Rhee Lab Members

  • Flavia Bossi (Senior Research Associate)

    Since college, I have always been interested in the regulation of gene expression; promoters and transcription factors are still my favorite areas of study. Following that interest, I joined Patricia Leon’s lab at the Instituto de Biotecnologia (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) to work on the functional characterization of an AP2/ERF transcription factor involved in the glucose signaling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana. It was a challenging Ph.D. project that excited, frustated, and at times puzzled me.

    Early in 2010, I decided to join Sue Rhee’s lab to study a family of regulatory proteins important for another level of gene regulation – targeted degradation of proteins. I was drawn to the Rhee lab for several different reasons. 1- to try to grasp the way of thinking of bioinformatitians (learn basic bioinformatics along the way), 2- to be part of an interesting multidisciplinary group, 3- looking for something new and outside of my comfort zone.

    Even though science eats up most of my time, I do have other interests. My most beloved hobbie has always been dance, both taking classes and enjoying dance performances. Moving to the Bay Area introduced me to another art form which is now one of my hobbies too: taiko drumming. And last but not least, I have a family-shared pastime: to play video-games. Favorite console? Nintendo DS … by far.

  • William Dwyer (Research Assistant)

    My name is Will, I am a 2020 graduate of Vassar College (in New York) where I received a B.A. in Biochemistry with a secondary concentration in sociology. I grew up in France, near Versailles, but my family is originally from Belgium, Japan, and Boston. I was first introduced to research as an undergraduate student - working in chemistry and genetics labs - and during a summer fellowship at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, where I investigated a novel therapy for a rare genetic disorder. After my experiences in the biomedical world, my interests shifted towards plant biology as I grew increasingly concerned over the effects of impending climate changes and developed an appreciation for kingdom Plantae. Outside of work, I like to read novels about dystopian futures and rewatch Broad City episodes for the tenth time - I'm also a recently retired collegiate track/XC runner who still enjoys a good trail run!

  • Maxwell Eckelbarger (Research Assistant)

    My name is Maxwell Eckelbarger, and this year I am a sophomore at Stanford University studying a self-designed major called Botanical Engineering. I am from Spencerville Indiana and grew up on a farm and in the forests, and this instilled in me a love for nature and plants. I want to study how plants and other biological vectors can be used to fix environmental issues and repair Earth's ecosystems and make modern life more sustainable. I am most interested in cold sensation and toxin processing in plants' secondary metabolism as of recent. I am also an art minor and pursuing a notation in science communication, and am passionate about communicating science to the public through images.

  • Sterling Field (Postdoctoral Fellow)

    I finished my PhD in Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Tennessee. My dissertation research focused on autophagy mediated turnover of mRNA-Protein complexes during flooding in Arabidopsis, and how RNA granules are regulated during stress. For my masters, I worked on miRNA mediated tassel development in Maize at East Carolina University, in North Carolina. I earned my bachelors at the Ohio State University, where I researched transcriptional regulation of floral development in Arabidopsis, and majored in Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology. Outside of the lab I co-lead the LGBTQ+ Plant Scientist Network, advocate for LGBTQ+ visibility and support in STEM, and enjoy hiking, gardening, and reading science fiction.

  • Emily Fryer (Research Assistant)

    I received my B.S. in Biology concentrating in Ecology, along with a minor in Computing from San Francisco State University in Fall 2018. During my undergrad I was a member of the CoDE (Coding to Understand Disease Evolution) lab where I was introduced to the principles of population genetics and computational biology. My research focused on utilizing computational methods to understand the fitness costs associated with drug resistance mutations in HIV. In addition I've had the opportunity to dabble in front-end web development, data mining and topic modeling to understand sentiment on social media. My passions have always been rooted in the world of plants, their ecology and coevolution with other organisms. I am excited to be a member of the Rhee lab where I will apply computational methods to understanding metabolic processes in plants. My ultimate goal is to pursue a PhD and am interested in understanding the effect of varying ploidy levels on evolution. In my spare time I enjoy  hiking, baseball, cooking and grazing my way through the culinary savanna of the the Bay Area.

  • Danny Ginzburg (Research Assistant)

    I was born and raised in Chicago. I did my undergrad at Northwestern where I studied Earth Sciences and Environmental Policy. I then worked as a sustainability data analyst for 2 years before moving to Israel to get my masters degree in agricultural sciences at Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture. I completed my graduate research at the Israel Ministry of Agriculture studying the interation of incident light spectra and seed priming techniques to improve the growth efficiency and drought tolerance of leafy greens. After graduate school, I moved to New York City to work in commercial hydroponics growing leafy greens and herbs on the rooftops of commercial and industrial buildings. I'm an introvert who loves a quiet and comfortable environment to read. My physical sustenance mostly comes in the form of coffee, oats, peanut butter, hummus, and burritos.

  • Charles Hawkins (Biocurator)

    I received my Ph.D. from U. Maryland under Dr. Zhongchi Liu, where I studied the ways in which gene expression and hormones come together to shape the parts of the flower and worked on a new model of the role of auxin in fruit development. I also worked on pipelines for genomic analysis in strawberry and identified the mutation behind yellow strawberries’ color. I previously received a BA in physics and computer science from U. Maryland. After receiving my Ph.D., I worked for two years as a postdoc at the USDA-ARS Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research Unit in Prosser, WA under Dr. Long-Xi Yu, working on automated pipelines for genomic selection for abiotic stress tolerance in alfalfa. I joined Rhee lab in August of 2018 as BioCurator of the Plant Metabolic Network. I am currently working to curate the PlantCyc database, to improve the accuracy and capabilities of our prediction pipelines, and to make the pipelines more automated. Building tools and resources that people use to do cool science is a passion of mine. Outside of work, I enjoy baking, electronics, programming, and going for walks.

  • Purva Karia (Postdoctoral Fellow)

    I received my PhD from University of Toronto in the lab of Dr. Keiko Yoshioka. My PhD research focused on the subcellular localization, function and the importance of post-translational modification of Arabidopsis tail-anchored protein, Triphosphate Tunnel Metalloenzyme 1 (TTM1). I have always been interested in understanding plant hormone signaling and the significance of the protein post-translational modification. In the Rhee and Ehrhardt labs, I will be working on the Sorghum Metabolic Atlas project to unravel the localization and functions of Sorghum metabolic enzymes. Outside of the lab, I enjoy camping, hiking, baking and visits to the dog park with my furbaby.

  • Elena Lazarus (Assistant Scientific Coordinator)

    I received my B.S. in chemistry with a minor in English and an ACS certification in biochemistry from the University of Portland in 2019. While in college, I worked in two laboratories (the Hoffman lab and the Weilhoefer lab) on research focused on extracting, identifying, and quantifying compounds from plants. In 2018, I was a National Science Foundation Boyce Thompson Institute Plant Genome Research Intern in the Moghe lab at Cornell University. Prior to joining Carnegie, I also worked at the Oregon Health and Science University on the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s peer review editorial board from 2017 to 2019. In the Rhee lab, I work on a variety of interdisciplinary projects using molecular and chemical techniques to study novel genes and mechanisms. In my free time, I love to cook and bake, read, and go hiking.

  • Olivia MacDonald (Research Assistant)

    I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology and a minor in Forestry and Natural Resource Management. My love for plant biology was cultivated through my undergraduate research at the UC Berkeley Plant Gene Expression Center in the Hake Lab that culminated in a post-graduate summer fellowship. After graduation, I took a leap into a field completely unfamiliar to me- merging cutting edge biochemistry with machine learning- as a Research Lab Technician at Google Accelerated Science. I am excited for the next step in my career as a research assistant in the Rhee Lab, where I hope to build on my past experiences and contribute to meaningful research in plant biology. In the future, I aspire to obtain my PhD and dedicate my career to elucidating information about plant systems and their responses to disease, drought, and stress - especially in the context of climate change. Outside of work, I enjoy sailing on the San Francisco Bay, backpacking, and tending to my ever growing jungle of houseplants. 

  • Steven Massa (Visiting Student)

  • Daniella Morales (Visiting Student)

  • Karine Prado (Senior Research Associate)

    I received my PhD from the University of Montpellier (France) where I studied the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling the hydraulic properties of Arabidopsis thaliana rosette in response to environmental stresses. Then I joined the University of Edinburgh (UK) as a postdoctoral research associate. I studied the contribution of non-transcriptional mechanisms to biological timekeeping of the pico-alga Ostreococcus tauri that has become a new relevant model for plant Systems Biology. Then I studied how light and thermo-sensitive phytochrome photoreceptors regulate chloroplast RNA processing and photosynthesis.

    At the Carnegie Institution, I am going to study mechanisms of thermoadaptation of a desert extremophile C4 plant. The long term goal of this project is to improve crops and to address relevant challenges in response to worldwide climate changes.

    When I am not working in lab, I like hiking, dancing, swimming, reading and watching movies.

  • Selena Rice (Scientific Coordinator )

    I received my Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in the lab of Dr. Juliette Lecomte. My thesis research involved the investigation of the structure, function, and chemistry of a truncated hemoglobin (THB1) found in Chamlydomonas reinhardtii. Since earning my Ph.D. in 2015, I have been working as a lab manager, first in the lab of Dr. John Kim at Johns Hopkins and then in the lab of Dr. Jeremy Reiter at UCSF working on various projects and ensuring that the lab ran smoothly. I joined the Rhee lab in April of 2020 as a Biocurator of the Plant Metabolic Network. I am currently working to curate the PlantCyc database, identifying new metabolic pathways to improve the coverage and usability of the database for scientists around the world. In my free time I volunteer for the AI Village and Women in Security and Privacy, two non-profits in the information security space. I also enjoy reading, exercising, spending time with my cats and husband, and eating good food.

  • Megan Ruffley (Postdoctoral Fellow)

    I am interested in using machine learning algorithms to understand selection across plant genomes in response to stress. I received my PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Idaho where I focused on performing simulation-based model inference using machine learning algorithms in areas ranging from demographic inference and phylogenetics to community-wide assembly mechanisms. This research was concentrated on disjunct plants of the Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest, but also focused on community-wide plant ecosystems, such as island plant communities. I am currently interested in continuing to apply machine learning algorithms to novel problems in evolutionary biology that can aid in solving our world’s most challenging problems. In the Moi and Rhee labs, I continue to investigate these algorithms as I study the relationship between genetic adaptation and response to stress in economically and agriculturally important crop plants. Investigating such adaptations to stress aid in our struggle to understand the future impacts of climate change.

  • Evan Saldivar (Graduate Student)

    I graduated from UC San Diego in 2019 with a major in Molecular Biology and a minor in Mathematics. My previous research focused on small-molecule specialized metabolism in maize (Zea mays) roots, with a specific focus on terpenoid biochemistry. I am broadly interested in plant biochemistry, as well as the application and development of new techniques, both experimental and computational. I am starting a PhD in Stanford's Biology Department in Fall 2020, and am excited to engage with the broader scientific community, at both Stanford and the Carnegie Institute!

  • Jason Thomas (Postdoctoral Fellow)

    My name is Jason Thomas, and I am from  Omaha Nebraska. I went to the University  of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated with a Degree in Biological Systems Engineering. I then went to earn a Ph.D. in Plant Biological Sciences University of Minnesota Twin Cities where I worked on improving floral nectar production in the biofuel cover crop field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense). As a post doctoral researcher in the Rhee lab I’ll work on a variety of molecular and computation plant biology projects. When not in the lab I may be playing ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, piano or guitar. I am also fond of learning languages, identifying plants, and bad puns.

  • Bo Xue (Research Assistant)

    I graduated in 2015 from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Master's degree in Computer Science focusing on data mining and recommender systems. Discovering new and relevant information from data has always been an interesting topic to me. After working at the Chinese Academy of Science on the systematic characterization of mice miRNA expression, I developed a fondness for bioinformatics. Since joining Sue Rhee's lab in 2015, I have been working on many interesting projects, mainly the Plant Metabolic Network, which includes developing computational pipelines and tools for visualizing our databases. If I'm not working, you'll probably find me trying to catch a movie. I love the theater going experience.

  • Kangmei Zhao (Postdoctoral Fellow)

    I got my Ph. D from The University of Oklahoma and joined the Rhee lab in July, 2016. During my graduate study, I worked on the characterization of novel cell wall associated transcription factors in grasses, especially focusing on members that can control grass-specific cell wall biosynthesis genes. Then, I got to be really interested in further understanding pathway evolution and plants adaptation to the environment. After the graduate training with Dr. Laura Bartley, I decided to join the Rhee lab. I really enjoy the multidisciplinary research environment. Currently, I am working on the regulation and evolution of plant specialized metabolic genes as well as discovering novel secondary metabolites that could potentially promote plants resistance to different stress stimuli. Outside of research, I love reading and running.