with my funny husband.
Madeline (Maddy) Oravec (nee Olberg), Ph.D. Post-doctoral Associate Department of Plant & Microbial Biology University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Ph.D. Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI M.S. Horticulture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN B.S. Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY molberg[at]umn.edu
All my life I have been captivated by the living world around me. I am continually amazed by the remarkable complexity and plasticity of plants, and am especially intrigued by how plants respond and adapt to their unpredictable and ever-changing environment.
My master’s project focused on implementation of reduced-temperature greenhouse floriculture production. While doing this work, I realized that crop genetic background ultimately limited the efficacy of reduced-input production methods. This in part inspired my pursuit of a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics. My Ph.D. research focused on elucidating the genetic basis of chloroplast-associated cold tolerance in cucumber. The aims of my research in the Greenham lab are to investigate and exploit temporal gene expression patterns associated with cold tolerance in Brassica rapa. This research focus reflects my continued interest in plant genetic and physiological mechanisms of abiotic stress tolerance. When not in the lab, you can usually find me with my dogs, cat, horse, and/or husband: hiking, gardening, trail riding, or renovating our house.
Angela (Angie) Ricono; M.S.
Plant and Microbial Biology 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.
Ananda Menon Lab Manager/Researcher Biology, M.S. College of William and Mary Biology, B.A. College of Wooster
As an undergraduate, my exam final in introductory biology asked the question: “Plants are sessile and modular. How does this affect their life strategies?” This intentionally vague question was immensely influential in my life, though I did not understand it at the time.
In the Greenham Lab, I have been fortunate to learn techniques in plant gene editing, phenotyping, grant writing and greenhouse upkeep. My position also allows me to be part of several ongoing projects on characterizing circadian rhythms and plant stress response, which has been an immensely rewarding experience. We have begun doing preliminary work in characterizing the circadian dynamics of nectar production and pollinator attraction in Brassica rapa. Outside the lab, I enjoy keeping tropical fish and houseplants, watching bad TV and playing video games.
Eileen Kosola Undergraduate Researcher Biology, B.S University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
With a crop physiologist and a tomato geneticist as parents, I grew up surrounded by plant science. In particular, I am fascinated by the way plants use their own unique adaptations to survive and carry out the same goals as humans (finding nutrients, avoiding disease and predation, etc.) despite coming from entirely different circumstances. I also have some background in image analysis, using a program called plantcv to gather data on phenotypic traits from plant images. I find the challenge of designing workflows that accurately extract data when applied across many images to be both intriguing and exciting.
I am very excited to get to work with the Greenham lab! The circadian clock naturally interests me, and I look forward to learning from everyone in the lab. I am also thrilled to get a chance to apply my experience with plantcv, as I will be using image analysis to help detect abiotic stress tolerance across different Brassica rapa genotypes. I hope to learn more about data analysis and plant adaptations to stress in the process.
Outside of the lab, I am part of a competitive winter guard group, and I also enjoy reading, drawing, and watching anime in my free time.
Leila Rquibi Undergraduate Researcher Plant and Microbial Biology, B.S. French, B.A. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
I have always enjoyed learning about science and the huge diversity of life forms on our planet. It is fascinating to me to see how these organisms interact with and shape the environment that they live in and that we experience as humans. For me, plants have always been a captivating part of that experience. As a Plant and Microbial Biology major, it has been exciting to connect my love of plants and the natural world with my enjoyment of learning and passion for academics. I look forward to increasing my understanding of the inner workings of plant physiology and genetics, as well as the ways we can use that knowledge to positively impact the world’s environments and the communities who depend on them.
I am especially thrilled to be working in the Greenham lab, where our work has the potential to benefit communities in need by increasing crop performance. Specifically, I am working to understand the genetic basis of circadian traits in Brassica rapa. My project involves measuring a variety of phenotypes in B. rapa and using statistical tools to identify regions of the genome likely to contain genes that influence these traits. I hope to gain valuable experience doing wet lab work and becoming more acquainted with computational methods, as well as learning from the work of my fellow lab members.
In my time outside of work, I enjoy cooking, baking, reading, and knitting. I also have a love of the arts, and try to get to museums or the theatre when I can! When I can’t, reading this month’s Vogue to my plants is a good stand-in.
Stevan Zorich Undergraduate Researcher
Computational Biology, B.S. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
I’m primarily from a computer science background but have recently gained a strong interest in biology. I want to learn more about the use of computational techniques, especially machine learning, in the analysis of genomic/transcriptomic and phenotypic data. Genomic data is complex, and as such it’s difficult to distinguish signal from noise; however, the challenge of doing so absolutely fascinates me. One area in which computational techniques are rapidly changing is in the field of Bioinformatics. I hope to discover new ways to use these techniques to further understand the underlying code that determines so much of the function and diversity of life.
I’m particularly excited about my new position at the Greenham Lab. Here, I will be using transcriptome sequences to characterize circadian rhythms in plants which is exactly in line with what I’m looking for. Specifically, I am looking forward to using machine learning to integrate this information with other biologically relevant data and also gain some wet lab experience. Furthermore, I’m eager to learn from the others here at the lab and gain a greater understanding of biology, and share the knowledge I’ve gained thus far from formally studying computer science.
Outside of work, I mostly enjoy reading and photography, although my interests tend to be a bit all over the place.
Former Lab Members
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.
Kerri Newcomer Undergraduate Researcher University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
I am interested in both computer science and biology because I love the sense of accomplishment I get from problem solving. While figuring out the best way to write code for something, the vast range of possibilities that computers open up amazes me. I enjoy continuing to learn about biology - more specifically, plant biology - because there is so much we don’t understand yet that makes it all exciting.
Being able to be a part of the Greenham Lab has been such a joy. There is never a dull moment and I have already learned so many new things in such a short period of time. Between taking care of plants, molecular work, and coding, I’m never bored. While here, I hope to develop more useful computational skills, a better understanding of the scientific process, and to learn more about plant metabolism. When not working, I love hiking, hanging with friends, exploring new places, playing video games, and cooking. I love to try new things whether it is a new food or a new experience.