InterestsPlant cell biology; physiology; space biology.
Plants rely on sophisticated mechanisms to interpret the constant bombardment of incoming signals so they can adjust their growth accordingly. In my laboratory, we are interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of gravitropism and phototropism (directed growth in response to gravity and light, respectively). In the gravitropism project, we have been studying how statoliths (structures that function in graviperception) interact with the cytoskeleton in gravitropic signal transduction. In terms of phototropism, we have been examining the role of the photosensitive pigment phytochrome in the regulation of this tropism in both roots and stems. We have had a series of past spaceflight projects which used microgravity as a tool to understand the mechanisms of tropistic responses. Currently, we have been approved by NASA for several new experiments on the International Space Station to investigate plant tropisms. Our long-term goal is to understand how plants integrate sensory input from multiple light and gravity perception systems. We welcome inquiries from both undergraduates and graduate students who are interested in these topics.