Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Hearst Foundation Developmental Chair
Ana Marie Palanca
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 ? 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.
BIOINFORMATICS ANALYST II
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.
Research Assistant I
Joshua Eis received his Bachelors of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, San Diego. During his undergraduate, he was a research assistant in Dr. Linda Holland’s lab at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography where he studied the role of FGF in establishing somite boundaries of Branchiostoma Floridae and how it compares to vertebrates. Additionally, he spent a summer in Dr. Emma Farley’s lab to study the role of the ZRS enhancer in expressing the Sonic Hedgehog Transcription Factor in mice. He also helped facilitate an upper division course called Eukaryotic Gene Expression under Dr. James Kadonaga. Eis joined the Law lab in April 2022 as a volunteer and began his Research Assistant I role in August 2022. Currently, he is working with Dr. Laura Martins to elucidate how the CLSY proteins are involved in establishing methylation patterns in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome via the RNA-directed DNA Methylation (RdDM) pathway.
Kristen Werner received her Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Vermont in 2021. Due to her long-time interest in environmental issues, Kristen spent her first two years at UVM living in the Sustainability learning community where she became familiar with the local ecology through hands-on outdoor classes and worked with her peers to incorporate sustainable practices, like composting, into everyday dorm life. Kristen went on to participate in undergraduate research under evolutionary biologist Dr. Laura J. May-Collado in 2021, using auditory data from Puerto Rico to study how climate change has affected the physiology and vocalizations of the Coquí frog. Kristen joined the Law Lab as a Lab Tech in 2022 to provide support for the projects and research efforts of the lab.