Graduate Students

Alison Bartenslager

PhD Student

Alison Bartenslager

Ema Graham

PhD Student

Ema Graham

Hongyu Jin

PhD Student

Hongyu Jin

Career Path:

Industry

Prior Degrees Earned:

Bachelor - Agronomy - China Agricultural University- 2018

Laboratory Association(s):

Dr. James Schnable

Research Description:

I am interested in utilizing and optimizing high throughput phenotyping and genomics tools to reveal biology questions of crops.

Sarah Johnson

PhD Student

Portrait of Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson

Graduate Student in the Complex Biosystems Ph.D program specializing in Plant Biology

B.S., Biology, Winthrop University, 2010

M.S., Entomology, University of Georgia, 2013

Ph.D., Complex Biosystems, Integrated Plant Biology, EXP. GRAD. 2021

BACKGROUND

Thank you for visiting my site!

So  a little about me.  I was born and partially raised in WV, near Huntington. We had a large backyard where I spent a lot of time helping my mom in the garden and had a small vegetable plot of my own. My parents always had projects going on around the house so Lowe's was about a weekly visit. Often my parents would allow me to choose a plant to take home, within a certain price range of course. My favorite thing was to choose a plant from what I call "death row" (discounted plants in back) to nurture back to life. I learned a bit about the different plant stresses doing this and I still rescue plants from "death row" to this day. My family later moved to Myrtle Beach, SC when I was a teenager and thus recognize SC as my home state. I spent more time at the beach than in the garden then, but my fascination with plants and insects persisted.

I am currently a graduate student in the Complex Biosystems Ph.D program specializing in Integrative Plant Biology here at UNL. I earned my B.S. in Biology from Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC) and my M.S. in Entomology from the University of Georgia (Athens, GA). I then worked for Dr. Wayne Parrott as a technician for a few years at UGA on soybean transformation projects via biolistics (gene gun). I was also in charge of lab safety training, ordering/budgeting, and other lab managerial duties.  More specifics of my previous projects are outlined on my C.V. 

CURRENT RESEARCH and FUTURE CAREER GOALS

My current focus is a project initiated by Dr. David Hyten and Dr. Tom Clemente of UNL investigating the processes controlling meiotic crossover (CO). Increasing the sheer number of meiotic crossovers or altering meitotic crossover "hotspots" could unlock genetic diversity which will have many breeding applications. Genes have been identified in Arabidopsis mutants to alter CO. Orthologs of these genes have been chosen in soybean to be a target for RNA interference using transgenic technology via agrobacterium. Another, yet related, project of mine is to explore alternative high-throughput sequencing techniques to decrease labor and increase cost efficiency.

My professional goal is to acquire a position to study and improve plants partly by measuring their interactions with abiotic and biotic stresses. I value all work within crop improvement from the genetic level, bioassays, and the way they translate to production efficiency in the field. A position within an industry setting focusing on plant research or crop production would be ideal for me, particularly if happens to have an entomological aspect. This degree from University of Nebraska should prepare me for a career contributing to the field of plant science.

Aimee Kessel

PhD Student

Portrait of Aimee Kessel
Aimee Kessel

Aimee Kessell started her PhD at UNL in the CBIO program in Fall of 2017.  Originally from St. Lucia, she did her undergrad and master’s programs at University of Nebraska at Omaha, getting a BS in Biotechnology and an MS in Mathematics.  Her goal is to combine her love of mathematics and biology in her PhD.  She works with Dr. Song in Biological Systems Engineering, where she works on constraint-based modeling through linear programming on microbial communities in the soil and gut. When she is not researching, she’s usually finding some new tea to drink or in the kitchen, baking—and possibly missing the beach

Car Reen Kok

PhD Student

Portrait of Car Reen Kok
Car Reen Kok

Hi. I am Car Reen and I joined the Complex Biosystems program Fall 2018. I have previously obtained a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and a Masters' degree in Food Science at UNL. I am currently in the Hutkins' lab and am studying the functional effects of various prebiotics on the microbiome using an in vitro system. The goal of my project is to develop a model to predict individual microbiome responses towards prebiotics, leading towards opportunities of personalized nutrition

Nate Korth

PhD Student

Portrait of Nate Korth
Nate Korth

Area of Study: Characterizing associations of naturally occurring components in food crops and the human gut microbiome. Utilizing genetic variation and manipulation in grains to assess their effects on the human gut microbiome and further use those responses as a breeding trait for crops. Providing tools to the agriculture sector to improve nutritional aspects of crops which will aid in the long term prevention of microbiome associated diseases in the new movement of food for health.

Advisor: Dr. Andrew Benson

Hometown: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Undergraduate Degree: Food Science and Technology – University of Nebraska Lincoln

Honors and Awards: Nebraska Food for Health fellowship, Foundation for Food and Agricultural research

Read more about Nate 

Katherine LaTourrette

PhD Student

Portrait of Kathy La Tourrette
Katherine LaTourrette

Katherine graduated from Oberlin College in 2018 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies.  She started her PhD in the Complex Biosystems Program in 2018 and works with Dr. Garcia-Ruiz.  Her research focuses on the plant virus, potyvirus. Potyviruses infect a wide range of crops and constitute one of the most devastating plant virus genera.  Her research looks at how the selection pressure of the host and environment can impact variation and conservation across the genome and polyprotein.  This will hopefully lead to a better understanding of virus and host co-evolution and adaptation. Outside of the lab, she enjoys baking, traveling, and board games.

Armando Lerma Fuentes

PhD Student

Armando Lerma Fuentes

Fangyi Li

PhD Student

Portrait of Fangyi Li
Fangyi Li

2019-Present, PhD, Complex Biosystems, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2013-2018, Agronomy Bachelor’s degree, Northwest A&F University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dianna Long

PhD Student

Portrait of Dianna Long
Dianna Long

I grew up in Illinois, received a BS in Biology from Truman State University in Missouri, and then moved to Lincoln to pursue a Masters in Psychology from the University of Nebraska. After changing career directions, I currently am pursuing a PhD in the Complex Biosystems program and work in Dr. Rajib Saha’s Systems and Synthetic Biology lab. My research explores the use of non-model bacteria for bioproduction of industrially important chemicals using both systems and synthetic biology approaches. My hope is to further the pursuit of environmentally responsible and sustainable sources for materials typically created from petroleum. When I’m not in the lab, I’m usually enjoying my favorite aspect of Lincoln; the amazing bike trail system!

 

Hugh McCullough

PhD Student

Portrait of Hugh McCullough
Hugh McCullough

Hugh graduated from Michigan State University in 2018 with a B.S. in Biomedical Laboratory Studies. In his undergraduate studies he became interested in the gut microbiome largely due to its complexity and the growing implications it has with health. Following his undergraduate studies, he came to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln to pursue a PhD in the Complex Biosystems program in the Nebraska Food for Health Center. He is a member of the Auchtung Laboratory and is working with simplified bacterial communities and bioreactors to investigate how starvation and nutrient rescue shape community structure over time.

Michael Morikone

PhD Student

Michael Morikone

Amanda Quattrone

PhD Student

Portrait of Amanda Quattrone
Amanda Quattrone

Third year in Complex Biosystems PhD program. Specialization: Microbial Interactions

Advisor: Sabrina E Russo, School of Biological Sciences and Plant Science Innovation

Background: I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University in 2016. I worked as an undergrad lab assistant in a lab working on carbonic anhydrases in algae and Arabidopsis for 4 years. I attended a summer research program at UNL for biofuel research in algae. Before coming to UNL, I tutored full time in science and math for all grade levels.

Research Interests: I have always been interested in plants and how they interact with their environment. Microbial interactions with the plant system are an extension of this. I am fascinated by the metabolic diversity in microbes, and their physiological mechanisms for survival. Similarly, secondary metabolisms in plants, and mechanisms such as exudation for recruitment of microbes pique my scientific curiosity.

Personal Interests: My personal interests also lie in plants. I keep several indoor plants and maximize my patio space with potted plants in the summer. My current favorites are ivies, herbs, and a succulent or two. I also enjoy working with ceramics, playing music, and dancing when I get the chance.

Michael Richter

PhD Student

Portrait of Michael Richter
Michael Richter

2019 Ph.D. in Complex Biosystems (Plant-Integrative Biology) at UNL

2015-2019 Undergraduate Degree in Biotechnology at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany

 

Hometown: Lodersleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Fun fact: I love ducks and love eating bread.

Yu Shi

PhD Student

Portrait of Yu Shi
Yu Shi

Kimberly Stanke

PhD Student

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Kimberly Stanke

Kimberly Stanke is a fifth-year Ph.D. Candidate in Complex Biosystems, part of the inaugural cohort of the innovative program. She is currently engineering the microenvironment of the brain due to biological stressors including glioblastoma multiforme and methamphetamine under the direction of Dr. Srivatsan Kidambi in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering along with co-advisor Dr. Oleh Khalimonchuk in Biochemistry. Prior to coming to UNL, she earned a B.S. in Computational and Applied Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. Beyond her love of mathematics and improving human life, she is an active competitor and athlete in taekwondo and trains at Longoria's Tactical Martial Arts Academy in Lincoln, NE.

Ashley Stengel

PhD Student

Portrait of Ashley Stengel
Ashley Stengel

Ashley joined the CBIO program in Fall 2015 as part of the first cohort. She received a BS in Biology from the University of Utah and is now pursuing a PhD with a specialization in microbial interactions under the mentorship of Drs. Rhae Drijber and Joshua Herr. Ashley’s research applies bioinformatics tools to investigate the ecology of soil microbes in maize agroecosystems. Learn more about Ashley's work by listening to the Streaming Science podcast "Think Like a Microbe" and visiting her webpage.

 

Bridget Tripp

PhD Student

Portrait of Bridget Tripp
Bridget Tripp

Bridget Tripp is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Complex Biosystems Ph.D. program. Under the mentorship of Hasan H. Otu (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), she applies probabilistic graphical models and statistical bioinformatics to the integration of heterogeneous biological data, and the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of disease. Prior to joining Complex Biosystems, she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University and Master of Science in Bioinformatics from Georgetown University. When not pursuing her research, she enjoys cuddling her two dogs and cat, and keeping active through cycling, running, barre, and yoga. 

Michael Tross

PhD Student

Portrait of Michael Tross
Michael Tross

Michael Tross is a first year graduate student pursing a doctoral degree in the Complex Bioysystems program. His previous institutions include Doane University, where he acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, minoring in Environmental studies. He hails from the small town of Sandy Point, located on the small island of St.Kitts within the Caribbean region. Previous occupations held are lab technician and high school teacher.

Grace Watkins

PhD Student

Grace Watkins

Zhikai Yang

PhD Student

Portrait of Zhikai Yang
Zhikai Yang

I am Zhikai Yang, a grad student majoring in quantitative genetics and my research is utilizing multi-omics data to predict phenotype of corn and give a hint of the underlying molecular mechanism that contribute to the phenotype.