Principal Investigator

Colleen Doherty




Graduate Students


Edmaritz Hernandez-Pagan


Plant Biomining Systems for Rare Earth Elements

Rare earth elements are essential to modern technology and renewable energy economies. Yet their acquisition is expensive and damaging to the environment. My research interest is in developing plant biomining systems that efficiently extract rare earth elements from bedrock or waste streams to reduce the environmental footprint and costs of providing rare earth elements for our economy. This work could reduce our dependence on foreign sources for rare earth elements improving the transition to a renewable economy.

Tyler “Blake” Horton


Interactions between the Circadian Clock and Simulated Microgravity

My research focuses on how the circadian clock functions in microgravity. I used clinostats to simulate microgravity on Earth at Kennedy Space Center and performed 48-hour time courses under simulated microgravity to observe the effect of microgravity on the circadian clock in Arabidopsis thaliana. RNA-seq analysis has shown that the circadian clock is disrupted under simulated microgravity. I am also focusing on how elevated CO2 levels affect nutritional quality in microgreens. NMR will be used to identify differences in metabolites in microgreens grown at normal 400ppm CO2 and elevated 3000ppm CO2.

Edmaritz Hernandez Pagan

Machine Learning for Mining Plant Data Resources

I am interested in the plant response to both abiotic and biotic stress. For example, how something like high nighttime temperature affects a plant’s ability to respond to further stressors like a pathogen. Understanding plant’s response to a combination of stressors is essential in order to model what is happening in the natural world. I am a second year PhD student in the Genomics Sciences Graduate Program studying Bioinformatics. This allows me to better integrate statistics, computer science, and biology when I approach a problem. I am co-advised by both Dr. Doherty and Dr. Nielsen (Bioinformatics). I am also passionate about data visualization and science communication. When I am not playing with data, you can find me playing racquetball, cooking, or watching Netflix

Postdoctoral Fellows


Kanjana Laosuntisuk


Circadian Oscillations in Arabidopsis Callus and Cell Suspensions

My research is focusing on how the circadian oscillation works in Arabidopsis callus and cell suspension. We observe the expression of circadian clock promoter genes in calli from different sources under different conditions to understand the circadian clock regulation in continuously growing cells compared with intact plants. We also plan to study the circadian rhythms in monocots such as rice and sorghum by using callus and cell suspension as a model.

Improving Rare Earth Uptake in Plants

Cis-regulatory Control of Gene Expession

Details (and picture) coming after COVID reopening.

Research Technician

Alice Chesley

Details (and picture) coming soon…..

Visiting Scientists



Undergraduate Students

  • Allison Haynes
  • Ainsley Horton
  • Patrick Cardona-Cosner
  • Swapnil Banerjee
  • S


Postdoctoral Researchers
  • Erin Slabaugh – Scientist III BASF
  • Cyprian Rajabu – Hanley-Bowdin Lab
PH.D. Students 
  • Jigar Desai– Post Doc, Wave Life Sciences Boston, MA
  • Dmitry Grinevich- Post Doc, NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Joseph Tolsma-
  • Montana Knight-
  • Kanjana Laosuntisuk (See above)
Master’s Students
  • Jiaqi DuanResearch Associate II, Forty Seven, Inc, San Francisco
  • Eric Waddell – Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center
  • Kanjana Laosuntisuk (see above!)
  • Donna Liebelt – Lumen Bioscience Seattle, Washington


  • Sarah Garfinkle
  • Racheal Spurlin
    • PhD Student
      Emory University
  • James Sheppard
  • Shannon Conroy
    • Graduate Student
    • University of Basel
  • Jacob Lasky
    • Data Analytics Program NCSU
  • Luong Phan
  • Zachary Zechman
  • Evan Brown
  • Jacob Fredenberg
  • Elizabeth Byers
  • Ricky Critchfield
  • Katie Ryan
  • Sammy Rueckeis


REU Students
  • Maria Sorkin
    • PhD Student
      Plant and Microbial Biosciences
      Washington University
  • Valeria C Laboy
    • Pharmacy Student
      University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Edmaritz Hernandez Pagan
    • PhD Student (See above!!!!)
      Molecular and Structural Biochemistry 
      North Carolina State University
  • Eva Malečková
    • PhD Student
      Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Silmara Correia