Departmental Accomplishments

The 27th annual Plant Molecular Biology retreat, coordinated this year by Prof. Becky Boston, was held in Asheville on Sept. 13-15. Michael Judge, an undergraduate who worked with Profs. Alonso and Stepanova, is profiled in this post about the retreat.

Prof. JoAnn Burkholder's Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology and Flow Cytometry Lab put NCSU in 31st place on a list of US Colleges and Universities committed to saving the planet.

View photos of the recent student welcome event here.

Prof. Terri Long's collaboration with the College of Engineering highlighted by NCSU as an example of the kinds of interdisciplinary approaches being planned by NCSU.

Prof. Jenny Xiang receives adjunct professorship at the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Mary Dell Chilton awarded the World Food Prize! Dr. Chilton established the company now known as Syngenta and, along with her late husband, Prof. Scott Chilton, endowed the department with an undergraduate research fellowship that is awarded annually.

Prof. Jillian DeGezelle will join the department in August as a Teaching Assistant Professor in the area of Ethnobotany. In addition to increasing the number of courses in this area, Jillian will develop online sections of existing undergraduate courses. Welcome aboard, Jillian!

The first faculty to be hired as part of the Chancellor's Faculty Excellence Plan is Prof. Rosangela Sozzani, who will join the Plant and Microbial Biology Dept. on August 16th. Ross's position is part of an ongoing cluster hire in Synthetic and Systems Biology. Welcome Ross!

Congratulation to Charles Parrish for winning an award at the Undergraduate Symposium! Charles was advised by Prof. Imara Perera.

Congratulations to Profs. Jim Mickle and Chad Jordan for recieving the Gertrude M. Cox award for creative pedagogy in distance education!

Congratulations to Prof. Terri Long for her key role in the recently funded NSF INSPIRE award!

Prof. Imara Perara receives "cargo from outer space" - her seedlings sent to the International Space Station have finally returned!

Congratulations to Prof. Jenny Xiang, recipient of NCSU's 3rd annual Outstanding Global Engagement Award! She received the award at the 3rd Annual Global Engagement Exposition, on Thursday, April 11.

Congratulations to Anna Stallmann, who recieved an NSF Graduate Fellowship to continue progress towards her PhD in Prof. Terri Long's lab!

Congratulations to Amanda Faucette for receiving a North Carolina Native Plant Society Tom & Bruce Shinn Grant!  The grant will support Amanda's work inventorying Buxton Woods (Dare Co.) and developing an illustrated taxonomic manual to the vascular flora of the site. Amanda's work will contribute directly to current natural resource management needs, including the development of burn plans and monitoring programs for rare taxa. Amanda's advisor is Prof. Alexander Krings.

Exhibit in Witherspoon Student Center profiles the life and legacy of Prof. Gus Witherspoon, the first African American professor in university history and a former member of this department.

Global Plant Health Intern Mary Lewis, who recently graduated from Plant Biology, interviewed about her 6-week summer experience in Costa Rica. Professors Margo Daub and Jean Ristaino direct this NSF-funded program. Mary's research presentation on Black Sigatoka can be found here. - CALS Perspectives, Winter 2013

Prof. Alexander Krings to offer plant identification workshops, two of which may be taken for credit towards Environmental Education certification by the NC Office of Environmental Education. Space is limited.

Plant Biology Dept. highlighted by CALS Office of Diversity Affairs for diversity of faculty members.

Science Careers Blog describes visit with Sirius Li, others at Kannapolis, as a visit to an "Emerald City" of Science. - Science, 11/6/12

Plant Systems Biology and Engineering Workshop co-hosted by the Deptartments of Plant Biology and Electrical and Computer Engineering and by the National Science Foundation, Nov. 1 -3, 2012.

Plant Biology ABM degree approved! A 5-year, accelerated Bachelor/Masters degree is now available as an option for undergraduate students in their third year of study. Interested students with at least a 3.5 G.P.A. and 72 credit hours should meet with Professor Chad Jordan to discuss this option.

Technician highlights Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh's research, Sept. 28, 2012

Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh joins the Department as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Hsieh (pronounced Shay) has a lab at the Plants for Human Health Institute in Kannapolis, along with Assistant Professor Xu "Sirius" Li, who joined the department last year.

Hayley Stowe, 2011 Chilton Undergraduate Research Award recipient, and Dona Maria to write an herbal medicine field guidefor Guatamala.

Lost in Space - 2,000 of Prof. Imara Perara's seedlings are stuck on board the International Space Station. - Nature, 4/25/12

Congratulations to Jenny Xiang, on her promotion to full professor.

Congratulations to Charles Parrish, winner of the 2012 Chilton Undergraduate Research Award.

Congratulations to our winners in the Innovation
Fair of CALS' Stewards of the Future -

* First place:  Deyu Xie, Heike Sederoff, and Amy Grunden, "Jet fuel from Camelina at NCSU: a systems approach."

* Third place:  Carol Kinder, Elle Allen, Linda MacKenzie, Jenny James, and JoAnn Burkholder: "Advances in safeguarding water supplies."

Congratulations - to Jenny Stanley, a graduate student in Dr. Alexander Kring's lab, for winning the 2012 Student Presentation Award at the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society/Association of Southeastern Biologists joint meeting in Athens, Georgia. Jenny presented an inventory and guide to the flora of Picture Creek, NC.

Next Generation Jet Fuel - Drs. Heike Sederoff and Amy Grundon plan to add value to the oil crops Dunaliella and Camelina using extremophile genes. - Perspectives, Winter, 2012

Mysterious Satellite DNA in Africa - Dr. Linda Hanley-Bowdoin and Dr. Joseph Ndunguru (Tanzania) received a Gates Foundation BREAD grant to study the mysterious satellite DNAs that help overcome geminivirus resistance in cassava. - Perspectives, Winter, 2012

Teaching Postdoctoral Fellows - Dr. Sue Carson mentors the Biotechnology Program's unique Teaching Postdoctoral Fellows. - Perspectives, Winter, 2012

Rediscovering the Uses of Ancient Plants in Modern Medicine - Dr. Deyu Xie discusses the role of medicinal plants in his personal and professional life - Technician, 2/20/12

NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates -

Sue Carson and Amy Grunden's grant entitled "integrated Molecular Plant Systems" was renewed for three more years (2012 - 2015). Note: applications for Summer, 2012 were due February 24.

Paleobotanist visits Island Academy -

Jim Mickle identifies fossils from Antigua - Observer News, 10/15/11

Using Microscopic Algae to Solve Big Fuel Problems -

Heike Winter-Sederoff and her team investigate the prospects of algae biofuels. - Technician, 10/25/11

Fuel from the Sea -

Drs. Heike Sederoff and Amy Grunden -The sea has always been a source of food, travel and trade for humans. Now, researchers from NC State are trying to extract energy from the sea as well. A multidisciplinary team — from various departments in the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences — is genetically modifying marine algae to produce large amounts of fatty acids that can be processed into transportation fuels. - Results, Fall, 2011

Breaking Down the Wall to Cellulose-

"If we understand how cellulose and plant cell walls are made, we can manipulate them for human benefit."

Dr. Candace Haigler’s cellulose research has implications for lumber, paper, fuel and textile industries. - Results, Fall, 2011

Specialized Plant Lab Moves into 21st Century

Dr. Carole Saravitz has to step over a puddle to open a plant growth chamber inside the Southeastern Plant Environment Laboratory on NC State’s campus. But $1.8 million in Recovery Act funding through the National Science Foundation (NSF) not only gives the Phytotron a needed face lift, University officials say, it also will open up new areas of research for NC State scientists. - Results, Fall, 2011

July 8, 2011 We have lift off!!

NC State Experts Offer Insight On Final Shuttle Launch, Space Experiments, Future Of Space Exploration

WRAL Local News coverage
The space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch July 8. It will be the final mission for NASA's shuttle program. The shuttle will be carrying an experiment into orbit for North Carolina State University researchers. Reporters can contact these NC State experts for more information about the experiment, the role that the shuttle program and the International Space Station has played in scientific research, the history of the shuttle program and the future of space exploration.Space Shuttle Atlantis

Dr. Imara Perera, research assistant professor of plant biology, 919-515-3544 or, is the lead researcher on a plant biology experiment that is being launched with Atlantis. On Earth, plants are critical for humans both as a source of food and for purifying the air and water and therefore they will be a vital component of future long-duration space missions, Perera says. However the space environment is not ideal for plant growth. The goal of our experiment is to understand how plants sense and respond to the space environment, in particular, microgravity. The long-term implications of this work will be to improve plant growth under unfavorable environmental conditions that may exist both here on earth and in space.

Dr. Fred DeJarnette, campus director of North Carolina Space Grant and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, 919-515-5243 or, has extensive experience working with NASA and the shuttle program. DeJarnette is available to talk about the history of the shuttle program and the future of space exploration.

Dr. Chris Brown, Director of North Carolina Space Grant and Associate Vice Chancellor for research development, 919-513-2457 or, has over two decades of experience in space biology research. Brown is a former manager and senior scientist of the Plant Space Biology Lab at the Kennedy Space Center, and can talk about the role that the shuttle program and the International Space Station have played in scientific research.

-Matt Shipman

Summer 2011

Spring 2011

  • Alexander Krings has been elected President of the Society of Herbarium Curators and will serve over the period 2012-2014.
  • Mia Feng has published her third paper in New Phytologist
  • Dr. JoAnn Burkholder's research has linked production hog farms in eastern North Carolina to growing blooms of Heterosigma akashiwo in the Neuse River Estuary. NCSU Results Magazine
  • Dr. Chad Jordan has been chosen to receive an Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award. Only 4 awardees are chosen for this honor by the Senior Class Council which recognizes individuals who further the education of our students through innovative teaching, enthusiasm and dedication.
  • Dr. Marc Johnson won the American Society of Naturalists' "Young Investigator" Prize, which he will accept in June 2010 while attending and presenting a talk at the annual ASN meeting.

  • Plant Biology has two winners in the recent NC State Undergraduate Research Symposium Jameelah Maralyn Henderson Plant Biology Mentor(s): Wendy Boss Plant Biology
    "Bioinformatic Analysis of the Membrane Occupation and Recognition Nexus (MORN) Repeats of Plant PIP5K proteins"
    • Congratulations to Robert Thornhill, recipient of a 2011 Robert R. Bryden Research Grant from the North Carolina Academy of Science.  The grant will support his work on the flora of the savannas at Shaken Creek.
    • Robert Thornhill was recently awarded a Tom and Bruce Shinn Grant for 2011 from the North Carolina Native Plant Society. The award will support Robert's work developing a flora of the species- rich savannas at Shaken Creek.
    • ALS 398H TEAM / Meagan Elizabeth Clark
      Plant Biology
      /Microbiology Mentor(s): Amy Grunden Microbiology, Heike Sederoff, Plant Biology, Marie-Laure Sauer Plant Biology
      "Evaluating Sustainable Biofuel Options: Making a Case for Microalgae
    • Misty Buchanan (M.Sc. 2001; co-chairs: Jon Stucky and Tom Wentworth) has received a National Recovery Champion Award from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  The award will be presented by the Acting Director or the Director of the USFWS at the evening reception with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources conference on March 17, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The award honors Misty's many contributions to plant conservation, in part through her role as the NC Natural Heritage Program state botanist.
    • Dr. Imara Perera hopes to be in the crowd at Kennedy Space Center for the final space shuttle launch as rocket boosters ignite, engines rumble and Atlantis lifts off June 28 with an NC State plant research project on board.
    • Dr. Chad Jordan is the recipent of the NCSU Outstanding Teacher Award from CALS. He will receive the award at an awards luncheon on April 8, 2011
    • Congratulations to all the participants of the Sixth Annual Graduate Student Symposium held Sat. February 26, 2011. 1st place - Nash Turley; 2nd place - Mingzhu Shi ; 3rd place - Kelly Hines.
    • Congratulations to Plant Biology graduate student Lissete Betancur who was recently chosen to receive one of CALS's Outstanding Teaching Awards. Lissete will be presented with a plaque and a check at the Gamma Sigma Delta Banquet, April 13, 2011.
    • April 2010 Congratulations to Plant Biology Undergraduates Emma Lookabaugh and Andrew Mealin who won awards for their poster presentations at the 19th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.  Abstracts and all winners can be found at:

    • Ph.D. student Wade Wall was awarded the Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America's Eugene P. Odum Award for the best ecological paper presented orally by a student.  Wade's paper was entitled "Range stasis during the later Pleistocene for an Atlantic Coastal Plain endemic plant species, Pyxidanthera barbulata".  Wade was the senior author, with co-authors Norman Douglas, Jenny Xiang, William Hoffmann, Thomas Wentworth, Janet Gray, and Matthew Hohmann.

    • Congratulations to Nash Turley on receipt of an NSF Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for his proposal, "Habitat connectivity and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes."

    • M.S. Graduate Student Kelly Hines won the North Carolina Academy of Science Robert R. Bryden Graduate Research Award for her research developing a manual to the flora of Howell Woods, one of the largest protected tracts of land in Johnston County and an active environmental learning center. Her manual seeks to contribute to precision natural resource management, as well as education, at the site.
    • May 2010 Congratulations to M.S. student Kelly Hines for receiving one of two Tom and Bruce Shinn Grants from the North Carolina Native Plant Society for 2010 in support of her research developing a manual to the vascular flora of Howell Woods (Johnston Co.).
    • Emma Lookabaugh, graduating Senior 2010 from the Department of Plant Biology , recently presented the results of her CALS Honors Teaching Project at the NC State University Undergraduate Research Symposium, April 22nd.  She was one of the Emma LookabaughUndergraduate Research Award Winners for that work, recognized at the Sigma Xi Initiation Banquet and Awards Ceremony, April 27th.  She used the JMP Statistical Discovery Software from SAS to complete her data analyses (and to create graphics for her poster) under the guidance of Dr. Consuelo Arellano of the NCSU Department of Statistics.  Her work (and poster) caught the attention of the folks at SAS, who featured Emma on their JMP blog site.  If you would like to be inspired by what our Plant Biology undergraduate students accomplish through the CALS Honors Program, you will enjoy reading Emma's articulate interview on this blog (please scroll down to Thursday, April 29):


    • Ph.D. graduate student, Nash Turley has been awarded an Arthur B. Moss International Travel grant for travel to Costa Rica to participate in "Ecology of Plant-Animal Interactions in the Tropics", a course sponsored by the Organization for Tropical Studies.
      NCSU and NCSSM partnership brings minority high-school students to campus labs for summer research experience- Dr. Sue Carson
    • Lissette Bentancur was awarded best poster at the recent Plant Cell Wall Gordon Conference for her poster: Cellulose synthase gene family expression in Arabidopsis vegetative trichomes. August 2009.
    • Steve Bernacki finished his CoAT (Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching) program.
    • Beth Rueschhoff won first place in the Life Sciences division of the NCSU Graduate Student Symposium March 18, 2009.  Beth's winning poster presentation was accompanied by a cash award.  In addition to Beth, we had outstanding representation for our department with posters by Amanda Saville, Kristen Kostelnik and Sang Yoon Lee. 

    • Sang Yoon Lee has been named a CALS Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant and will receive this award at the Gamma Sigma Delta Banquet April 23, 2008.

    • Mia Feng has won second place for her poster presented at the University Graduate Student Symposium 2008.

    • Replenishing longleaf pines, seed by seed - Wade Wall and Andy Walker
    • Red or Yellow Leaf Color Determined by Soil - Emily Habinck
    • NC's Mountain Bogs Show Amazing Diversity - Brenda Wichmann and Misty Franklin

    The Department of Plant Biology would like to congratulate Dr. Thomas Wentworth who has been recognized as an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor for the years 2003-2005. He will receive an award and certificate at the Honors Baccalaureate and Celebration of Academic Excellence during Spring 2003 Commencement.

    Curator Finds, Names new Species of Climbing Milkweed 
    January 9, 2003 

    Botany Department wins 1999-2000 Departmental Award for Teaching and Learning Excellence
    September 26, 2002

    Research Determines How Plants Tell Which Way Is Up 
    May 12, 2001

    Natural Remedies
    July 26, 2002