Announcing our 2020 Class of Plantae Fellows

As part of our ongoing commitment to creating a vibrant and engaging community for plant scientists, we launched the Plantae Fellow Program in 2016. With over 80 applicants from all over the world, we are proud to announce the people accepted into this year’s class.

The role of the Fellows is to help nurture and grow the Plantae community.  For example, Fellows are responsible for helping to source speakers for the Plantae Webinar Series, contributing to the Plant Science Research Weekly series, sharing ideas for resources that are relevant to early career plant scientists, and sharing topical content across the Plantae community in various ways.  Plantae Fellows also receive an inside view on the technology roadmap for the Plantae platform and provide feedback and direction as needed. Fellows are selected for their interest in and enthusiasm for growing the plant science community, for their science communication and content curation skills, and for their ability to represent the perspectives of plant scientists in various fields and globally across many countries.


Learn more about each of our new Fellows by visiting their Plantae profiles. Many of our new fellows are also active on Twitter. Find and follow them using this Twitter List.

Dennis Baffour-Awuah is a Masters student at University of Ghana studying Nuclear Agriculture (focusing on Mutation Breeding and Plant Biotechnology). Interested in communication and improving food security. Loves writing and pop music.




Chris Barbey is a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Florida and is active in public science engagement in biotechnology. Chris researches novel genes for improved flavor and aroma in strawberry and is a frequent guest-host for the Talking Biotech Podcast.




Shannon Barry is a master’s student in nematology at the University of Florida. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in agricultural communications & journalism, with a specialization in horticulture, and a minor in plant pathology from Kansas State University and enjoys science communication and outreach.




Vijaya Batthula is a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University (Adrienne Roeder’s lab) and is interested in science, science communication, photography, and travel.





Haritha Bollinedi is a scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute who studies in genetics, genomics and molecular biology with special emphasis on rice grain quality and biofortification. Haritha enjoys science communication, listening to music and spending time with her son.




Matias Dominguez is an Agricultural Engineer working in sunflower breeding and genomics. Matias is doing his PhD thesis on the development of a MAGIC population in sunflower. He works at the National Institute for Agriculture Research in Pergamino, Buenos Aires, Argentina and it very interested in plant sciences, molecular breeding and genomics.




Caroline Dowling is a plant genetics PhD candidate at University College Dublin, Ireland. She loves coffee, discussing cool science, and snapping photos as an amateur photographer while she travels the world.




Katy Dunning is a Canadian grad student studying how the plant immune system is regulated biochemically. She loves alt-rock music, vegetarian cooking, and ranting about the importance of bananas.





Catherine Freed is PhD Biochemistry student at Virginia Tech. My main focus is studying how plants perceive and respond to phosphate intracellularly. Catherine is a former ASPB Conviron Scholar and is interested in science communication and outreach.




Vanika Garg is a Postdoctoral Associate  at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India. She is a computational genomics researcher with keen interest in improving the productivity of legume crops.




Hari Gowthem G is a PhD Scholar at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, India whose doctoral research is on pre-breeding for tomato leaf curl disease tolerance using genomics. In addition to research, he is interested in teaching, photography, and traveling.




Benjamin Jin is currently a research assistant in Dr. Sue Rhee’s lab in the Plant Biology Department of the Carnegie Institute for Sciences. I am professionally interested in applying molecular/cellular biology techniques towards a whole-organismal-physiology/ecological context, currently doing so in Arabidopsis, but am broadly interested in the best methods in which this knowledge can be communicated to different audiences.




Yun-Ting Kao is a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Maryland. She loves listening to science podcasts with her favorite Taiwanese tea.





Veda Krishnan is a Nutritional biochemist working in the field of metabolic engineering in legumes and cereals and is currently working as Research Scientist at ICAR – Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, India. Veda describes herself as Unique, Creative and Inquisitive.




Rachelle Lapham is a a research scientist in cell biology at Calyxt, Inc., a company in Roseville, MN which leverages plant genome editing to tackle problems of nutrition and sustainability in our food supply. Rachelle finished her Ph.D in August 2019 at Purdue University in Plant Molecular Biology and Biochemistry specializing in Agrobacterium-mediated plant genetic transformation.




Alvaro Larran is a Postdoctoral Fellow currently working on plant miRNA biogenesis and activity. Previously, he has extensively worked in herbicide resistance evolution in weeds and in second-generation biofuel production. He is passionate about teaching and science communication.




Jesus Leon is a PhD student in plant biotechnology.  Jesus loves playing ultimate frisbee, music, reading, and rock climbing.





Yawei Li is pursuing a PhD in Dr. Schnable’s Lab at Iowa State University. Yawei’s research focuses on developing high throughput phenotype pipelines to determine the relationships between genotypes and phenotypes. Yawei enjoys traveling and watching dramas in the theatre.




Huyu Liu is a graduate student at Iowa State University. She enjoys the beauty of nature and loves reading and figure skating.





Sally Mallowa is an educator at Augustana University; cassava specialist and plant pathologist. She is passionate about issues of food security, gender, and education. Excited to grow as a science communication and outreach ambassador. #IYPH2020.




Ananya Mukherjee is a Postdoctoral Associate studying small RNA (sRNA) silencing mechanisms in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in Heriberto Cerutti’s lab in University of Nebraska Lincoln. She loves interviewing scientists and writing about science. In her free time, she bakes and cuddles with her cat Ginny Weasley.




Pavithran Narayanan is a PhD student at the University of Delhi, India. Passionate about reading, writing and discussing anything related to plant science. Loves calcium more than any other element on the periodic table!




Tatsuya Nobori is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Salk Institute. He is studying plant-microbe interactions using single-cell technologies.





Carlos A. Ordóñez-Parra is a master’s student studying Plant Biology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil). Interested in seed science as a tool to study natural regeneration and better inform restoration and conservation practices in tropical ecosystems.




Michela Osnato is a Postdoctoral Associate at Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), Barcelona (SPAIN). She is interested in plant adaptation to the environment. Beside the bench, she’s passionate about communicating Plant Science using photography and visual charts. Michela is quite active on Instagram/Facebook as @secretlifeofaplantbiologist




Christiana Owolabi is an Assistant Lecturer and PhD student in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Management, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nigeria. She is a member of the Horticultural Society of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, United Kingdom. She is passionate about aesthetics that add value to urban cities and communities.




Kathryn Parsley is a PhD candidate at the University of Memphis, specializing in plant blindness and botanical literacy in biology education research. When she’s not busy with research, writing, or tweeting about plant blindness (@KateParsley_) you can usually find her reading a good book or working on a blog post (




Sunita Pathak is a Research Associate at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. She loves learning new scientific approaches and also traveling to various places.





Elisandra Pradella is an Independent Researcher. She loves learning about plants and taking photos of flowers and landscapes.





Daniela Ramos Cruz is a PhD student at Gregor Mendel Institute in Vienna. She is fascinated by plant-environment interactions and loves to dance and swim in the Danube.





Arun Shanker is a Principal Scientist studying Plant Physiology with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture in Hyderabad, India. He is currently working on a systems biology approach to study the mechanism of abiotic stress tolerance in crops. His main research focus is to unravel the mechanism of drought and heat stress response in plants to tackle climate change-related threats in agriculture.




Jawon Song studies genetics and epigenetics for plant biology using bioinformatics workflows on supercomputing systems at Texas Advanced Computing Center. Jawon works primarily on supporting biologists in both developing analytic methods for biological data and teaching students how to use HPC for routine genomics pipeline.




Weijia Su is a PhD candidate at Iowa State University.  Weijia’s research focuses on bioinformatics pipeline development and comparative genomics.  Specifically, her PhD projects are focused on analyzing the mechanisms and impacts of plant transposable elements.  In addition to research, she loves traveling, reading and watching sports games.




Frej Tulin is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution working on cell cycle regulation in plants and algae. He is also working on improving his ping-pong game.




Jialu Wei is a graduate student at Iowa State University. Jialu is interested in maize genetics, systems biology, and transcriptomics.





Sienna Wessel is a master’s student of Botany at the University of Wyoming studying plant communities, restoration/conservation, functional traits, and global change ecology. She loves writing and speaking about plants and botanizing all over the West.




Min May Wong is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, interested in abiotic stress response in plants




Sophie Young is a PhD student at Lancaster University researching photosynthesis in trees. In her free time, she enjoys rowing on the River Lune.





Zihao Zheng is a PhD candidate at Iowa State University where he studies Genetics, Genomics, and Plant Phenomics.