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
While there are numerous ways that plants continue to fascinate me, what I find most compelling about these organisms is their incredible ability to adapt to stress. Some might assume that non-sessile organisms (ie. mammals) which can often flee, fight, or at least conceptualize stress, are more likely to succeed in such demanding environments. However, we continue to find captivating plant adaptations that allow them to excel in stochastic and inhospitable environments.
What, then, makes one plant better at withstanding stressful environments over another? Are there specific adaptations that we can identify; and if so, can we use these “tools” to improve less tolerant crops? One mechanism that plants may use to become more tolerant is through alterations in (specialized) metabolism. Although there are numerous ways that this can arise, what I am most interested in is understanding how differences in time-of-day specific (circadian) regulation of specialized metabolism contributes to plant stress responses. My PhD research; therefore, explores this question in very tasty (and occasionally spicy) Brassica rapa cultivars, with a particular focus on sulfur-related metabolites.
Before becoming a scientist, I was a thespian-bartender hybrid for many years. I continue to pursue both aspects as often as I can, although now-a-days this is usually through a Netflix-wine combo. My beautiful pup, Ella, sincerely appreciates these endeavors and is more than happy to provide her opinion should any show/movie not be up to her tastes. Our most recent non-lab related aspirations include: finding every vegetable that I can pair with Farro (it’s not Brassica, but it’s delicious and Ella agrees), discovering fun new things that the Twin Cities have to offer, and hopefully -finally! – really discovering who John Galt is.
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.
Danielle Schoenecker Undergraduate Researcher Plant and Microbial Biology, B.S. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
I have always been interested in the biological sciences from a young age. Some of the first books I read supplied my brain with animal facts and identification. Although my interests now align with plant biology, I have kept the wonder of observing the differences between them and studying their evolution. I am especially fascinated by plant community interactions as well as plant resistances to extreme temperatures, pests, and drought.
Working for the Greenham lab has been highly enjoyable! So far, I have helped with a variety of tasks from plant care and seed collection to gene cloning and analysis to pollinator observations out in the field. There is always something new to learn about! While I am here, I hope to continue to learn more about the circadian rhythm in plants and how it guides the processes of Brassica rapa morphotypes.
Outside of work, I love to bike, draw, read, and hang out with friends! I also keep a variety of houseplants (terrestrial and aquatic), as well as a menagerie of pets including bunnies, fish, a leopard gecko, and a kitten.
Sydney Winecke Undergraduate Researcher Genetics, Cell Biology and Development B.S. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
I grew up in an environment that always encouraged my interest in both plants and biology as a whole, because my mother also studied biology for her undergraduate education and has always been a prolific gardener. Upon entering college, I understood that I had a deeply-rooted interest in genetic studies, but was not yet certain in which field of biology I wanted to apply this knowledge. Plants are a truly fascinating subject of study in the world of both genetics and physiology is what I have come to find in my time in the Greenham lab. I am excited to continue diving into a world in which I feel both a strong academic interest as well as a source of connection between myself and my mother.
I am elated to be a part of the Greenham Lab, which focuses on what implications the circadian clock may have in altering abiotic stress response. The work that I will be taking part in to enhance cold tolerance in B. rapa aligns closely with my interest in genetics, and also is expanding my knowledge in directions I would not have originally imagined. While I am here, I hope to gain more wet lab experience, a greater understanding of plant physiology and also computational skills.
In my time outside of the lab I enjoy hiking, playing tennis and exploring new running routes around the Minneapolis area.
Stevan Zorich 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.