Principal Investigator

Colleen Doherty




Graduate Students


Dmitry Grinevich


Temperature Regulation of Plant Processes

The Doherty lab focuses on using the circadian clock as a tool for understanding how plants respond to stresses and control their daily physiological and metabolic processes. More specifically, my research is focused on the role that temperature plays in regulating plant processes and trying to determine the mechanisms which plants use to sense daily temperature cycles. My work uses computational analysis in combination with genetic and biochemical techniques to study transcriptional regulation of these temperature involved physiological pathways. Additionally, we are generally interested in understanding the time of day dependent response to heat stress in plant systems. Part of my research involves analyzing high throughput transcriptomic data from Arabidopsis treated with varying degrees of heat shock at different times of day and attempting to unravel the underlying transcriptional networks which help manage the heat stress.


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.


Donna Liebelt


Time and Temperature Regulation of Specialized Metabolites

Phytochemicals are a key contributor to the world nutraceutical supply; plant derivatives are in a variety of consumer products from food and health supplements to prescription drugs. The production and accumulation of many phytochemicals are tightly controlled based on environmental conditions; therefore, the yield and quality of these chemicals are at the mercy of a dynamic environment. As demand for plant derivatives continue to grow, producers face challenges of inconsistent products due to fluctuating environmental inputs. We are interested in investigating the impact of changing weather patterns and growing conditions on the composition of specialized metabolites, particularly those with a potential for improving human health. We are studying the effects of both high daytime and high nighttime temperatures on the profile of specialized metabolites in Humulus lupulus (hop). Hop plants, while known for their role in beer production, are a rich source of phytochemical nutraceuticals including antioxidants, antimicrobials, and essential oils. This research will provide information on the photochemical compositions of hop varieties in specific photoperiod and thermal profiles, such as in North Carolina. This data could reveal varieties and environmental conditions that maximize the desired phytochemical profile to benefit human health. Additionally, we will gain insights into the impact of changing environments on the regulation of phytochemicals, which could be applied to other crop systems targeted for the production of pharmaceuticals and other consumer products.

Joseph TOlsma

Interactions between the Circadian Clock and Gravitropism

I graduated from Northwestern College in 2017 before moving to Raleigh for the genetics graduate program. I enjoy playing board games, my cats, hiking, and gardening in my spare time. The goal of my current research is to better understand how plants respond to microgravity. More specifically, one of my projects is working to better understand the interaction between the circadian clock and gravity. To accomplish this, I am performing root bending assays over a 24-hour time course and utilizing the microgravity simulators at the Kennedy Space Center. Another part of my research is performing a meta-analysis of previous plant, space-flight experiments. Using this data, our goal is to identify enriched cis-elements that are important regualtors of the plant microgravity response. After this in silico work, we will identify trans-acting factors using Y2H before making constructs to visualize how these proteins of interest are expressed under various conditions.

Montana Knight

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


Jigar Desai


Time and Abiotic Stress

The goal of my research is to better understand the interaction of time and abiotic stresses. In particular, one of my projects deals with high night temperature and its effect on rice. Global climate change has not only increased average global temperatures but it is also reducing the daily temperature range because the daily minimum temperature is increasing faster than the minimum. Using high-throughput sequencing to quantify transcript expression, we can look for changes under high nighttime temperatures. Ultimately we want to understand mechanistically how high nighttime temperatures affect yield and how we can use this information to adapt plants to better deal with changing temperatures.

Juliette Jordan


Chemical Induced Plant Stress

I received my B.S. in Biology in 2009 and an M.S. in Biology in 2011, both from Georgia Southern University. I worked as an EHS intern from 2011 to 2012 and then as a buyer from 2012-2015 for Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems during which I earned an MBA from Georgia Southern University. In 2015, I decided to follow my passion and pursued PhD in Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University. I received my Ph.D. in just over three years and graduated in the Fall of 2018. My graduate work focused on the effects of engineered nanomaterials on crops such as tomato and cotton. I am currently an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellow working under the supervision of Dr. Colleen Doherty in the Structural and Molecular Biochemistry Department at North Carolina State University. As an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellow, I hope to develop early detection methods for crop stress. I will explore external factors, like time of day measurement is taken, and other varying environmental conditions to optimize detection methods. I will use gene expression measurements, hyperspectral imaging, and other monitoring methods to evaluate plant responses to the environment. Through this research, I aim to find the best indicators that will facilitate real-time monitoring of plant responses to environment. Besides from my passion for science I am also interested in the mind-body connection and is currently pursuing a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification at Cary Flow Yoga in Cary, NC.

Research Technician

Stephanie Ruzsa

Details (and picture) coming soon…..

Visiting Scientists



Undergraduate Students

  • Sammy Rueckeis
  • Elizabeth Byers
  • Ricky Critchfield
  • Katie Ryan




Postdoctoral Researchers
  • Erin Slabaugh – Scientist III BASF


Master’s Students
  • Jiaqi DuanResearch Associate II, Forty Seven, Inc, San Francisco
  • Eric Waddell – Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center
  • Kanjana Laosuntisuk (see above!)


  • 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


REU Students
  • Maria Sorkin
    • PhD Student
      Plant and Microbial Biosciences
      Washington University
  • Valeria C Laboy
  • Edmaritz Hernandez Pagan
    • PhD Student
    • Biochemistry
    • North Carolina State University


  • Eva Malečková
    • PhD Student
      Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Silmara Correia