Dr. Jan E. Leach
Jan E. Leach is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and an Adjunct Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (Philippines). She is an authority on the molecular biology of plant– pathogen interactions. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of durable disease resistance, particularly in rice-pathogen interactions. Other projects currently underway in her laboratory are related to bioenergy (genetics of biomass production), improving health benefits of crop plants, and the development of novel tools for detection and monitoring of microbes associated with plants. She is a Fellow and a past President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). She currently chairs the APS Public Policy Board. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), served as Chair of the AAAS Section O (Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources) in 2007, and is currently a member of the Section O Steering Committee. Leach is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Prior to her appointment at CSU, Dr. Leach was named a University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University in 1998. She served as President of the International Society of Molecular Plant–Microbe Interactions. Leach has served on or chaired advisory committees for a number of national and international projects, programs and institutions, including the U.S. Rice Genome Sequencing Project, the Research Core for Interdisciplinary Science (RCIS) at Okayama University (Japan), Rural Development Agency (Korea), and a National Research Council (NRC) study. She has served on numerous editorial boards, and was Editor in Chief of the APS journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. Leach earned her B.S. and M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a postdoctoral fellow at East Malling Research Station in Kent, England.
Jillian M. Lang
Jillian was born in Akron, NY just outside of Buffalo, and completed her B.S. in Biology at the State University of New York, College at Fredonia. She moved to Fort Collins, CO in 2003 to complete her M.S. in Plant Pathology at Colorado State University where she worked on biological control strategies for Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. allii, causal agent of Xanthomonas leaf blight of onion with Dr. Howard Schwartz. Following completion of her degree, she was fortunate to remain in the department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management to work on the Comprehensive Phytopathogen Genomics Resource project under the advisement of Dr. Jan Leach, Dr. Ned Tisserat and Dr. Robin Buell (Michigan State University) where she focused on developing comparative genomics based diagnostic tools to rapidly and accurately identify, as well as, differentiate Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae from Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola, two of the most important bacterial pathogens of rice (Lang et al. 2010). She completed that project and became a Senior Scientist at Solix Biosystems working on developing algae based biofuels and bioproducts. She then returned to CSU in the fall of 2010 to manage the research group for Dr. Jan Leach where she maintains equipment, spends money, keeps general order, manages the greenhouses, supervises undergraduate lab assistants, maintains the website and conducts her own research. She studies genes involved in defense response and biomass accumulation. She was recently admitted into the Cell and Molecular Biology Program at CSU for her PhD.
Dr. Valérie Verdier
Valérie Verdier studies bacterial pathogens that cause devastating diseases of the staple food crops cassava and rice. She obtained her Doctoral degree in plant pathology in 1988 from the University of Paris XI in Orsay. In 2003, she earned her “Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches” at the University of Orsay. Verdier’s long career with the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) has included international posts in the Congo, Central and West Africa, and Colombia (International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT). She developed and managed cassava disease and genomic projects that used the understanding of pathogen population structure and evolution to guide disease control measures. Recently, she built a research team to study newly emerged strains of rice bacterial blight and rice leaf streak diseases endangering rice production in Africa. In recognition of research excellence, Verdier is currently at CSU with the support of the European Commission’s prestigious Marie Curie Award.
Dr. Hongxia Liu
Dr. Lindsay Triplett
Lindsay, a native of Indiana, completed her PhD at Michigan State University in 2010 studying molecular plant pathology in the tree fruit pathology lab. Before joining the Leach lab as a post-doctoral fellow, she studied bioinformatics in the Buell lab at MSU for 1 month. Lindsay’s project is a collaboration with June Medford’s lab (synthetic biology, CSU Department of Biology). The goal of the collaboration is to develop plants that can detect Xylella fastidiosa, the citrus variegated chlorosis pathogen. Lindsay was recently awarded a USDA-NIFA project titled “Plant-Based Detection of Food Safety Pathogens”, a project that will adapt receptors to detect species-specific pheromone molecules produced by human pathogens which are contaminants of fresh produce. The goal is to develop detection and monitoring tools for pathogens important for food safety. Lindsay also uses genome-enabled strategies to develop tools for identification of bacterial plant pathogens.
Dr. Tony Campillo
Graduate Student - IGERT
Born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, I received my B.S. in Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After a brief hiatus on the shores of California, I returned to molecular biology among the beautiful mountains of Colorado. Generally, my research focuses on identifying the genetic control of desirable traits for bioenergy feedstocks.
Finding sustainable alternatives to the limited supply of fossil fuels, while addressing the threat of climate change represents one of the greatest challenges our society faces. Recent policy, along with advances in plant genetics has renewed interest and research in biofuels as a sustainable source of energy with the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The success of this approach is limited by our understanding of plant cell walls, which comprise the majority of cellulosic biomass.
Using rice as a model system, my project will identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) and underlying genes that control and regulate the construction and composition of plant cell walls. Understanding these processes will allow us to fine tune and tailor cell walls more amenable to downstream processing, whatever the technology may be. Not only is rice a useful model for other grasses and proposed dedicated energy crops, but a potentially large source of agricultural residues throughout the world. Combining traditional lab methods with the latest bioinformatics tools and techniques will allow me to quickly identify gene candidates as well as sources of variation for breeding programs. More generally, a better understanding of the cell wall will aid in developing improved conversion and processing technology, as well as the breeding or engineering of cell wall composition optimized for bioenergy, forage or other industries.
Graduate Student - IGERT
Loïc Deblais, France, not pictured
Sam Vazquez III
Jesse Ellgren, Not Pictured
Meghan Ferguson, Not Pictured
Brian Hadley, Not Pictured
Emily Troxtell, Not Pictured
Lab Alumni, Where Are They Now?
Andrew Wiersma, MS student, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Dr. Monica Osnaya González, Visiting Scientist, Colegio de Postgraduados, Campus Campeche, Mexico
Dr. Myron Bruce, PhD student, USDA-ARS, Manhattan, KS
Dr. Elizabeth Grabau, Visiting Scientist, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Dr. Rebecca Davidson, PhD student, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO
Dr. Amadou Seck, PhD student, CERAAS, Senegal
Dr. Seweon Lee, PhD student, National Academy of Agricultural Science, South Korea
Dr. Todd Gaines, PhD student, Bayer Crop Sciences, Germany
Jacob Snelling, M.S. student, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Dr. Hiromichi Ishihara, Post-Doc, Okayama University, Japan
Dr. Marie Anne VanSluys, Visiting Scientist & Collaborator, University São Paulo, Brazil
Dr. Patty Manosalva, PhD student, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY
Dr. Maria Genaleen Q. Diaz, Visiting Scientist, University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Philippines