Alumni Spotlights

Graduates of Plant Biology have an abundance of career options after graduation. Plant Biology graduates are strong competitors, well-rounded scientists with solid backgrounds, multidisciplinary, collaborative, and with long-term vision. A full list of graduate student alumni is also available.

Josef D. Ackerman

Professor of Physical Ecology and Aquatic Science. Former Associate Dean in the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph. Studies physical ecology, including the role and function of organisms in aquatic environments.

Robert Bode

Robert Bode has investigated the ecological and evolutionary consequences of natural selection by herbivores on Solidago (goldenrod). Robert is now a Visiting Professor at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Janelle Burke

Janelle Burke

Janelle Burke

PhD, 2011

Janelle Burke pursued her PhD in Plant Biology in the area of systematics under the guidance of Dr. Melissa Luckow. Through her doctoral research, she addressed questions regarding broad scale evolutionary relationships and species boundaries. Janelle is now Assistant Professor of Biology at Howard University.

Jeremy Coate

Jeremy Coate

Jeremy Coate

PhD, 2010

Jeremy Coate studied the evolution of photosynthesis in polyploids in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Doyle. He is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at Oregon State University.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

PhD, 2011

Sean Hammond developed a computer program that is capable of simulating the behavior of real plant populations and entire communities based on the simplifying assumption that species ensemble behavior is determined by competition for space and light. Sean is now a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of New Mexico.

(Jay) James W. Horn

Post Doc Fellow in Department of Botany, Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History. Studies the phylogeny and trait evolution in Euphorbia and Dilleniaceae, systematic anatomy of palms and Malvales, and the phylogeography of Hawaiian plants. 

Sandra Knapp

Sandra Knapp

Sandra Knapp

PhD, 1986

Sandra is a Merit Researcher in Tropical Botany at the Natural History Museum in London. Sandra studies the Neotropical Solanaceae.

Carl E. Lewis

Carl E. Lewis

Carl E. Lewis

PhD, 2001

Director, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, adjunct faculty University of Miami and Florida International University. Develops and implements budgets, policies, and administrative procedures; maintains horticultural exhibits and collections.

Damon Little

Damon Little

Damon Little

PhD, 2005

Damon Little finished his PhD with Kevin Nixon researching the evolution and circumscription of the Cupressaceae: Cupressus and Callitropsis, and continues to study this conifer family. Damon is the Assistant Curator for Bioinformatics at the New York Botanical Garden.

Marcus McFerren

Marcus McFerren

Marcus McFerren

BS, 1995; PhD, 2000

Marcus McFerren is a 2000 graduate of the Department of Plant Biology (L.H. Bailey Hortorium). His PhD focused on the ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of North and South American angiosperm species used as fish poisons. Marcus is now a dermatologist.

Sarah Nell Davidson

Sarah Nell Davidson pursued a novel, writing-focused PhD program that fused her experience in plant biology research with science communication, under the guidance of Robert Turgeon. She is currently a Senior Research Associate in International Programs at Cornell University and is working with the Senior Associate Director of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative.

Betty Vassiliki Smocovitis

Betty Vassiliki Smocovitis

Betty Vassiliki Smocovitis

MS, 1983; PhD, 1988

Teaches and writes about the history of science, including modern evolutionary biology, genetics, systematics, paleontology, and ecology. Professor in Department of History, University of Florida.

Jimmy Ytterberg

Jimmy Ytterberg came to Cornell in 2001, where he developed his PhD thesis titled: Thylakoid proteome analysis of chloroplasts of Arabidopsis thaliana; Elucidation of thylakoid functions and its biogenesis machinery in the lab of Professor Klaas van Wijk. Jimmy is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.