My research interests range from the molecular and biochemical mechanisms involved in the resistance of plants against pathogens to the biosynthesis of hydrocarbon compounds by algae that can be used as fuel in modern combustion engines.
I did my B.S. (1991) and M.S. (1993) studies at Michigan Technological University where I studied with John Adler working on the biosynthesis of insect molting hormones in plants as a defense mechanism against insect attack.
For a few years I worked as a research technician in the lab of John Dean at DePaul University in Chicago where we studied the detoxification of phenylpropanoids by conjugation with glutathione.
My Ph.D. (2000) studies were done in the lab of Joe Chappell at the University of Kentucky. Here I studied the control of the isoprenoid pathway during plant-pathogen interactions using tobacco and its fungal pathogen Phytophthora.
During my Ph.D. studies I collaborated with Shigeru Okada from the University of Tokyo on cloning isoprenoid hydrocarbon biosynthetic genes from the green microalgae Botryococcus braunii.
I carried out postdoctoral studies (2001 – 2005) at the Boyce Thompson Institute on the campus of Cornell University. At BTI I studied with Greg Martin researching tomato protein kinases that control cell death during the interaction with the tomato bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae.
In 2006 I joined the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. My lab continues to study plant-pathogen interactions by researching protein kinases regulating host cell death. We also continue to study isoprenoid hydrocarbon biosynthesis in B. braunii in collaboration with Shigeru Okada and Joe Chappell.
In 2009 I received a fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to support travel and research for one month at the University of Tokyo to continue studies on Botryococcus braunii with Shigeru Okada. I am also a member of the US JSPS Alumni Association.