Lisa_Ainsworth Lisa Ainsworth, Ph.D., USDA ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, Associate Professor of Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
Dr. Ainsworth is a plant physiologist studying plant responses to global environmental change. She received the Charles Albert Shull Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists, the President’s Medal from the Society of Experimental Biology and was named a University scholar by the University of Illinois. Her current research aims to quantify genetic variation in response to elevated ozone concentrations among diverse inbred and hybrid maize lines in the field, develop and use high-throughput phenotyping techniques to identify ozone sensitivity in maize and soybean, and identify the genes and gene networks underpinning the ozone response in maize and soybean.
Ivan_Baxter Ivan Baxter, Ph.D., USDA-ARS Research Scientist and Assistant Member and Principal Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO
Dr. Baxter’s research uses high-throughput elemental profiling to measure the elemental composition of plant tissues including soybean seeds and corn kernels. These data are used to perform genetics and modeling to understand how the interactions of elements, genes, and the environment determine the elemental composition of plants and allow plants to adapt to different environments.
Asaph_Cousins Asaph Cousins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University
Dr. Cousins received his B.S. in Biology from California State University and his PhD. in Plant Biology from Arizona State University. Dr. Cousins’s research couples molecular biology techniques with plant physiology and mathematical modeling of photosynthesis to understand the mechanistic processes dictating plant-environment interactions. This research uses a variety of experimental techniques, including field experiments, leaf and whole plant gas exchange, recombinant DNA techniques, biochemistry, and metabolite analysis to elucidate how the interactions of plant light utilization, carbon and nutrient assimilation, and isotope discrimination are influenced by changing environmental conditions.
Erika_Edwards Erika Edwards, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI
Dr. Edwards is a plant evolutionary biologist and her research group focuses on the evolution of plant adaptations to new environments. She is especially drawn to trait syndromes that have evolved multiple times and uses these convergent events as 'natural experiments' that provide insight into how complicated new phenotypes are gradually assembled in evolutionary time. Her research integrates many kinds of data -- anatomical, ecological, physiological, and genomic -- with a phylogenetic perspective. Edwards has particular interest in C4 and CAM photosynthesis, two complex plant adaptations that together have evolved hundreds of times, in distantly related plant lineages, over the last 30 million years.
Malia_Gehan Malia Gehan, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, Dr. Todd Mockler’s Lab, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO
Dr. Gehan is a plant molecular biologist interested in the natural variation of abiotic stress responses in plants. In 2012, she received a NSF-PGRP Postdoctoral fellowship to examine temperature stress in Brachypodium distachyon, a model grass for food and biofuel crops. To investigate the variation of B. distachyon and other species under stress, she uses NGS and high-throughput phenotyping technologies, which led her to develop open-source plant trait extraction software, PlantCV, with Dr. Noah Fahlgren and Dr. Max Feldman. She is also the co-founder of a Maker Group at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center that engineers low-cost phenotyping tools.
N_Michele_Holbrook N. Michele Holbrook, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry, Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Dr. Holbrook received her B.A. in Biology from Harvard University and her PhD in Biology from Stanford. Dr. Holbrook’s lab studies the physics and physiology of vascular transport in plants with the goal of understanding how constraints on the movement of water and solutes between soil and leaves influences ecological and evolutionary processes. Dr. Holbrook is currently working on questions relating to embolism repair, leaf hydraulic design, and xylem evolution, as well as long-distance transport physiology in plants and xylem:phloem interactions.
Marc_Johnson Marc Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of Toronto at Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Johnson studies the ecology and evolution of plant-animal interactions in natural and managed ecosystems by integrating techniques from genomics, chemistry, phylogenetics and statistics. His research seeks to understand the genetic and phenotypic mechanisms plants use to defend themselves against herbivores, as well as the counter-defenses animals employ to exploit their hosts. He has examined the dynamic nature of the co-evolutionary process over as little as 1-5 generations, and as long as millions of years, where co-evolution shapes the diversity of life on earth. Dr. Johnson’s research also seeks to understand how genetic variation between individuals and evolution within populations shapes the processes and functioning of natural ecosystems, including the abundance and diversity of organisms and the flux of nutrients.
Toni_Kutchan Toni Kutchan, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO
Dr. Kutchan is currently investigating two aspects of natural products that are found in plants; how plants produce medicinal natural products at the enzyme and gene level, which could lead to new sources of medications for use against conditions such as dementia and cancer; and the use of plant natural products as components of biofuels.
Michael_Moore Michael Moore, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
Dr. Moore is a plant systematist interested in how ecophysiological shifts, particularly shifts in substrate and climate tolerance, influence the diversification of plants. In 2011, he received an NSF CAREER award to reconstruct the assembly and diversification of the large but relatively poorly known gypsum endemic flora of the Chihuahuan Desert and has recently expanded this work by helping to found GypNet, a global consortium of botanists interested in gypsum plant ecology and evolution. He is also involved in two other NSF-funded projects that use NGS data to investigate ecophysiological and molecular evolution within different large angiosperm clades—the Caryophyllales and the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).
Chris_Oakley Chris Oakley, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Dr. Oakley received his M.S. and Ph.D. in biology from Florida State University where he studied plant mating system evolution, as well as the consequences of small population size on quantitative genetic variation and plant performance. He is presently a postdoctoral associate at Michigan State University. His current research focus is the genetic basis of local adaptation, with the goal of understanding the phenotypic traits and genes that underlie fitness tradeoffs across environments. He also investigates the genetic basis of heterosis in natural populations.
Sona_Pandey Sona Pandey, Ph.D., Associate Member and Principal Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO
Plants show a phenomenal degree of adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in response to different environmental conditions. The Pandey lab is taking complementary approaches using both model organisms as well as agronomically relevant crops to establish a foundation with discovery-based research and its translation to agricultural applications. The major focus areas of her research are elucidation of the physiological, genetic and metabolic networks involved in the plant’s response to environmental stresses. Her lab works with a class of evolutionary conserved proteins, the heterotrimeric G-proteins and a plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA).
David_Salt David Salt, Ph.D., Professor and Sixth Century Chair of Plant Science, Co-Director Centre for Genome-Enabled Biology and Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Dr. David E. Salt has held faculty positions at Rutgers University, Northern Arizona University, and Purdue University, and is currently a Sixth Century Chair in Plant Science and the Director of the Centre for Genome Enabled Biology & Medicine at the University of Aberdeen. He has a long-term interest in understanding the mechanisms that regulate the mineral nutrient and trace element composition (aka ionome) of plants, along with the evolutionary forces that shape this regulation. He has also pioneered the development of cyberinfrastructure (www.ionomicshub.org) to ‘open source’ ionomic data. His work is currently funded by NSF, NIH, BBSRC, Leverhulme Foundation and the European Commission.
Erin_Tripp Erin Tripp, Ph.D., Curator of Botany, Museum of Natural History, Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
Dr. Tripp is a comparative biologist interested in how ecological and evolutionary processes shape origins and maintenance of biodiversity, in particular phenotypic evolution and biogeography, across multiple geological time scales and different domains of life. Her research draws from multiple lines of evidence including molecular phylogenomics and ecology, anatomy, taxonomy, biochemistry, paleontology, and climatology, to reconstruct and interpret evolutionary histories of extant life. Dr. Tripp’s research program is built around a species-rich lineage of flowering plants (Acanthaceae) with diverse histories that include ancient and recent biological radiations in different biomes ranging from tropical to temperate and from ultra-arid deserts to ever-wet ecosystems. Dr. Tripp’s research also draws evidence from a different domain of life—lichens—to similarly investigate salient patterns in biodiversity evolution, past and present, with data-driven predictions for the future.
John_Willis John Willis, Ph.D., Professor, Duke University Biology Department, Durham, NC
Adam_Wilson Adam Wilson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Global Environmental Change, Geography Department, University of Buffalo, NY
Dr. Wilson's interdisciplinary research investigates the implications of global environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem function. He uses high performance computing with multi-scale Hierarchical Bayesian (HB) models and diverse data streams including climate model output, remote sensing, field observations, and historical data sets. His past research projects include shifting phenology in the temperate forests of North America, photographing the mosses of Patagonia, eco-tourism development in the desert margins of Morocco, and post-fire ecosystem resilience in South African shrublands.
For questions, please contact Kathleen Mackey by email at kmackey@danforthcenter.org or by phone at 314-587-1203.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Leica Microsystems
Click here to see poster abstracts.

Click here to see who's coming.