Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Hearst Foundation Developmental Chair
Ana Marie Palanca
BIOINFORMATICS ANALYST II
Maher Un Nisa
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.
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.
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.