Meet the Current Ambassadors

About the Ambassador Program

Past Ambassadors

Ambassador Alliance

The ASPB Ambassador Program is a semi-independent organization within ASPB with oversight by the Membership Committee.  It is  governed by an ad-hoc committee of six comprised of the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Membership Committee (MemCom) Representative, External Communication Coordinator and Outgoing Chair. This group will be called the Ambassador Alliance. Each position will last for one year.

Asia Hightower

Asia Hightower

Chair Wayne State University
Janeen Braynen

Janeen Braynen

Vice Chair Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Aleah Henderson<br />-Carter

Aleah Henderson

Secretary University of Kansas
Andrew Foudree

Andrew Foudree

Membership Committee Representative Corteva
Charles Hodgens

Charles Hodgens

External Communication Coordinator University of Tennessee

Undergraduate and Graduate Ambassadors

University of Florida

Adenike OyekunleI am a master’s student at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. I am currently studying in the center for genomics and biotechnology under the supervision of Dr Yuan Qin. She’s using functional genomics and molecular biology techniques to study the roles of some genes in abiotic stress response in rice and pineapple.

Prior studying at FAFU, I worked for a few years in the agricultural service sector in my home country Nigeria after graduating with a Bachelor degree in general Agriculture. I envisages developing more skills in phenomics and computational biology in the next phase of her study. I also have passion for educational development and food security particularly in developing countries. I joined ASPB in order to learn more about the plant biology community and through communication of the importance of plant biology to young girls in Nigeria and Africa I hope to contribute to the broad vision of ASPB. In February 2019 I was selected as an ASPB ambassador.

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Shakeel Ahmad

I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant breeding and genetics from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (Pakistan). During my master, I worked in the laboratory of Prof. Asif Ali Khan where I checked the resistance status of field collected Helicoverpa armigera against different accessions of Bt cotton cultivated in Pakistan under the supervision of Prof. Asif and Dr. Masooma. To fulfill the research thirst in plant biology, I continued my studies and joined Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing in September, 2017 for doctoral studies. Currently, I’m working on rice blast disease in Prof. Hu Peisong’s Lab with the aim and hope to develop blast resistant rice lines with high grain quality using CRISPR/Cas9 system.

Besides research, in my spare time, I love blogging, utilize social media platforms to interact with fellows to get know-how about the things happening around and hang-out with friends. I’m excited being an ASPB Ambassador and I hope to experience this unique opportunity to spread the good work of APSB. I’m looking forward to meeting with professionals working in the field of plant biology so that the interaction and learning will harness benefits for the society!

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My name is Israel, and I am from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, USA. I am doing research in plant development by examining components of the auxin signaling pathway. I intend to do outreach with children of all ages to show them the beauty that comes with doing molecular work. I also intend to contribute blog posts to ASPB Plant Science Today and contribute to ASPB News as well. Here is a fun fact: I have taken up the study of the Latin language during my free time. I hope to be able to read the Latin version of Winnie the Pooh by the end of this year and make progress on the Aeneid. I am also learning Tagalog and Greek!

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Plant Biology Graduate Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. My research in the lab of Prof. Elsbeth Walker focuses on understanding the mechanisms behind shoot-to-root iron signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana. In the lab, I use a combination of molecular and bioinformatic approaches to investigate these mechanisms. Before UMass, I had worked with Prof. Iris Finkemeier at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Cologne, Germany for my master’s degree. As a young scientist interested in open-access publishing, I had my first advocacy opportunity as an eLife Ambassador in 2018. I was involved in an initiative to increase the visibility and quality of preprints. To support this initiative, we had incorporated preprints into our journal club series at UMass in 2018 and as a result we have published our reviews on PREreview, a preprint review platform.

The inauguration of Plant Direct and its strong promotion of preprints as part of the manuscript submission process have made preprints a part of ASPB’s message. As an ASPB ambassador, I am planning to focus my efforts on increasing awareness for preprints and help ASPB to strengthen its message on a fair and transparent peer review process.

My name is Max Barnhart, I am a 4th year PhD Candidate at the University of Georgia studying the impacts of heat stress on sunflower reproduction. In addition to my research, I am also extremely passionate about science communication and was awarded an ASPB BLOOME Grant in 2020 to print and publish science zines in Athens, GA through the Athens Science Observer, a scicomm organization run by myself and fellow UGA graduate students. In my free time I do TaeKwonDo and Yoga in addition to spending time hanging out with friends and reading.

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I am currently working as Project Assistant in Professor Sandhya S Visweswariah’s laboratory at the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics at Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India. I finished my Bachelors of Engineering in Biotechnology from Sir M Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, Bangalore. I am interested in researching medicinal plants and identifying potential pharmaceutical compounds in my future study.

I am very excited to be a part of ASPB, hoping to meet motivated people in plant biology. I would love to network and learn from all of them about their research and passion for plants.

I am thrilled to use this wonderful opportunity to broaden the visions of ASPB.

This is Tugce Celayir! I am a research scholar in UC Davis Entomology and Nematology. Also, I am currently a M.Sc. student and PhD candidate. My research interest is plant space biology. My dream is improving the quality of spaceflights and helping people to reach Mars. Now, I am investigating plant-pathogen interactions. Before, I had experience with abiotic stress factors too. I choose to improve my knowledge on plant stress biology because in space the most important obstacle for plants is stress originating from space conditions itself. For my point of view, reaching more people and teaching science to inspire them has significant importance. My outreach strategy is using both social media tools and science platforms such as ASPB. In order to ensure better outreach, collaboration and teamwork are necessary. Finally, perhaps, I will prepare samples that will visit space, and this is just the beginning. I always will continue to dream and achieve. Who knows? Maybe one day, Tugce Celayir can visit space in order to study on her own samples.

My name is Aishee De, I’ve done my doctoral research in Plant biology from Bose Institute, India. I’ve always been fascinated and excited to know about plants. However, it was during my pre-doctoral days that I developed a deeper interest in them and eventually started working at both genetic and molecular level. In my recent research, I have worked extensively on investigating the early signalling events associated with perception of pathogens by membrane receptors. My work was aimed at improving crop production and reducing dependence on fungicides. Apart from being an active researcher, I’m also a passionate science communicator; I have always made a conscious effort to communicate my work to a wider audience by publishing papers and presenting them at various national and international forums.

Outside of research, I always look for opportunities where I can make a positive difference in the society. Recently, I have volunteered for a non-profit organization based in Cameroon, where I helped them spread awareness on environmental and societal issues. I’m also someone who thrives in diverse multicultural environments. I love to connect with people around the world, learn about their country and culture, so much so that now I can fluently speak and understand four different languages. If you see a new ASPB ambassador who’s a super active researcher by the day, a passionate social worker by the night, and survives on intermittent power naps in between well then, that’s pretty much me!

I am Aditi Dwivedi, a final year graduate student at National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, India. I am fascinated with plant developmental responses under changing environmental conditions. I got curious and developed interest in environmental signalling in plants during my Master’s dissertation at National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India. My PhD work primarily focusses on comparative investigation of plant transcriptional and developmental changes under changing light and temperature conditions in phylogenetically different plant species using transcriptomics. Leads from my PhD research will be instrumental to develop climate smart plants in future. Further, my academic career would be directed in deciphering the biochemical and developmental response of plants towards changing environmental conditions integrating multi-omics approach at single cell level. Other than research, I like teaching and mentoring. I taught Molecular biology and molecular genetics to bachelor’s and Master’s students. Heading and organizing educational and cultural events as a college captain during my early days has given me confidence to be a part of such programmes. In 2020, I was part of the Plantae Webinar Series ‘ Evo-devo as a discovery tool ’. As an ASPB ambassador, I aim to motivate young students to get excited about plant science. I am fascinated to interview the established leaders in the field of plant science for the articles in ASPB News as such interactions would instill confidence that would inspire me for furthering my career in plant science research and communication.

Andrew Egesa

Andrew is a PhD student at the University of Florida in the Environmental Horticulture Department. He has a broad interest in plant science research, especially on signaling in plant development and the interaction of developmental and environmental signals on growth and performance. He is also interested in applying plant science knowledge and skills in crop improvement and biopharming.

New email:

My name is Maria Clara and I am a master’s student at the University of Arkansas, in the Crop Soil and Environmental Science department. In my current research, I am using phenotyping and transcriptomic analysis to understand the functions of SnRK1 signaling in rice plants.

One of my outreaches interests is to encourage young people to pursue careers as scientists. For example, through social media, I created a mentorship group that I helped young Brazilians get into U.S and Canadian colleges to do internships or graduate studies in science fields. In my free time, I like to go hiking, swimming, playing volleyball, and reading fiction books. A fun fact about myself is that I grew up on a farm in Brazil and this made me very interested in plant science.

Univeristy of Arkansas

I am a PhD student studying Plant Biology with a specialization in Predictive Plant Phenomics, at Iowa State University in Dr. Justin Walley’s lab. My work focuses on the role of post translational modifications (primarily acetylation) in plant-pathogen interactions. I grew up in Florida and first became interested in plant science in my undergraduate years at Florida State University where I worked in a maize genetics lab. At Iowa State, I am the president of the Graduate Student Organization of Plant Biologists and a Graduate Student Senate Representative for Plant Pathology and Microbiology. Outside of the lab, I enjoy working out, hanging out with friends and playing board games. As an ambassador, I hope to spread the message and the brand of ASPB.

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I am a recent graduate of the University of California San Diego, currently working outside of plant biology, but applying to plant biology graduate programs for Fall 2022. During my undergrad, I spent 4 wonderful years in the Huffaker lab studying plant innate immunity.

I worked on several projects during this time, including investigation of a transcription factor which was found to modulate plant defense responses in a phosphorylation dependent manner. Another project identified a receptor for the inceptin elicitor of plant defense, which originates from herbivory events in beans. My most recent project was characterizing a novel family of defense signaling peptides in multiple species of the bean family, as well as characterizing the putative receptors in their respective plant systems. I was a 2018 SURF awardee for this project and presented my results at the Plant Biology conference in San Jose in 2019.

I am very excited to be able to spread knowledge of plant sciences as an ASPB ambassador and get to know the other ambassadors as well.

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Aleah is a doctoral candidate in the University of Kansas Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) department. Aleah received her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biology from Dillard University (an HBCU in New Orleans, LA). She has maintained membership in the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) since 2017. Aleah is broadly interested in plant biology and had the opportunity to be a participant in the 2017 Frontiers and Techniques in Plant Science course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, New York, USA as well as the ASPB Conviron Scholar’s program in 2020. In addition to her research, Aleah is very passionate about scientific communication, outreach, and increasing participation and retention of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. She is a founding member of Jayhawks Breaking Barriers ( This program was funded through a CAP grant by the American Association for University Women (AAUW). As a co-author and JBB leadership team member, Aleah organized workshops and panels to raise awareness of the gender leadership gap in STEM fields. Now that the program has evolved into a course for undergraduate students, Aleah works with the JBB Research Committee to assess the efficacy of the course objectives on encouraging upward mobility in STEM among underrepresented groups. As a newly inducted member of the ASPB Ambassadors, Aleah looks forward to participating in more initiatives dedicated to furthering the ASPB mission and communicating science to other plant biologists and the broader public.

Asia HightowerHi, my name is Asia Hightower I am currently an MS student at Wayne State University. I am interested in the genetic regulation of morphology in dioecious plant species. I love dogs and critiquing films.

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I am going to be starting a PhD program in Fall 2020 and will be studying plant molecular biology. I am most interested in studying gene regulation and epigenetics. My undergraduate experience in Dr. Judy Brusslan’s lab involved studying the transcriptional regulation of leaf senescence and how different developmental events trigger leaf senescence-related signaling in Arabidopsis. I interned with Dr. Alison DeLong to study the role a particular phosphatase plays in regulating Arabidopsis plant size. I am learning piano and American Sign Language (ASL), and I want to eventually become a certified ASL interpreter.  As an ASPB scholar I wrote an article and developed public friendly infographics about GMO safety, and as an Ambassador I intend to continue expanding my scicomm skills to help increase the visibility of plant biology in society

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Aldous N. Hofmann – Aldous is fine

University of Maine

Vaccinium a. anatomical variation, physiological variation, effects of nanocellulose treatments

I love communicating science to farmers and the general public. I can over 100 quarts of food from my personal garden each year. I am a former chef and current motorcycle rider.

Aldous Hofmann resides at the University of Maine where, when not riding his motorcycle, attending Lodge, or gardening, he can be found sharing the intense variation observed in Maine Wild Blueberries with the community and farmers.

I am from Charlotte, North Carolina and received my B.S. in Biology from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee in 2017. While in my undergraduate degree, I became highly interested in plant biology. During that time, I worked as research technician with USDA at North Carolina State University on a project examining elevated ozone response in soybean. I also served as the garden overseer in an environmental science club at my undergraduate institution where I taught club members how to raise vegetables.  These combined experiences sparked my interest in plant physiology and nutrition. I followed these interests into graduate school where I got into the lab of Dr. Marinus Pilon. Additionally, I obtained an internship position with Dr. Sean Gleason at the USDA-ARS in Ft. Collins, CO while in graduate school. In this position, I have worked on a broad array of projects investigating drought tolerance traits in crops.

I am currently in the 5th year of my PhD program researching copper transport in poplar and examining the effects of copper deficiency on poplar ultrastructure. I take a broad and integrative approach to my research influenced by my dual roles at the USDA and CSU. I became a member of ASPB in 2020 and was accepted into the Ambassador program in the spring of 2021. I presented my first national conference poster at Plant Biology 2021 on copper transport in poplar. My career goals include a long-standing interest in agriculture research in government or industry. I look forward to severing as an ASPB Ambassador both now and in the future to help shape the future of plant biology.

Katy McIntyreI was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee but moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry with two minors in Molecular Biology and Business Administration from Colorado State University in 2016. During my undergraduate studies, I had little to no experience in plant biology until I received an undergraduate research position Dr. Cris Argueso’s lab where I became fully immersed in plant hormonal signaling involved in plant defense. After I graduated, I received a short term post-baccalaureate research position in Todd Gaines lab where I worked on a TILLING by sequencing project in Sorghum bicolor. I chose to return to Dr. Argueso’s lab for graduate school where I am currently finishing the second year of my PhD program in Cell and Molecular Biology in the Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management department where my research pertains to hormonal crosstalk chromatin remodeling involved in plant defense in Arabidopsis thaliana.

During my first year in graduate school, I was delighted to be a part of the American Society of Plant Biologist’s Ambassador program. Within the last year, I have participated in a few volunteer outreach activities as an ASPB Ambassador in northern Colorado. One of these activities included participating in a STEM night at Shepardson Elementary School in Fort Collins. During this event, I teamed up with four other plant biologists to set up different booths highlighting different areas within plant biology including: plant diseases, where our food comes from, and how photosynthesis works. I also volunteered at Colorado State University’s Agriculture Day I discussed plant pathogens with middle schoolers visiting the campus. During this event, I showed common plant diseases on both fruits and vegetables, and also had an interactive activity displaying the varying ways plant bacteria are able to spread from plant to plant and from farm to farm. This year I also have made an effort to attend and participate in multiple ASPB Skype meetings. This past Spring, I attended the ASPB Membership Committee Meeting where different members of the ASPB community discussed how to increase overall membership, improve the ASPB Ambassador program, hear reports from different regional sections, and plan activities for Plant Biology 2017.

Other than Ambassador activities, I was awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship through the National Science Foundation, Cell and Molecular Biology Program Fellowship, and my university’s departmental Outstanding Pathologist Scholarship. I also have been an elected member of my graduate program’s Student Association for three years where I have served as Secretary, Vice President and now President. I also have served as an elected member of my department’s Student Committee.

I’m looking forward to representing ASPB as an Ambassador in 2018. I plan on attending the annual Plant Biology meeting in Montreal where I will be able to meet fellow ASPB members as well as other Ambassadors. I also want to become a member of the future governing body of Ambassadors. I have recently shifted my career goals to include being highly involved with governmental policy pertaining to agriculture because I believe there is a huge gap in proper communication between plant biologists, the farming community, and the government. As a graduate student in academia, it’s become apparent to me that my academic requirements will not prepare me for a life involved in government. Therefore, becoming involved in an ASPB Ambassador governing committee will be a great opportunity for me to learn and gain experience.

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I am Jitendra, a PhD scholar at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, India. Currently, I am working in the area of genomics assisted crop improvement in Dr. Swarup K. Parida’s Lab. I am very happy to be selected as an ASPB ambassador. My current research focuses on deciphering the complex genetic architecture of abiotic stress tolerance in chickpea. I am also interested in understanding the impact of natural selection and domestication on shaping these traits in cultivated and wild Chickpea genepool.

I have always been in a quest to understand and unfold the fascinating mystery of science. While growing as a researcher, I realized that the ideas and technicality of advanced scientific approaches are scattered and limited to a particular group of people due to several barriers at the communication, technology and infrastructure level. Further, the deeply technical nature of the research work makes it difficult to explain its importance in a way that people without any technical background can understand.

As a research fellow, my science communication is more focused on publishing articles, displaying posters, writing scientific proposals and presenting at the conference. Apart from these technical forms of communication, I would like to explore the institutional as well as the global platform with more involvement and dialogues like group discussion and brainstorming sessions to exchange our ideas further.

I love to watch movies, travel to different areas to explore the local cuisine, and meet diverse people and their cultures in my free time. I am a low maintenance guy; good food & closeness to nature is all I need for a perfect day.

University of Missouri


Hello, my name is Deisiany Neres. I am a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg Virginia. My research interests are in using synthetic biology to study plant resistance. I am also interested in bioinformatics and transcriptomics.

My bachelor’s degree is in Forest Engineering, and since my second semester as an undergraduate student I found myself interested in plant genetics. I have worked with genetics population in Annona crassiflora trees, African Mahogany improvement, and intern for 9 months in a biotech company that works in finding resistance to eucalyptus.

As a first-generation student I am super excited about making science interesting to the generations to come, as well as building new connections through public relations.

A fun fact about me is that I can walk on my hands and do some “risky” yoga poses without never being a practitioner. I am super excited about being part of this team and I hope to learn and contribute a lot to the ASPB community.

Monica Perri

The same way street art has the power to inspire random people walking through the city, I believe that organizing outreaching activities is an indispensable way to bring science in the everyday life. I am a first DPhil student in Interdisciplinary Biosciences at the University of Oxford. I take great pride in reaching the goal in everything I do, both inside and outside the academic environment. Before arriving to Oxford, I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree at the University of Pisa (Italy). During these years, I have been working with different model organisms, from animal models to bacteriophages, and finally found my passion in plant molecular biotechnology and synthetic biology. For my DPhil research, I am currently focusing on plant responses to abiotic stress, specifically investigating the evolution of low-oxygen sensing in early land plants.

As a graduate student, I found that organizing scientific communication activities can be beneficial not only to the audience, but it can help the scientist to improve communication skills and more importantly develop a fresh perspective. The way plants can interact with other organisms, their ability to recognize and respond to many stress factors and adapt the environment they live in, it never ceases to amaze me. As an ASPB Ambassador, my goal is to share my passion and stimulate people’s curiosity – also, I can’t take down a challenge to reinvent myself!

Dartmouth College

Shawna RoweI am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Plant Biology at Michigan State University in the laboratory of Dr. Yair Shachar-Hill. My research interests center around the fantastic world of symbiotic interactions between plants and microbes. Specifically, I focus on developing an improved understanding of nutrient exchange between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). During my graduate career, I have served as Vice President of the Graduate Employees’ Union and worked to help improve working conditions and community for graduate students across campus. I’m excited to work as an ASPB ambassador to help continue building a stronger community of diverse and inclusive plant scientists and spread the good word about all of the wonderful plant science research happening around the world!

Contact me!

Armaan Sandhu

South Dakota State University, SD, USA

RESEARCH INTERESTS- My goal is to serve humanity with new and environmentally safe agricultural products. I am ambitious to research and innovate in field of plant microbiology and uncover new knowledge.

Symbiotic relation of rhizobia and legume is initiated by attachment of bacteria to the root and attachment involves interaction between root and bacterial surface, indicating that surface properties of rhizobia play a considerable role but still remains unexplored.

I am interested in:

  • Understanding role of the surface and attachment related properties of Bradyrhizobium in soil environment.
  • Exploring effect of soy root exudates on attachment-associated phenotypic properties of Bradyrhizobium USDA 110.
  • Understanding chemical signals involved in promoting the competition of the strain Bradyrhizobium USDA 110.

OUTREACH INTERESTS- For me outreach is to build bridges between scientists of different disciplines and public to make science more exciting. Effective outreach has 3 elements: Clear goal, knowing audience and appropriate source. At this platform following could be good ways of outreach:

  • Online seminar series can be initiated where experienced scientists in academia/industry can share upcoming research opportunities.
  • Advertise research by Graduate student chapter and Newsletter with all the updates constantly.

FUN FACT- Enjoy interacting with people from different backgrounds and can show moves on any of the music forms.

KNOW ME- I am very driven, optimistic, and hard-working person, just not from work perspective but in life. I love to be around animals and nature.

Hi, all! My name is Thayssa, and I am a final year doctoral researcher in Dr. Anton Schäffner’s group at Helmholtz Zentrum München (Germany). Since my Bachelor’s studies, I have been working with plant science, and I have a keen interest in studying plant responses to environmental changes. During my doctoral study, I investigated how aquaporins affect lateral root development in well-nurtured plants and response to nutrient and osmotic stresses.

My professional goal is to have my research group in South America. As a German/ Brazilian citizen, married to a Colombian, and who has lived in the three countries, I want to keep the collaborations I have made during my doctoral study to increase the scientific opportunities between Europe and South America.

I have always been interested in science communication. During my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies in Brazil, I organized science fairs in schools and annual meetings of biology students that aims to promote sports and networking among sixteen Brazilian universities. In Germany, I was an elected student representative of the doctoral researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München, and I had the chance to improve the working conditions and networking opportunities for doctoral researchers at the campus.

I am excited to be part of the Ambassador Program because I will increase my science outreach skills, networking, and learn a lot with the ASPB’s community. I am looking forward to meeting you all!

Hannah Rae Thomas is a 5th year Plant Biology PhD Candidate and USDA Predoctoral Research Fellow at Cornell University, where she studies intercellular communication and graft compatibility in vegetable crops. Hannah is passionate about science policy. Her policy interests include climate change, food security, and genetically modified crops. As a graduate student, she has advocated for research-related legislation, and as the Advancing Science and Policy Cornell Federal Relations Liasion, has organized a workshop series on policy pitch building.

She is a devoted science communicator. She works to communicate research and promote science literacy among diverse backgrounds: children, corporations, politicians, and more. She has designed and distributed thousands of K-12 plant science kits, organized international science communication workshops, and acts as an associated editor for an international journal. Her most recent outreach work has included leading over 200 plant science workshops to adult groups from corporations such as Google, LinkedIn, and Starbucks. In her free time, Hannah enjoys swimming and playing with her corgi, Tater Tot.

Lucas Vanhaelewyn

Lucas Vanhaelewyn is a Belgian PhD candidate at Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium). His doctoral research is about the effects of UV-B radiation on plants from fundamentals to applications. Lucas is passionate about knowledge sharing and science communication, he has organized several outreach events as an ASPB ambassador, reaching thousands of people (e.g. the Light festival in Belgium and student outreach in Vietnam). In this spirit, Lucas also joined ASPB-ARN, where he will try to actively promote inclusivity and multi-stakeholder engagement by connecting scientists from emerging economies with an internationally recognized strong science network – such as ASPB. Apart from his research interests, he is heavily involved in Pro Bono and entrepreneurial development work in Uganda, Nigeria and Vietnam. Recently he is a voluntary consultant in Team investment of Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs, a director of Ssemu Agrotech Consultants Ltd (Uganda) and a co-founder of The Mobile Plant Clinic (Nigeria). Follow his activities on Twitter: @Lucas_Muzungu_

My name is Amina Yaqoob and I am a Research officer at Plant Biotechnology lab, Center of Excellence in Molecular Biology (CEMB), University of the Punjab, Pakistan. My research focuses are development of transgenic plants with improved traits and their biosafety studies. My PhD research work was based on cotton transformation for improved fiber quality. I am serving as the secretary-Ambassadors Alliance program (2020-2021). I joined the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) in December 2017 and served as an ASPB ambassador (2018-2020). I love to get involved in different extracurricular activities, scientific writing, outreach programs, social media and public communication. I have also been mentoring planting science sessions for the last two years. In the past, I served at American Society of Microbiology (ASM), Gulls association and Pakistan Biological Safety Association (PBSA) as facilitator and mentor.

My role as secretary – ambassador alliance is to strengthen the coordination between the Alliance and ambassadors. I shall be mentoring the ambassadors on different ideas and encouraging them for valuable activities. I believe that a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.

Approach me at:

Twitter: @AminaYaqoob

Postdoc Ambassadors

Anne-Sophie BohrerAnne-Sophie Bohrer is a senior research associate at Michigan State University (MSU) in the Takahashi lab. Her initial work focused on the study of sulfur metabolism in Arabidopsis, with an emphasis on understanding the regulation mechanisms of sulfate uptake and sulfate assimilation in the cytosol and the chloroplasts.

Anne-Sophie is now continuing her postdoc in the Great lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) at MSU and is involved in the project that aims at developing a sustainable production of bioenergy crops by leveraging plant and microbiome traits to promote productivity on marginal lands. Specifically, Anne-Sophie is conducting the metabolite profiling of switchgrass under various stress to identify key factors that promote growth and survival of switchgrass in North America.

Anne-Sophie graduated in 2012 with her PhD in plant biochemistry and molecular biology from the University Paris-Sud (France).

Twitter: @AnsoBohrer

Louis Pasteur once said, “Science know no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch  which  illuminates  the  world”.  With this torch  I  plan  to  help  with  the diversification, incursion and contribute of science to a wider audience. This quote always stood out to me; as Ijourney towards my goal to become a better scientist. My name is Janeen Braynen and I’ve obtained my doctorate degree at Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China. As  a  Ph.D.  student  my  primarily  focus  was  to  understand  alteration  occurring  during reproduction and flowering time in diploid, haploid and polyploid Brassica rapa using various  omics techniques.  Currently, my research focus on understanding gene regulatory networks which control nutrient used efficiencies in crop plants. Apart from my research endeavors, I am passionate about teaching and communicating science to non-scientist and young future scientist. Prior, to my post doctorate studies, I volunteer extensively in undergraduate classes, in my country, to discuss my journey in science and the impact science research can have on societies. In addition to this all, I am individual who love to serve my community by volunteer my  time  to  tutor  elementary  and  high  school  students. Also, I  enjoy  being  a  part  of organizations that serve, help, and is committed to uplifting children and young adults within local communities. Moreover, my hobbies include baking and practicing yoga.

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at Noble Research Institute in Oklahoma. I work with Professor Elison Blancaflor to dissect the transcriptomic changes that occur in root columella cells when they are gravistimulated using RNA-Seq and laser capture microdissection techniques. Prior to my postdoctoral fellowship, I completed my PhD dissertation with Professor Ulrike Mathesius in Australian National University on elucidating how flavonoids protect plants from root-knot nematode infection. I am excited to work as an ASPB ambassador to work on issues pertaining early career researchers provide a community support to other postdocs and graduate students particularly on issues pertaining mental health awareness and job sustainability. Additionally, I hope to encourage scientific participation in local schools by anchoring on ASPB’s education and outreach programs.

My Plantae profile is as following:

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Donald Danforth Plant Science in St. Louis, Missouri in Dr. Blake’s Meyers’ Lab. My research is focused on studying the transcriptional activities occurring in plant-microbes interactions at a single-cellular level. By pinpointing where in the plant specific genes are active, I hope I’m able to determine how plant cells and microbes communicate and discover novel ways to improve crop yields.

For my educational background, I went to University of Missouri-St. Louis to major in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. After graduating in 2013, I enrolled into graduate school at Texas A&M University to study the molecular mechanisms of a disease on cotton called Bacterial Blight of Cotton in Dr. Libo Shan’s lab. In 2018, I received my PhD in Plant Pathology and started my post-doc at the Danforth Center in January 2019 where I still reside today as a HHMI Hanna Gray Fellow. Outside the lab, I also participate in various outreach activities such as speaking and giving science lessons at primary schools in the St. Louis region.

As an ASPB ambassador, I’m excited to work with ASPB and the other ambassadors on communicating science to other scientists and the general public. One of the ways I intend to do this is making short videos on my YouTube Channel that discusses a variety of science topics in a manner that’s understandable to the general public. Additionally, I am eager to help recruit other early career scientists to become members in the ASPB society. The great community of ASPB has provided opportunities for me to network and grow as a scientist and I would like all scientists to also receive that as well.

Contact me at

Virginia Tech

Name and preferred/nickname: Vishnu Mishra

Institution: National Institute of Plant Genome research (NIPGR), New Delhi, India.

Research Interests: miRNAs, plant development and molecular biology.

Outreach Interests: I am interested in all the topics related to outreach, science communication and popularization.

A fun fact about yourself: I like to play cricket and hanging out with my friends, and stuff like that.

Anything else you want people to know about you: Yes, if I was not in research, would have been in an intelligence agency and would have served my country.

Introduction: Myself, Vishnu Mishra and currently working at National Institute of Plant Genome research (NIPGR) under Prof. Ananda K. Sarkar. I have completed my Ph.D. work at NIPGR, New Delhi, India. My Ph.D. research involves the detailed expression analysis of miRNA(s) and targets in Arabidopsis and the functional characterization of miRNA(s) and targets for possible role in shoot or root development. Apart from research, I like to play cricket and hanging out with my friends, and stuff like that. I am interested in all the topics related to outreach, science communication and popularization. Yes, one important thing to know about me is that if I was not in research, would have been in an intelligence agency and would have served for country.

Twitter: @VishnuM02351183

I am Prachi Pandey, a Postdoctoral Researcher working at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, India. My research focuses on understanding mechanisms of stress tolerance in plants. Currently, I am trying to understand the effect of the combination of biotic and abiotic stresses on chickpeas. Working with an enthusiastic team at NIPGR, I am exploring how drought can influence chickpea’s defense against foliar and root pathogens. We observe the plants in the fields and study their defense systems in the lab using various physiological and molecular tools and techniques. Being a molecular biologist by training and persevering to become a plant physiologist, I enjoy discussions on molecular and physiological aspects of plant defense mechanisms. At present, I am involved in research outreach activities. However, I intend to participate in educational outreach more frequently since I find talking to kids about the mysteries of plants intriguing.

I owe my newly evolved ability to keep finding and giving answers to my four-year-old child, who motivates me to step onto unchartered territories almost every day. Outside lab, I enjoy spending time with my little kid, reading books, and singing nursery rhymes together. I love exploring new avenues with him every day. We are scientists growing together!

Hello! My name is Elena Pelech, and I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. My research interests involve ecological and technological methods to increase crop productivity sustainably. During my PhD, I studied the ecophysiological complexities of maize and soybean intercropping systems. I took many physiological measurements used to parametrize a three-dimensional plant simulation model. I am currently exploring the natural variation of mesophyll conductance during photosynthetic induction in wild soybean relatives for the RIPE project (realizing increased photosynthetic efficiency). My outreaches interests involve working with first-generation university students from working-class families. I also wish to support Ukrainian scientists, my late grandfather from Ukraine was a refugee during WW2. I am originally from the UK, and I enjoy hiking, gardening, travelling, and reading about mythology/history. Also, I am currently incubating 39 chicken eggs and 5 duck eggs (aka operation dinosaur), due to hatch in about 3 weeks!!

Maria-Angelica Sanclemente is a postdoctoral researcher in the biology department at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. She holds an MS degree in Horticultural Sciences from the University of Florida and a PhD in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology from the same institution. At UF, Angelica studied physiological and genetic implications of sugar and oxygen availability on development of crop plants. Her current research focuses on identifying molecular basis of plant recovery after submergence. Angelica is Colombian-American and has great interest in science communication, outreach, and mentoring. She has been an ambassador for the American Society of Plant Biology (ASPB) since 2018, and volunteers as a lecturer and science judge for the Alachua County school system in Florida since 2013.

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My name is Simon and I am new ambassador. I am very happy to be part of this group of people with such enthusiasm for science. I feel like this is a nice opportunity to meet with like-minded people and add some excitement to the plant biology community.

I am working as a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University in Belgium. Here, I have been able to pursue my interest in metabolic engineering, as I have been working on biofortification, thereby increasing the nutritional value of crops. I love doing both fundamental as well as more applied research.

I aim to utilize this opportunity to communicate science to a more general audience as I believe this is an indispensable part of our scientific duties, but also something I enjoy very much. I hope I will be able to boost the curiosity of the general public towards scientific topics.

I love the outdoors, going hiking or enjoying the exotic plants I’m try to maintain in my garden. I consider myself as very passionate and look forward to this experience as an ASPB ambassador.

Jithesh Vijayan

I am a postdoctoral scholar in the Dept. of Biochemistry at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I work with Dr. Rebecca Roston. I am a plant and algal physiologist with an interest in signaling, stress and nutrient availability. Currently I am working towards understanding the mechanism of action of an archaeal antioxidant that is able to increase the biomass yield/ productivity in a variety of plants species such as Arabidopsis, soy bean, tobacco and basil. For my doctoral dissertation, I studied the role of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Target of Rapamycin (TOR) in microalgal metabolism under nitrogen starvation.

I have been a member of ASPB since 2015 and an ambassador since 2018. I am interested in outreach activities and SciCom, and participate in a variety of events targeted to non-science audience. I am currently serving as an ECR rep on the program committee (2021/22). In this role I hope to augment the program of the PlantBio2022 to better serve the ECR community.


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My name is Hana Zand Karimi. Currently, I am working as a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University in St. louis. I got my Ph.D. from Indiana University working on plant extracellular RNAs. I have been working on extracellular communication, especially the role of extracellular RNAs in plant-pathogen interaction. Currently, I am working on the autophagy-related pathway in both Arabidopsis and Saccharomyces. I got interested in the ASPB ambassador program because I believe in the power of scientific communication. I am interested in outreach programs, especially those that provide simplified scientific information for kids and the public audience. Outside the lab, you can find me in my kitchen or small garden in my backyard. I love baking, painting, and crafting. I enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, biking, and skiing. My current challenge is to maintain work-life balance in my life 🙂

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of California, San Diego. In Jazz Dickinson’s lab, I focus on small metabolites that regulate root development and growth in Arabidopsis, maize and tomato. I received my Ph.D. from Huazhong Agriculture University (Wuhan, China). My dissertation work focused on TAA-YUC-mediated auxin synthesis and CRISPR/CAS9 technology in rice. I am excited to work with other scientists as an ASPB ambassador and contribute to improving the field of plant research.

Professional/Industry Ambassadors

Hello everyone, I am a research associate in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I received my Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville under the guidance of Dr. Brad M. Binder, where I had worked on the contrasting roles of ethylene receptors ETR1 and ETR2 in the regulation of seed germination under different abiotic stress responses in the model plant system Arabidopsis thaliana. Currently, in Dr. Simon Gilroy’s lab at UW-Madison, I am working on several projects where I am looking into the role of calcium signaling and its components in the regulation of flooding and low-oxygen stress responses in plants under earth-based as well as outer space microgravity-based environments. Till date, I have worked on different plant systems ranging from the model plant Arabidopsis to other species such as tobacco, cotton, and tomato. Beyond doing research in the laboratory, I love teaching science. I had been a lecturer in the University of Calcutta back in India after completing my master’s program and had also taught multiple semesters during my graduate school and at UW-Madison. Apart from research, I really enjoy doing martial arts, acting in plays and showcasing Indian culture in the form of dance or songs in different cultural events. If you are curious to know how plants behave and grow in space, please feel free to contact me in my email id:

I am a Plant Physiology Scientist II with Bayer Crop Science in the Biologics Corn and Soy Crop Efficiency team. My work is focused on evaluating candidate microbes that can sustainably contribute to nitrogen nutrition in corn and soy and advancing strong candidates for product development.

Prior to this, I earned a B.Sci. in Plant Science and Biology from Utah State University and then completed a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. While conducting doctoral research on the molecular mechanisms that control the formation of symbiotic associations between poplar trees and mycorrhizal fungi, I received a 3-year NSF graduate research fellowship. After graduating, I continued my research on beneficial plant-microbe interactions as a postdoctoral research associate at South Dakota State University. For three years, I studied legume tripartite interactions with both arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and the nitrogen fixing bacteria rhizobia. I then transitioned to Oak Ridge National Lab for one year and characterized the plant developmental, metabolic, and signaling pathways underlying the mediation of beneficial plant-microbe interactions in Populus.

Check out my publications on Google Scholar:

Beyond research, I enjoy gardening, mountain biking, and chess. I also love engaging in scientific outreach. Most notably, I developed and deployed a plant science merit badge workshop at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with the help of 15 graduate student volunteers that I recruited and trained each year. Together, over four years, we helped nearly 200 scouts not only earn the plant science merit badge but develop a genuine interest in the plant sciences. My goal is to help establish similar workshops elsewhere to help plant scientists engage meaningfully with youth and motivate them to pursue a career in plant science.

Please reach out to me if you are interested!

Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@KevinCope18) or on LinkedIn (

Andrew FoudreeMy background in Plant Science started at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. I have lived in Iowa for several years and enjoy biking, hunting, and spending time outdoors. I currently work at Corteva Agriscience within the Trait Discovery group. As part of a team, I work to develop, evaluate, and advance new trait leads into our pipeline. A specific part of my role involves evaluation and tracking of new transgenic and edited mutation events. By joining the ASPB Ambassadors program, I hope to be part of their mission to promote ASPB through networking and development of leadership in science.

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My journey in the field of plant genetics started in India, where I did my Master’s in the field of plant breeding and genetics. I did my PhD at Washington State University, where I worked on understanding the evolution of chromosome pairing control in wheat. I have recently joined as a research scientist, where I am working to develop a targeted method of alien gene transfer. By joining ASPB’s ambassador’s program, I hope to play my role in ASPB’s mission. I hope to further develop my professional network and improve my leadership skills. I strongly feel that communication and training play a critical role in improvement in any field of science, so I will do my best to promote ASPB’s long-term goals and engage next generation of plant scientists.

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My roots are in the northern state of India, Punjab (Land of Five Rivers). Currently, I am pursuing a doctorate in Plant Breeding & Genetics under the joint advisement of Prof. Paul Staswick and Prof. Harkamal Walia at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. My research work focuses on finding the mode of action and underlying molecular mechanisms behind the activity of a newly registered tertiary amine plant growth regulator, BMVE. BMVE is a compound patented by a seed company of Nebraska, ‘Kamterter’. The other major aspect of my research is to understand and decipher the role of phytohormone ‘Auxin’ along with the associated downstream developmental changes during the reproductive phase in Rice under temperature stress. My dissertation work would provide valuable insights into the potential use of BMVE as a plant growth regulator, and underlying adaptive mechanisms related to development in crops grown under heat stress (high day-night, high night, and high day temperatures).

I have started serving as a graduate student ambassador of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) since May 2021. I am working very enthusiastically since day one of my appointment whether it be the promotion of ASPB or dissemination of the scientific information generated from our organization’s platform. Being an ambassador, I also got the chance to serve as Moderator-A and Moderator-B for three concurrent sessions during the Plant Biology meeting, 2021. Currently, looking for more opportunities where I could contribute to the ASPB.


Diwaker TripathI am working as a research associate at the University of Washington, Seattle. My research is focused on studying DNA damage in organelle DNAs of Maize plants. I am also interested in understanding the structure and function of DNA during different development stages of maize plants.

I did my master’s in biochemistry from the East Tennessee State University, TN, where I discovered the molecular functioning of chemical inducers of plant defense. I completed my Ph.D. in molecular plant sciences from Washington State University (WSU, Pullman) in 2014. During my PhD, I investigated the protein-protein interactions between economically important tospoviruses. After my PhD, I joined the department of Plant Pathology, WSU as a postdoctoral researcher. My postdoc research involved an understanding of plant defense mechanism induced by extracellular ATP. I showed that extracellular ATP interacts with plant hormones to enhance defense against pathogens.

I have been an ASPB ambassador since 2017. As an ambassador of the largest plant community, I get the opportunity to communicate and connect with other scientists. Some of my duties are to educate people about the ASPB and to encourage them to join the ASPB membership and participate in ASPB meetings. As social media plays an important role in promotion, outreach and networking activities, I frequently share the ASPB related posts/blogs on Twitter and Facebook. In 2017, I had an opportunity to interview Dr. Keiko Torri (University of Washington, Seattle) for a luminary article. Later, this article was published in the ASPB newsletter. In 2018, I represented the ASPB at the western section meeting.

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