Bertrand Black

Bertrand Black on a wooded trail, holding ferns

Profile

I am from Santa Fe, NM. I received a Bachelor of Science (2017) from Humboldt State University in Arcata CA, where I double majored in Botany and Biology with an emphasis on ecology and biodiversity. In the redwood forests of northern California, I became captivated by the ferns and other non-flowering plants. My undergraduate research focused on tissue culture, fern gametophyte morphology (using scanning electron microscopy), and chromosome staining in a hybrid complex of the genus Polypodium. In my free time, I enjoy cooking Japanese food, visiting museums, and staying active through hiking and yoga.

Research Description

My research interests have been greatly influenced by the life and work of the famous 18th century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Like Humboldt, I seek to maintain a holistic approach to my research by unifying diverse branches of scientific disciplines, such as systematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology.  In 2019, I joined the Barrington-Sundue Lab as a PhD student to uncover and characterize diversity, taxonomy and distribution of extant fern lineages. Currently, my research is focused on a model-based approach to explain patterns of fern diversity, in addition to a reexamination of Athyrium (Athyriaceae) systematics in temperate North America and the neotropics.

Aayudh Das

 Aayudh Das, outside in front of water, hills, cloudy sky

Profile

Grown up in the city of joy of India i.e. Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), I completed my Bachelor’s in Botany from Presidency College, Kolkata. In the beginning of 2014, I got the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant in South Dakota State University where I worked on identifying of heat and drought stress-responsive proteins in soybean seedling proteome and also involved in pre-harvest sprouting of wheat in a metabolomic approach. Alongside, I also investigated the proteomic responses of switchgrass and prairie cordgrass to senescence. In the end of 2014, I joined Texas A&M University, College Station where I followed through my previous research and completed my Master’s in Biochemistry (2016). In addition to research, I enjoy playing acoustic guitar, singing and cooking Indian food.

Research Description

In early 2016, I joined Plant Biology graduate program as a PhD candidate and started working under Dr. Jill Preston where I worked on genomic comparison of freezing and drought stress responses across the temperate cereal grass clade Pooideae. Currently, I’m examining the physiological and genetic intersections between drought and freezing tolerance in Pooideae.

Selected Publications

Paudel B*, Das A*, Tran M, Boe A, Palmer N, Sarath G, Gonzalez JL, Rushton P and Rohila JS (2016). Proteomic responses of switchgrass and prairie cordgrass to senescence. Front. Plant Sci. 7:293. (*Equal Contribution) DOI:10.3389/fpls.2016.00293.

Das, A., Eldakak M., Paudel B., Kim D. W., Hemmati H., Basu C., & Rohila J. S (2016). Leaf Proteome Analysis Reveals Prospective Drought and Heat Stress Response Mechanisms in Soybean. Biomed research International. vol. 2016, Article ID 6021047, 23 pages. DOI:10.1155/2016/6021047

Das A., Paudel B., & Rohila J. S. (2015). Potentials of Proteomics in Crop Breeding. In Advances in Plant Breeding Strategies: Breeding, Biotechnology and Molecular Tools (pp. 513-537). Springer International Publishing. ISBN: 978-3-319-22521-0

More on Aayudh Das

Aayudh Das on Google scholar

Matt Grasso

 Matt Grasso with microscope

Profile

I was born in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I moved to Vermont when I was seven and have lived here since. I received my B.S. in Plant Biology from the University of Vermont in 2013. I did undergraduate research in the Barrington Lab working on the reproductive biology of Vermont’s Polypodium species. I enjoy skiing, playing guitar, and playing soccer.

Research Description

Plant development is unique from animals in that living cells are fixed in place and enclosed within a cell wall matrix. As an apical meristem grows divisions are made adding cells to the top of the plant body. In this sense plant development is a process of construction, and the addition of new cells is in part governed by the physical arrangement of existing ones. Assessing how mechanical inputs influence processes of cell division and differentiation is a goal of this project. In doing this we aim to create a system in which mechanical forces can be applied to isolated plant cells in a consistent manner.

Masoumeh Khodaverdi

Masoumeh Khodaverdi outside

Profile

I grew up in Tehran, Iran. My academic life began by obtaining a B.Sc. degree in Plant Science. I pursued my studies with a focus on floral organ development, working on various species with the purpose of forecasting productivity of crops. In this line of research, I learned about a wide variety of microscopy imaging techniques. These techniques not only helped me in my research activities, but also aroused my artistic faculties (hence I took part in several microscopy imaging competitions, achieving the 9th rank among 2000 competitors). I got my masters from the Plant Science and Biotechnology Department at Syracuse University, where I also had the opportunity to work in Moz-Lab as a research assistant utilizing biotechnology tools for creating novel polymer-based materials. Aside from research, I enjoy photography, cooking desserts, and traveling to explore new places.

Research Description

My research interest is influenced by my diverse background relevant to topics such as microscopy techniques and molecular biology. I have joined Dr. Jill Preston's lab as a PhD student to study evolutionary genetics of Pooidea grass species. My current project is comprised of investigating the origin of cold-responsive genes in Melica and characterizing variation of vernalization across various climates.

Connor Lewis

 Connor Lewis outside

Profile

I grew up in Conway, Massachusetts and moved to Burlington in 2011 to pursue my undergraduate studies. Since then I have earned B.S. degrees in Ecological Agriculture and Molecular Genetics, managed a 12-acre vineyard for a year, and begun my graduate studies. In Burlington I found the perfect place to enjoy my hobbies including: snowboarding, mountain biking, fishing, gardening, and baseball.

Research Description

Building off previous research conducted in the Tierney lab, I am studying the interactions between the proteins CCDC22, CCDC93, and VPS26c. More specifically, using fluorescent protein fusions and double mutant analyses, I am working to characterize how their roles in endosomal trafficking pathways influence polarized cell growth in the root hair cells of Arabidopsis thaliana.

Sarah Morris

Sarah Morris outside in a wooded area near still water

Profile

I am originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, and I received my BSc in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida in 2014. After several field ecology jobs and a stint in plant records at the Atlanta Botanic Garden in Atlanta, Georgia, I travelled to London to earn my MSc in Plant Taxonomy from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was there that I was introduced to the unique and hyper-diverse Chocó Biogeographic Region in northwest South America. Nested between the Pacific Ocean and the Northern Andes, the Chocó is an extremely rainy lowland tropical rainforest that rises from sea level to approximately 1,000 meters and has some of the highest plant species richness and endemism rates on Earth. I wrote my master’s thesis on the origin and diversification of the aroid mega-genus Anthurium in the Chocó and have continued studying the plants of the Chocó ever since. In addition to research, I enjoy sewing, crochet and outdoor adventures with my rescue pup, Teeny.

Research Description

I am broadly interested in Neotropical plant phylogenetics, macroevolution and historical biogeography. For my dissertation, I am studying the ferns of the Chocó Biogeographic Region in Colombia. I will investigate the dynamics of speciation, extinction and migration that have shaped the lowland Chocoan fern flora and what role abiotic factors such as climate and mountain building played in its diversification. I am also part of the NSF-funded “Ferns of Colombia” project with my advisor Michael Sundue, as well as Wes Testo and Alejandra Vasco. You can follow my research on Google Scholar and Twitter.

Sandra Nnadi

Sandra Nnadi

Profile

I am from the South East of Nigeria and obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry (Thesis major: Plant Biochemistry). I also received a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry (Thesis major: Molecular Biology) where I worked on the Molecular diversity of genes involved in carotenoid biosynthesis in banana and plantain. I analysed the level of sequence variations in different Musa accessions at different loci involved in beta-carotene synthesis. My study was in partnership with the renowned International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria where I worked briefly after my Bachelor of Science degree.

Before Joining UVM, I worked as a Molecular biologist at the National Biotechnology Development Agency, Nigeria in the area of analysing Genetically Modified Organisms in food and feed after being trained by the European Union Reference Laboratory on Genetically Modified Food and Feed, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Ispra Italy. My Research interests include gene expression studies, Molecular characterization of candidate genes and  plant-microbial interactions.

Zoe Portlas

Profile

I grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota before moving to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a B.S. in Biological Sciences at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU, I worked in Professor Jill Hamilton's lab, investigating local adaptation of the seed and dispersal  structure of Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum). During my senior year and gap year after graduating, I worked in the lab of Dr. Jarrad Prasifka at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Fargo, studying the effect of floret size in cultivated sunflower (Helianthus annuus) on the attractiveness of the plant to its pollinators, wild bees and managed honey bees.

Research Description

In 2018, I joined the Keller Lab to pursue a PhD in Plant Biology. My research interests include population genetics, hybridization, and ecological interactions between plants and their pollinators.

Publications

1) Prasifka, J.R., R.E. Mallinger, Z.M. Portlas, B.S. Hulke, K.K. Fugate, T. Paradis, M.E. Hampton, and C.J. Carter. 2018. Using nectar-related traits to enhance crop-pollinator interactions. Frontiers in Plant Science 9:812. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00812

2) Portlas, Z.M., J. Tetlie, D. Prischmann-Voldseth, B.S. Hulke, and J.R. Prasifka. 2018. Variation in floret size explains differences in wild bee visitation to cultivated sunflowers. Plant Genetic Resources: 1-6. doi: 10.1017/S1479262118000072

Anoob Prakash

Anoob Prakash

Profile

I hail from “the God’s own country,” Kerala, a small southern state in India. Forest fragmentation and it’s ecological consequences have always intrigued me and thus steered me towards this stream of research. I am interested in studying the effects of climate change on the local adaptability and gene flow of forest tree species, as well as landscape genetics and spatial analysis. Prior to joining the Keller lab in 2018, I completed my B.Sc. (Hons.) and M.Sc. in Forestry with specialization in Tree Physiology and Breeding at Kerala Agricultural University. During that time, I investigated the effects of particulate pollution on the growth and physiology of trees in moist deciduous forests. In addition to research, I love to read, illustrate and play games.

Julie Raiguel

Julie Raiguel outside, large expanse

Profile

I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA.  Throughout high school, I was sure I would become a marine biologist.  While I am still an avid SCUBA diver, I fell in love with plants while pursuing my B.S. in biology at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.  In Charleston, I spent a semester working in a plant pathology lab at the USDA Vegetable Laboratory and a year on campus in Dr. Seth Pritchard's lab developing a steam girdling method for inducing fine root senescence.  After completing my undergraduate degree, I spent a year as the School and Youth Education Intern at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, helping to combat plant blindness in K-12 students of the area. 

Research Description

I am now pursuing a Master's Degree at UVM and working in the Harris Lab, where I am investigating a gene thought to be involved in legume nodulation.  Generally, I am interested in how plants interact with the biotic and abiotic stimuli in their environment.

Morgan Southgate

 Morgan Southgate kneeling on the ground outside

Profile

I grew up in central VT, and spent most of my time when not in school exploring the wilderness in my backyard. I developed a love for plants that led me to major in Plant Biology when I started at UVM as an undergraduate in 2013. I was quickly captivated by the detailed education in plant biology that I received from a diverse set of systematic, evolutionary, physiological, and ecological perspectives. While an undergraduate, I worked at the Pringle Herbarium and the Proctor Maple Research Center, and joined the Barrington Fern Systematics lab. Here, I focused my undergraduate thesis on the ecology and evolution of the Adiantum pedatum complex, a clade of maidenhair ferns, in northeastern North America. This research captivated me so thoroughly that I went on to continue the project as a graduate thesis at UVM.

Research Description

My passion is plant ecology, especially understanding why plants grow where they do. The focus of my thesis research is to characterize the ecological outcome of hybridization in the Adiantum pedatum complex on both local and regional scales in the context of the evolutionary history of the clade. As a side project, I’m working in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to update the ecological restoration plan for the LaPlatte Headwaters Town Forest, an old field in the early stages of succession in Hinesburg, VT.  In the future, I plan to develop and implement ecological restoration strategies for landscapes with histories of deforestation, nutrient depletion, and pollution. 

Publications

Southgate, M. W., Patel, N. R., & D. S. Barrington. 2019. Ecological Outcome of Allopolyploidy in Adiantum (Pteridaceae): Niche Intermediacy and Expansion into Novel Habitats. Rhodora 121: 108-135.

Berke Tinaz

 Berke Tinaz, in the lab holding a pipette

Profile

I graduated in 2016 from Skidmore College, where I majored in Biology and minored in Mathematics. During my time at Skidmore, I worked in Dr. David Domozych’s lab for all my 4 years, where I was introduced to plants. While there, I worked with the unicellular green alga Penium margaritaceum. We worked on Penium margaritaceum’s cell wall and developing it as a single cell plant model system. In my free time, I like working out, watching sports, and coaching for the UVM Crew Team.

Research Description

Currently, I am working on the functional evolution and the biochemical characterization of the MtLATD/NIP gene which encodes for a nitrate transporter in the model legume Medicago truncatula. This gene is required for root and nodule development and is expressed in the respective meristems. The LATD/NIP gene originated at the base of angiosperms, but it is not clear when it acquired the meristem function. To test this, I am checking the ability of the orthologs to rescue the latd mutant phenotype.

Publications

Raimundo, S. C., Sørensen, I., Tinaz, B., Ritter, E., Rose, J. K., & Domozych, D. S. (2018). Isolation and manipulation of protoplasts from the unicellular green alga Penium margaritaceum. Plant methods, 14(1), 18.

Domozych, D., Lietz, A., Patten, M., Singer, E., Tinaz, B., & Raimundo, S. C. (2017). Imaging the dynamics of cell wall polymer deposition in the unicellular model plant, Penium margaritaceum. In Light Microscopy (pp. 91-105). Humana Press, New York, NY.

Ochs, J., LaRue, T., Tinaz, B., Yongue, C., & Domozych, D. S. (2014). The cortical cytoskeletal network and cell-wall dynamics in the unicellular charophycean green alga Penium margaritaceum. Annals of botany, 114(6), 1237-1249.

Larson, E. R., Tierney, M. L., Tinaz, B., & Domozych, D. S. (2014). Using monoclonal antibodies to label living root hairs: a novel tool for studying cell wall microarchitecture and dynamics in Arabidopsis. Plant methods, 10(1), 30.

Berke Tinaz on ResearchGate

Charlotte Uden

Charlotte Uden in a canoe

Profile

I am from Canterbury, England, but spent my undergraduate years at Bennington College in southern Vermont. I studied forest ecology and was interested in the impact of historic forest fragmentation and land use on species composition. I like spending time with my dog, skiing and going to see the overwhelming supply of live music that Burlington has to offer.

Research Description

Currently, I am a graduate student in the Beckage lab working with LPJ-GUESS, a dynamic terrestrial ecosystem model. The model will be used to project forest composition at the time of European settlement. Ultimately, I hope to use shifts in species composition that result from alternative fire intervals to gain insight into human-induced fire frequency at the time. 

Brittany Verrico

Brittany Verrico in a DNA costume

Profile

I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I received a B.A. in Biology and German from Washington & Jefferson College. My interest in plants began in high school while making a plant scrapbook that creatively explained the life cycle of a tree and I have since followed my intellectual curiosity of plants. My undergraduate research focused on plant ecology and vegetative phenology. As an intern in Dr. John Parker’s lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), I investigated how phenotype, phylogenetic similarity, and introduced status influences community assembly. I enjoy hiking, photography, reading, cooking, and crafting.

Research Description

My academic interests lie at the confluence of population genetics, ecology, climate change, and forest tree biology. As a graduate student in the Keller Lab, I seek to understand how gene flow and selection structure genetic diversity and adaptation across fine-scale environmental and climatic gradients. I am using the boreal tree red spruce (Picea rubens) as a focal species, which is a dominant component of high elevation northeastern forests. I am also using a 50-year chronosequence to analyze forest community change and the upslope shift of the boreal-deciduous forest ecotone in the Green Mountains, VT.

Regina Visconti

Regina Visconti on a window sill with plants

Profile

Originally hailing from Newington, CT, I decided to uproot myself and move to Tampa to pursue a degree at the University of Tampa. It was there I earned my B.S. in biochemistry. After much deliberation, I decided to go to grad school at UVM and take an interdisciplinary approach to plant biology. It was here that I discovered how wonderful it is to be so close to nature. I can frequently be found walking in the woods and enjoying all the sunshine and water (snow) here. I love yoga and a variety of art forms.

Research Description

I joined the Tierney Lab in order to study endomembrane trafficking in Arabidopsis. I am  specifically looking at the role ER bodies and their associated proteins have in response to stress. I will do this by monitoring whole plant phenotypes and fluorescent fusion proteins under normal and stressed conditions. I hope a better understanding of this ER body pathway will allow for further characterization of a plant's stress response that may even be applicable to species other than Arabidopsis thaliana.

Rachel Wilson

Rachel Wilson outside

Profile

I grew up in St. Clair Shores, Michigan and moved to Bowling Green, Ohio where I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biology. During my time there I worked in several labs. In my undergraduate career I studied a pathogenic oomycete which causes Root Rot in Glycine max. During my Master’s I focused on the genetic basis of color polymorphisms in Lupinus perennis. In addition to my love of plant I enjoy outdoor actives. In particular I love distance and trail running.

Baxter Worthing

Baxter Worthing outside

Profile

I grew up in Brunswick, Maine. I completed a B.S. and M.S. in Biology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. While at Clark, I conducted my undergraduate and graduate research in the lab of Dr. Deb Robertson, where I studied the genetics of marine diatoms. In my free time, I enjoy skiing, biking, hiking, juggling and trying new foods.

Research Description

I am fascinated by the role that environmental change plays in shaping both the short-term, transcriptional changes observed in individuals and the long-term evolutionary paths taken by populations. I am particularly interested in using genetics and genomics to characterize adaptation to new and/or challenging environments. I am currently working on a project in the Preston lab, which aims to profile two genes that are hypothesized to contribute to cold tolerance in temperate grasses.