Current Lab Members

Michael D. Purugganan (Principal Investigator)


Michael D. Purugganan is the Dorothy Schiff Professor of Genomics and Professor of Biology at New York University. Since the summer of 2012, he has served as the Dean for Science of NYU. He is also on the affiliated faculty and the co-director of the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at NYU Abu Dhabi. Given all of this, he has decided to forego sleep and weekend fun just so he can also do research and teach.


Jonathan M. Flowers (Research Scientist)


Jonathan completed his Ph.D. research on studies of evolutionary genetics under the supervision of Dr. Ronald S. Burton at the University of California San Diego in 2005. He then conducted a two-year post-doc in the laboratory of Walter Eanes at Stony Brook University, where he worked on Drosophila to address problems in metabolic adaptation and the evolution of metabolic pathways. Since joining the Purugganan lab at NYU, Jonathan has led or co-led resequencing projects on Dictyostelium discoideum, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, rice, Arabidopsis and date palm. Each of these studies has had specific aims related to characterizing the causes of molecular evolution in each species and the discovery of genes controlling important traits including those of agronomic interest. He is currently continuing to work on problems in the evolution of crop species.

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Anne Plessis (Postdoctoral Fellow)


Anne did her PhD in France, from 2005 to 2008 at the national institute for agronomical research (INRA) in Versailles, working on Arabidopsis mutants that were more tolerant to water deficit. After that she stayed in Versailles for a short while to study pea leaf development and architecture. She then moved to another INRA research center, at Clermont-Ferrand, to investigate how the synthesis of wheat grain storage proteins was regulated. At this point, she decided that she had seen enough of France and should have a look at how research is done in another country. That is one reason why she joined the Purugganan lab in october 2012. Her project there is to look into rice transcriptomics in the field. As Greenwich Village is not the best place to grow rice, she is collaborating with the IRRI in the Philippines.


Olivia Wilkins (Postdoctoral Fellow)


Olivia completed her PhD research on transcriptional responses to drought and time of day signals in poplar trees and in arabidopsis in Dr. Malcolm Campbell's lab at the University of Toronto in 2009. She joined the Purugganan lab in October 2011 as an NSERC post-doctoral fellow. Her research aims to connect metabolic and phenotypic phenomena to environment-induced transcriptional responses by learning gene regulatory interaction networks in rice and arabidopsis. To this end, she has conducted a large-scale experiment at IRRI in the Philippines and has made extensive use of publically available data sets. She works in close collaboration with Rich Bonneau's lab at NYU, and with scientists at the Australian National University and at IRRI.

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Khaled Hazzouri (Research Scientist)


Khaled completed his PhD at the University of Toronto in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Wright studying mating system evolution in Capsella and Collinsia. Khaled joined the Purugganan lab at NYU Abu Dhabi in July 2012 where he is now working on origin and spread of domesticated date palms.


Inês Pires (Ph.D. Candidate)


Inês completed, in 2009, her MS in Biological Engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico – Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal, while collaborating with the Industrial Microbiology group from Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. During 2010, Inês worked as a molecular biologist at Genomics of Plant Stress Laboratory in Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica – Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. And in the beginning of 2011, she became a PhD student at the same institute while collaborating with the Purugganan Laboratory at Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at New York University, USA. Since 2010, Inês has been focusing on salt stress tolerance in rice (O. sativa L.) studying it from different perspectives. After analyzing the phylogeny of key salt tolerance genes (NHX and SOS1) in plants, she is now aiming at performing GWAS to identify possibly new genic regions involved in salt stress tolerance and to better characterize this trait in rice.


Wei Yuan (Ph.D. Candidate)


Wei got her B.Sc in Biology from China Agricultural University in 2009. Throughout her years in college, she always found herself fascinated by the complexity of all types of life forms, especially plants. After gaining research experience in plant evo-devo and developmental genetics, she ended up in the legendary city of New York, and the legendary Purugganan Lab. Right now Wei is engaged in a few extremely cool things: first of all her research project of developing a new technique in Arabidopsis thaliana, namely the xQTL mapping technique, to better investigate the chromosomal regions that are related to specific natural variations in plants; secondly Wei is happily pressured to rock climb by Gina, and on weekends she is exploring the cultural richness that NYC offers, including the artistic underground scenes...


Caryn Johansen (Masters Student)


Caryn completed her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Humboldt State University in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, she worked as a research assistant at the Carnegie Institute of Science, Dept of Plant Biology in the laboratory of Sue Rhee studying the genetics of salt tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana natural variants. Caryn is specifically interested in the evolution of traits that confer fitness while plants develop and reproduce under abiotic stress conditions such as drought and ionic stress. Caryn is also interested in the organization and visualization of large genomic datasets and she is excited about the massive increase in available plant data. At NYU, she is completing a MS in bioinformatics (May 2016). In the Purugganan lab, she is building a relational database and web tool to host and query data from two genomic research projects in the Oryza genus. She owns a bonsai named Telemachus.



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