Plant Physiology Spotlights February 2024 First Authors

Behind the Plant Physiology manuscripts are researchers, professors, professionals and students dedicated to advancing the field of plant science. You’ve seen our First Authors on Twitter and Facebook— now, read more about why they chose to pursue plant sciences and click on the links below the pictures to read their articles.

Nils Rugen

Nils Rugen (he/his) is the First Author of Deep proteomics reveals incorporation of unedited proteins into mitochondrial protein complexes in Arabidopsis published 07 December 2023. He is a PostDoc at the Institute of Plant Genetics, Leibniz University Hannover .His education backgrounds includes a 2019 PhD Biology at Leibniz University Hannover ; 2015 MSc Biomedicine at Hannover Medical School; and a  2013 BSc Biology at University of Göttingen. Research interests include Plant Mitochondria, RNA Editing, Plant Proteomics, Protein Complexes. Personal interests include Running, Video Games, and the Video Game Industry in general.

Rugen originally wanted to work in infection research. Then, he discovered mass spectrometry and somehow ended up in plant proteomics. And that’s where he wants to stay!


Yang Bai

Yang Bai is the First Author of AGAMOUS-LIKE24 controls pistil number in Japanese apricot by targeting the KNOTTED1-LIKE gene KNAT2/6-a published 12 February 2024. She is currently Assistant Professor at Nanjing Agricultural University. Education background includes a 2023 Ph.D Horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University and a 2017 MAg in  Forestry at Inner Mongolia. Research interests include Molecular Biology, Pistil Development. Personal interests include Traveling, reading and badminton. Bai has been interested in biology and chemistry since she was a kid.



Qingling Zhang

Qingling Zhang (she/her) is the First Author of Conserved transcription factors NRZ1 and NRM1 regulate NLR receptor–mediated immunity. Zhang is currently an Assistant Researcher at Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Jiangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Her education background includes a 2023 Ph.D Agriculture at Huazhong Agricultural University. Research interests including plant-virus interactions, disease resistance/immunity – hypersensitive response. Personal interests include running and painting.




Haruka Tanimoto 

Haruka Tanimoto (he/him) is the First Author of Gene expression and metabolite levels converge in the thermogenic spadix of skunk cabbage published 2 February 2024.  He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at United Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Iwate University. He holds a 2021 MSc from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Iwate University, and a 2019 BSc from Iwate University. Research interests include Plant thermogenesis, Cold responses, and Bioinformatics. Personal interests include Computer programming.




Min Zhou

Min Zhou (he/his) is the FIrst Author of Transcription factors VviWRKY10 and VviWRKY30 co-regulate powdery mildew resistance in grapevine published 15 February 2024. He is a PhD at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Education background includes a 2023 MSc in Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University and a 2020 BSc in Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University. Personal interests include Plant disease resistance, Plant development. Research interests include Running, Badminton. Uncovering the way plants communicate fascinates Zhou.



Xingli Li

Xingli Li is the First Author of Heat stress at the bicellular stage inhibits sperm cell development and their transport into pollen tubes published 15 February 2024. Li is a Postdoctoral Scholar at The Ohio State University. Li’s education background includes a 2023 Ph.D, University of Regensburg; a 2017, MSc, China Agricultural University; and a 2015, BSc, China Agricultural University. Research interests include Abiotic stress, Plant reproduction, Maize. Personal interests include Hiking, Swimming.

After Li received a Bachelor’s degree, guided by Prof. Shaojiang Chen at China Agricultural University, Li received a foundational research training and decided to choose maize as the focal point for continued exploration. During Li’s PhD, under the mentorship of Dr. Kevin Begcy and Prof. Dr. Thomas Dresselhaus, Li studied the maize responses to heat stress during pollen development. Li found different impacts of heat stress on maize pollen of particular developmental stages, resulting in seedset reduction. Further investigations revealed PMII was hindered by heat stress during the bicellular stage, as well as the sperm cells traveling during fertilization, both leading to failed fertilization, precipitating a decline in yield. Numerous questions regarding crop responses to abiotic stresses persist. Li is dedicated to conducting study in this area.

Sijia Chen 

Sijia Chen (she/her) is the First Author of Far-red light-enhanced apical dominance stimulates flower and fruit abortion in sweet pepper published 15 February 2024. Chen is a PhD candidate at Horticulture and Product Physiology group, Wageningen University and Research. Education background includes 2019 MSc in Plant Sciences (Greenhouse Horticulture) at Wageningen University and Research and a 2017 BSc in Biological Sciences at Nankai University. Research interests include Plant eco-physiology. Personal interests include Gardening, playing badminton, and cooking. Chen loves growing plants and producing vegetables at home!



Daisuke Tezuka

Daisuke Tezuka (he/him) is the First Author of Redirecting Barley Breeding for Grass Production Through Genome Editing of Photoperiod-H1 published 16 February 2024. Tezuka is a Researcher at National Agriculture and Food Research Organization. Education background includes: 2019 Ph.D Agricultural Science Hokkaido University’ 2016 MSc Agricultural Science Hokkaido University; 2014 BSc Bioscience and Biochemistry Hokkaido University. Research interests include Genome editing, and Disease resistance, Plant hormones. Personal interests include Driving and Skiing.



Maria Teresa Domínguez Lobo 

Maria Teresa Domínguez Lobo (she/her) is the First Author of Double blocking of carbon metabolism causes large increase of Calvin-Benson cycle compounds in cyanobacteria published 20 February 2024.She is a Master’s student in Environmental, Industrial and Food Biotechnology. Education background includes a  2023-present day Masters in Environmental, Industrial and Food Biotechnology at the University of Pablo Olavide. From 2017-2021, she earned a Degree in Chemistry from the University of Seville.

Lobo has been interested in understanding life from a molecular perspective since she was a child. She has always been fascinated by the study of life at the microscopic level and from a metabolic perspective. A degree in Chemistry, backed by a solid academic background, has been the foundation on which she built a passion for biotechnological research. During academic experience and research projects, she had the opportunity to explore the complexities of the interaction between chemical compounds and biological processes, awakening a fascination for the essential role that bacteria play in numerous aspects of biology, and the capacity of living beings to adapt to changes in their environment. Thanks to the group in which Maria Teresa Domínguez Lobo developed this investigation, this first author discovered a real interest in the study of living organisms such as cyanobacteria, bacteria capable of photosynthesis whose metabolism impressed her. She would love to continue my research on them, as she sees a great potential in them to make great biotechnological discoveries. Personally, she loves to travel around the world and learn about other cultures and ways of life.  She is excited to learn new things every day and enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, walking on the beach and in the mountains.

Her interest in plant science began when she started studying biochemistry in high school and she has always tried to stay close to see if it was really for her. Today, thanks to a mentor, Maria Isabel Muro Pastor, Lobo has learned a lot about genetics, metabolism and laboratory work.

Mary Paz González García

Mary Paz González García is the First Author of Synthetically derived BiAux modulates auxin co-receptor activity to stimulate lateral root formation published 20 February 2024. González García is an Assistant Professor at  UPM (Spain). Education background includes: 2005 Ph.D in Biology at USAL (Spain); a 2002 MSc in Enzymology and Metabolic Regulation at USAL (Spain); and a 1999 BSc of Biological Sciences at USAL (Spain). Research interests include Plant Molecular Biology, Plant Hormone, Root development, Cell-type transcriptome, Stem-cells, Telomeres, Abiotic stress, Climate change. Personal interests include Spending time with family and friends, flamenco dancing, architecture, and traveling.

García’s love for plant science was nurtured by her grandmother, who instilled in her a deep appreciation for the intricacies of the plant world. Her parents further emphasized the vital connection between plants and life itself. Throughout her scientific career, she has been fortunate to have outstanding mentors who have guided and inspired. Their support has been instrumental in shaping her research journey, and she is grateful for the opportunities to explore the fascinating role that plants play in our world.

Zachery Shomo  

Zachery Shomo (he/his) is the First Author of All Members of the Arabidopsis DGAT and PDAT Acyltransferase Families Operate During High and Low Temperatures published 22 February 2024. He is a Graduate Research Assistant at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Education background includes a 2024 Ph.D. in Biochemistry at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a 2018 BSc in Biochemistry at Allegheny College. Research interests are Lipid metabolism, membrane remodeling, freezing tolerance. Personal interests are Baking, Reading, Traveling, and Gardening.

Shomo is fascinated by plant biology because Plants are the ultimate biochemists; they synthesize complex metabolites and remodel membranes to adapt to environments across the globe.


Lisa Oskam

Lisa Oskam (she/her) is the First Author of A low-cost open-source imaging platform reveals spatiotemporal insight into leaf elongation and movement published 24 February 2024. She is a PhD Candidate at Utrecht University. Education background includes a 2018 MSc Biological Sciences at University of Amsterdam and a 2016 BSc Biology at University of Amsterdam. Research interests include Plant adaptation and plant development. Personal interests include cycling and reading.


Robert Maple 

Robert Maple (he/him) is the First Author of Flowering time: from physiology, through genetics to mechanism published 28 February 2024. Maple is a postdoctoral scientist. His education background includes a 2019 Ph.D Life sciences at the University of Warwick and a 2014 BSc at Swansea University. Research interests include gene environment interactions, transcription and chromatin. Personal interests include brewing, fitness and hiking.

How did Maple become interested in plant science?

“Plants are complex organisms essential for nutrition, health, and the environment. They are fantastic at fine-tuning their development to the environment they grow and so plants are the perfect model to understand the impact of the environment on genes and the developmental programs they underlie. Take flowering as an example. Plants integrate countless signals such as temperature and light oscillations over short and long time scales (hours, days and months) to predict the optimum time to flower and ultimately to regulate genes determining meristem identity. Understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying this gene environment interaction are key to predicting how plants will cope and adapt with changing climates in the future and sustain agricultural demands.”

Pan Zhu

Pan Zhu (she/her) is the First Author of Flowering time: from physiology, through genetics to mechanism published 28 February 2024. Zhu is an Assistant Professor at Westlake University.She holds a 2017 Ph.D Plant Biology from Peking University and a 2012 BSc Agronomy from China Agriculture University. Research interests include Plant development, Temperature sensing, Transcription, RNA processing, Nuclear organization. Personal interests include Badminton.

Zhu’s PhD supervisors are Dr. Danmeng Zhu and Prof. Xing Wang Deng. From 2017-2024, she did my postdoctoral study in Caroline Dean’s group at John Innes Center. During the past 12 years, she has dived into molecular mechanisms that plants use to sense environmental signals.