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Genetics and Development Faculty Research

Tara EndersTara Enders
Assistant Professor
Broadly, my lab aims to study how plants cope and respond to abiotic stress. If we can better understand the mechanisms plants use to deal with a stressful environment, we may be able to engineer more resilient plants as the climate becomes more variable. Within a single plant species there can exist a large amount of phenotypic and genetic variation. Understanding the range of responses to stress within a species is vital information for plant breeders interested in improving plant performance. Characterizing whole-plant level responses to stress allows for the summation of multiple cell- and tissue-level responses to be monitored simultaneously. My lab performs experiments which describe the different mechanisms species use to tolerate stress while introducing students to computational methods and image analysis. Additionally, we take advantage of resources for model plant species, such as Arabidopsis and maize, to understand the genetic basis for stress-related phenotypes.

Phone: (516) 463-8510
Office: Gittleson 102A
Email | Website | Bio

Nathan RigelNathan Rigel
Associate Professor
Broadly described, my research interests focus on the various pathways that bacteria use to sort proteins to their appropriate destinations. In  particular, I am interested in the molecular mechanisms by which some proteins are delivered to and assembled within the bacterial outer membrane (OM) while others are secreted from the bacterial cell altogether. Since the OM acts as a barrier to toxic compounds, formation of this compartment is critically important for bacteria to survive in harsh environments like the human gut. Similarly, secreted proteins are often involved in establishing and maintaining bacterial infections inside animal hosts. I believe that a clearer understanding of these processes is critical for development of novel treatments to control bacterial infections.

Phone: (516) 463-6542
Office: Gittleson 318A
Email | Bio

Robert SeagullRobert Segull
For over 30 years, my research has focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms that control plant cell growth and development.  Within that context, my current research focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms that control cotton fiber growth and development.  Most of the textile properties of cotton fiber are directly affected by the biological processes that control cell elongation and wall synthesis.  My lab uses a multi-faceted approach, employing ultrastructural analysis (both light and electron microscopy), pharmacological studies and physiological investigations.  Through these analyses we will identify pivotal developmental mechanisms and “windows of opportunity” that can be modified in ways that will improve the textile properties of cotton fiber and increase the economic value of US grown cotton.

Phone: (516) 463-5267
Office: Gittleson 222
Email | Bio

Laura VallierLaura Vallier
Associate Professor
Currently my lab has research interests in two areas: (1) My primary area of interest is the non-neuronal functions of LIM-homeodomain (LIM-HD) transcription factors.  One reporter fusion that has been traditionally used to mark the thin gonadal sheath (see interest number 2) is lim-7, a member of the Islet subgroup of the LIM-HD transcription factor family, fused to Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP).  LIM-HD proteins are evolutionarily conserved, and while much is known about the role of LIM-HD proteins in motor neurons, much less is known about its function in non-neuronal tissues.  The LIM-7 LIM-HD protein is expressed in the gonadal sheath and a small tissue-specific enhancer element has been identified in its intron 1, which is necessary and sufficient for the expression of a reporter in the gonadal sheath.  We are trying to understand more about the function and regulation of this protein.  (2) The second interest I have is to understand the genetic signals and mechanisms necessary for cells to differentiate into a specialized tissue or organ.  We are using the gonadal sheath tissue of the free-living ground-dwelling nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model.  This simple tissue, composed of ten cells, mostly surrounds each arm of the gonad and is indispensable for fertility.  We have used RNA interference to identify the genes that are necessary for the development and maintenance of this tissue.

Phone: (516) 463-6719
Office: Gittleson 309A
Email | Website | Bio

Faculty Research: All Biology Faculty