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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

Josef D. Ackerman

PhD, 1989
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 an Assistant Professor at St. Martin’s University in Washington.
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

PhD, 2010
Jeremy Coate studied the evolution of photosynthesis in polyploids in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Doyle. He is now a visiting Assistant Professor at Reed College in the Portland, Oregon area.
Sarah Nell Davidson
Sarah Davidson Evanega 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 currently serves as an International Professor of Plant Breeding (adjunct) and Senior Associate Director of International Programs at Cornell University and is working with the Senior Associate Director of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative.
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 an Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota.
James W. Horn
Jay is an Assistant Professor at the Florida Gulf Coast University. He studies the molecular evolution and taxonomy of Stillingia (Euphorbiaceae).
Sandra Knapp

Sandra Knapp

PhD, 1986
Sandra is Head of the Plants Division of the Natural History Museum in London. Sandra studies the Neotropical Solanaceae.
Carl E. Lewis

Carl E. Lewis

PhD, 2001
Carl is the 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

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

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.
Shannon Straub
Shannon Straub's dissertation research was conducted with Professor Jeff Doyle and focused on the molecular systematics of Amorpha, a legume genus, as well as the conservation genetics of rare species of Amorpha. After completing her PhD, she conducted four years of postdoctoral research at Oregon State University. Shannon is currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York where her research focuses on milkweed phylogenomics and organellar genome evolution in the plant family Apocynaceae.
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

PhD, 2006
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 Scientist at the Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB (Sobi) in Stockholm, Sweden.
Shaoqun Zhou
Simon is an Associate Scientist- Postdoctoral Fellow at Elo Life Systems, in Durham, North Carolina. He is an early career biologist interested in the interactions between plants and their biotic environments in the soil microbial community.