Faculty Research

Research Opportunities

The faculty members within the department conduct research in a broad array of plant biology and microbiology disciplines, including cell and molecular biology, biotechnologybiochemistry, systems biology, synthetic biology, ecology, systematics, evolutionary biology, conservation and reproductive biology, computational biology and bioinformatics, and ethnobotany.  Our faculty work with model plants and microorganisms, with plants and microbes in natural ecosystems, and with agriculturally important crops. Departmental research programs enjoy national and international reputations, and contribute both to advancing basic understanding of fundamental questions in biology, as well as meeting applied needs in fields such as genetically modified plants, sustainable biofuel production, environmental pollution, and endangered species.

We benefit at NC State from having a large number of plant biologists and microbiologists on campus in the Center for Integrated Fungal Research, Crop Science, Horticultural ScienceFood, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition SciencesForestry, Plant Pathology and biologists in the COS Biological Sciences Department.  Collaborations with these faculty increase the breadth of our research efforts.

Information on individual research programs can be found through the links below.

  Cell and Molecular Biology

Tomatoes being grown on Space Shuttle


  • Ross Sozzani: Stem cell maintenance, patterning and growth
  • Terri Long: Increasing plant nutritional content and tolerance to nutrient stress
  • Anna Stepanova: Auxin biosynthesis and its regulation
  • Sirius Li: Plant metabolic engineering for human health, biofuel feedstock improvement
  • Marcela Rojas-Pierce: Chemical inhibitors of plant growth
  • Bob Franks: Molecular Genetic Basis of Ovule and Seed Pod Development; Specificity of transgene expression via cis-acting DNA regulatory elements
  • Imara Perera: Plant responses to abiotic and biotic stress
  • Heike Sederoff: Genetic enhancement ofalgae for biofuels production
  • Deyu Xie: Phytochemistry, metabolic engineering
  • Jose Alonso: Recombineering and development of new functional genomics tools
  • Jose M. Bruno-Barcena: Bioprocessing and fermentation
  • Candace Haigler: Functional genomics of fiber crops
  • Margaret Daub: Engineering plants for disease resistance
  • Jenny Xiang: Evolutionary developmental genetics in dogwoods
  • Susan Carson: Biotechnology education, summer undergraduate research opportunities
  • William Thompson: Transgene regulation and silencing
  • Eric Miller: Bacteriophage and microbial genomics
  • Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh: biological systems of flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables, epigenetics, plant reproduction and endosperm development

  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Terri Long: Systems biology, plant physiology, transcriptional regulatory networks
  • Anna Stepanova:  Inter-tissue organ growth coordination
  • Sirius Li: Metabolomics, genetics, genomics, biofuels and biomaterials
  • Alexander Krings: Specimen – based bioinformatics, weed science
  • Marcela Rojas-Pierce: Chemical genetics
  • Bob Franks: Genetic and Genomic Approaches to the Regulation of Organ Development; Understanding mechanisms by which positional cues are coordinated with proliferative cues during organogenesis
  • Heike Sederoff:  Systems biology, computational biology and bioinformatics, biofuels, RNA biology
  • Jose Alonso: Molecular genetics of plant hormone responses
  • Jose M. Bruno-Barcena: Microbial physiology and genetics
  • Candace Haigler (with Penn State and VPI): Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation (Imaging, protein structure, nanobioengineering, computational modling)
  • Thomas Wentworth: Multivariate analysis, ecoinformatics