Law Lab
Principal Investigator

Julie Law

Associate Professor
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Hearst Foundation Developmental Chair

Julie Law received her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University in 2001 and her Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2006 where she investigated RNA editing in Trypanosome brucei in the Sollner-Webb laboratory. Dr. Law’s post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Steven E. Jacobsen at the University of California, Los Angeles focused on understanding the roles of small RNAs in targeting DNA methylation and gene silencing in Arabidopsis thaliana and was supported by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Health. In September of 2012, Dr. Law joined the Plant Biology program at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences as an Assistant Professor where she continues to focus on epigenetics and other chromatin based processes. In January of 2019, Dr. Law was promoted to an Associate Professor.
Postdoctoral Fellows

Ceyda Coruh

Research Associate

Ceyda Coruh received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering program from Sabanci University (Istanbul, Turkey), and her PhD in Plant Biology from Penn State in 2014 in the Axtell lab, where she focused on the identification, biogenesis and function of different types of endogenous small RNAs in the moss Physcomitrella patens. Ceyda joined the Law Lab in 2016 where her current research is centered on understanding the interplay between chromatin and DNA repair processes using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Laura Martins

Laura Martins

Research Associate

Laura Martins did her PhD in Reichheld lab at LGDP (University of Perpignan, France) where she worked on an iron-sulfur cluster protein belonging to the antioxidant enzyme family of glutaredoxin, the Arabidopsis GRXS17. The goal of her thesis was to better understand the role of this protein in root development and temperature adaptation by both in vivo and in vitro techniques, using biochemical, proteomic, microscopic, genetic and phenotypic approaches. She joined the Law lab at the Salk Institute in October 2019 to help, by using her background, in the characterization of factors involved in the RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway to determine the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms controlling DNA methylation patterns.

Ana Marie Palanca

Research Associate

Ana Marie Palanca received her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology from UCLA in 2005.  As part of the Center for Academic and Research Excellence (CARE) Fellows and Scholars Program and the Minority Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U*STAR) Program, she did undergraduate research in Steve Jacobsen’s lab, characterizing methyl-binding proteins in Arabidopsis. She received her Ph.D. in 2012, from the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCLA where she worked in Alvaro Sagasti’s lab, identifying and mapping subtypes of somatosensory neurons in larval zebrafish. Her dissertation work was primarily funded by the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Health. As a post-doc in Julie Law’s lab, she returned to her love of plants and is currently studying DNA methyl-binding protein complexes and how they regulate gene expression in Arabidopsis. Her post-doctoral work was funded by the Glenn Center for Research on Aging.

Matt Simenc


Mathew received his Bachelor’s in Botany from Humboldt State University and his Master’s in Biology from California State University, Fullerton. Mathew has a long-time love for plants and took interest in bioinformatics toward the end of his Bachelor’s program. For his Master’s thesis he focused on annotating fern genomes and the bioinformatic characterization of LTR retrotransposons. Mathew joined Julie Law’s lab in March 2020 to provide bioinformatics support for the Harnessing Plants Initiative at Salk.

Maher Un Nisa

Research Associate

Maher Un Nisa completed her Ph.D. in 2021 in the Chromosome Dynamics (ChromD) laboratory at the Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS2), University of Paris-Saclay in Gif-sur-Yvette, France. She worked on the identification of factors involved in the response to replicative stress in Arabidopsis thaliana. Her aim was to discover new players in plant DNA damage signalling and to explore the relevance of these mechanisms in the plants’ response to environmental stresses. She reported on the role of the non-replicative DNA polymerase theta Θ in the repair of DNA replication associated damage. Moreover, she found that this protein is crucial for the maintenance of genome integrity and that the requirement of this activity is enhanced by abiotic stresses, providing evidence for a link between the plant DNA damage response and their ability to adjust to the changing environment. In 2022, she joined the Law laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow to deepen her understanding of the DNA damage response in plants and to connect this with maintenance of epigenome integrity.


Guanghui Xu

Research Associate

Guanghui Xu received his Ph.D. in Crop Genetics and Breeding in China Agricultural University in 2019. As a graduate student in Feng Tian’s lab (National Maize Improvement Center of China) he studied the genetic basis of maize domestication from a metabolomic perspective. By analyzing the metabolic evolution between maize and its progenitor, teostine, he identified many specialized metabolites that are involved in maize domestication and mapped candidate genes responsible for the maize metabolic domestication processes. As a postdoctoral fellow in Julie Law’s lab, he started to focus on the molecular mechanisms of DNA methylation establishment in Arabidopsis and is currently screening for novel factors involved in the function of CLSYs, which are locus-specific DNA methylation regulators.
Research Assistants

William Albers

Research Assistant I

William Albers received his Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Berkeley in Genetics and Plant Biology. During his time there, he created and taught an accredited upper division course called Fruits of the World that studied plant biology through the lens of different fruits each week. He also spent a semester working in a plant pathology lab through an upper division course, researching the effects of spray-induced gene silencing (SIGS) on powdery mildew spore production. Additionally, he spent time working as the gardener for the Chaparral House, a skilled nursing facility in Berkeley. His research in the Law Lab pertains to the Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI). Using genetic engineering approaches, he hopes to identify novel phenotypes associated with root growth and recalcitrant biopolymers. Inspired by his time at Salk and his experiences teaching plant biology, he wants to continue researching plant biology with a focus on agriculture and fruit development.


Sara Behnami

Research Assistant III

Sara Behnami recently moved to San Diego from Ontario, Canada, where she earned her Ph.D. at Ontario Tech University in Bonetta’s lab. Her Ph.D. research was focused on “Forward and reverse genetic approaches to investigate cellulose biosynthesis in Physcomitrium patens.” Her postdoctoral research was also focused on cell and molecular Biology of Physcomitrium patens. Sara joined the Law Lab in 2021 as part of the HPI scientific project at Salk. In her role as RAIII, she identifies gene regulatory networks and their roles in modulating the accumulation of root biopolymers. She is also generating constructs for creating transgenic crop plants.

Graduate Students

Luke Sarre

Graduate Student

Luke Sarre is a graduate student in Dr. Chory’s lab and is co-advised by the Law and Busch labs as part of the Harnessing Plants Initiative at Salk. Luke first experienced plant research during his final thesis project of dual Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Sheffield, studying adventitious roots in Arabidopsis thaliana. After graduating in 2017, he enrolled in the Affiliated Doctoral Program in Biological Sciences between UCSD and the Salk Institute where he continues to study Arabidopsis, focusing on the regulation of suberin synthesis and accumulation.

Laboratory Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellows


Clara Bourbousse


Elisa Iniesto


Ming Zhou

Graduate Students


Luke Sarre


Neeraja Vegesna

Research Assistant III


Mina Rostamza

Josh Wemmer

Josh Wemmer

Research Assistant I


Adam Flanders

Rotation Students

Gabrielle Meza

Workstudy Students


Angela Ranon


Josiah Discar

Josiah Discar

Joy Baal

Joy Baal