Plant Physiology Spotlights June First Authors

In June, we published many innovative manuscripts in Plant Physiology. Behind those 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 to read their articles.

Mohammed Mira

Mohammed Mira is the First Author of Plant stem cells under low oxygen: metabolic rewiring by phytoglobin underlies stem cell functionality published 13 June 2023. Mira is currently an Associate professor at Tanta University, Egypt. Mira became captivated by plant science due to a deep curiosity about the intricate workings of nature and the essential role that plants play in sustaining life on Earth. The beauty and complexity of plants, their ability to adapt to diverse environments, and their potential for addressing global challenges like food security and climate change fueled Mira’s passion. This drove Mira to pursue higher education in plant science, to explore the fascinating world of plants, unravel their genetic mysteries, and contribute to sustainable agricultural practices.

Mira obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science from the Faculty of Science at Tanta University in Tanta, Egypt in 2005.  Following a bachelor’s degree, this first author pursued a Master of Science in Plant Breeding and Genetics from 2005 to 2010 at Tanta University. Building upon that master’s degree, Mira embarked on a Ph.D. program in Genetics and Molecular Biology from 2011 to 2015. Starting in 2020, Mira served as a Post-doctoral Fellow in Molecular Biology and Stress Physiology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. These educational experiences have equipped Mira with a diverse skill set and a comprehensive understanding of molecular biology, genetics, and their applications in agricultural and food sciences. Research interests include Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, Genetics and Plant Physiology. Personal interests include soccer.

Arif Ashraf

Arif Ashraf is the first author of A polarized nuclear position specifies the correct division plane during maize stomatal development published 10 June 2023. Ashraf is currently a Postdoc in Facette lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ashraf  received a Ph.D. from the United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences at Iwate University, Japan. Research interests include nuclear envelope proteins and their role in cell division. For instance, in this particular article, Ashraf and co-authors demonstrate that nucleus decides the future cell division site. Personal interests include indie films and documentaries. Initially, Ashraf was interested in cells. Plants provide Ashraf easy access to see cells and things happening inside the cell, and Ashraf has learned to love plants. As an undergrad, this first author worked in a hospital for a first research project, and this experience helped Ashraf to decide to start working on plants and read more about them throughout research.

Aiswarya Girija (Ash)

Aiswarya Girija (Ash) is the First Author of Cystathionine γ-synthase expression in seeds alters metabolic and DNA methylation profiles in Arabidopsis published 10 June 2023. Girija was 2023 Marie Curie Post doctoral fellow from Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK; a 2019 Post Doctoral Researcher at the Plant metabolism lab, MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute, Israel; and a 2017 Ph.D in Biotechnology, Kerala University, India

Born and raised in India from a young age Girija was fascinated by plants, agriculture, and farming. After finishing a PhD in Biotechnology (2017, Kerala University, India) Girija joined as a post-doctoral researcher in the Plant metabolism group of Prof. Rachel Amir at MIGAL Galilee Research Institute, Israel. Within the Amir group, Girija was involved in studying the impact of increasing the nutritional content especially methionine and protein in Arabidopsis seeds using metabolomics and transcriptomics approaches. The current publication is part of this project where Girija and co-authors found that increasing methionine in Arabidopsis seeds could eventually reprogram the gene-metabolite status which could lead to methylation events. This first author’s current research interests are to explore the biochemical behaviour of crops (Oats) using metabolomics to uncover the relevant nutritional and stress resilience traits related to its adaptive mechanism.

Coming from India, Girija was always fascinated by the diversity of crops and their ability to survive in different environments. This led towards a passion towards plant science and after obtaining a Ph.D from India, Girjia wanted to pursue a profession as a plant biologist.

During Post-doctoral work in MIGAL, Galilee research institute in Israel, Girija got the opportunity to understand the relationship of plant stress and nutrition. This led to a Marie Curie project where Girija worked on an African resilient crop, Teff, in exploring the nutritional and stress resilience traits using various omics approaches. Girija‘s curiosity for plant science is impacted by past supervisors and researchers, which has led this first author to contribute to plant science research by finding solutions to global future food security and climate challenges.

Wenjun Zhu

Wenjun Zhu is the First Author of Low-temperature-induced regulatory network rewiring via WRKY regulators during banana peel browning published 04 June 2023. Zhu is currently a PhD student in the College of Life Sciences at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. Zhu holds a master’s degree from Ningbo University, in Ningbo, China. Research interests include structural analysis of biological macromolecules, deciphering the 3D structure of key regulatory factors in the transcription process using X-ray, and plant functional genomics. Personal interests include playing badminton. When Zhu feels down, beautiful flowers and trees heal the bad mood. In addition, Zhu is amazed by the indomitable growth and prosperity of plants under harsh conditions.


Ori Avraham Erlichman

Ori Avraham Erlichman is the First Author of Autophagy in maternal tissues contributes to Arabidopsis seed development  published 14 June 2023. This first author was always attracted to the beauty of nature, and mainly to those green-guys. As a biology teacher, Erlichman’s  mom provided exposure to the inner processes which motivate this beauty.  Erlichman is a PhD student in the faculty of biology in Technion, Israel. This author also holds a BSc in biology and marine biology and a MSc degree in plant biology, both from the Hebrew university in Jerusalem, Israel. Research interests include plant development and biomechanical processes. Personal interests include Erlichman’s wonderful family.


Jieyang Jin

Jieyang Jin is the First Author of (Z)-3-Hexenol integrates drought and cold stress signaling by activating abscisic acid glucosylation in tea plants published 14 June 2023.  Jin is a Ph. D candidate at Anhui Agricultural University, and previously completed a Master’s at Anhui Agricultural University and a Bachelor’s from Wuyi University. Research interests include physiological function of aroma compounds in tea plants. Personal interests include jogging. Jin loves the charming aroma of tea, wants to know how these aromas are produced and what function it has on the plant itself.



Kanchana Pandian

Kanchana Pandian is the First Author of Advances in single-cell metabolomics to unravel cellular heterogeneity in plant biology. Pandian is pursuing a PhD in Metabolomics study, after two years of experience in microfluidics research. They did a Masters thesis in a Neurobiology laboratory and hold a Bachelors and Masters in advanced Biochemistry.Research interests include vascular biology, tracer-based metabolomics, microfluidics – On-chip electrical lysis, high throughput technology and droplet microfluidics, and cancer biology. Personal interests include public scientific talks, portrait sketching, photography and music. Even though Pandian decided to continue research as a PhD on Animal Physiology, she holds Plant Biology close to her heart!


Wei Wu

Wei Wu is the First Author of Exogenous gibberellin delays maturation in persimmon fruit through transcriptional activators and repressors published 16 June 2023. Currently, Wu is a Postdoctor at Zhejiang Wanli University, College of Biological and Environmental Sciences. From 2017-2022, Wu earned a PhD from Zhejiang University. From 2013-2017, Wu earned a Bacehlor’s from Zhejiang University. Research interests include regulation mechanisms of fruit quality. Personal interests include orienteering, rock climbing, and DIYs. Wu’s mentor’s guidance plays a big part in supporting her scientific pursuits.



Shuta Asai

Shuta Asai is the First Author of Cell-specific RNA profiling reveals host genes expressed in Arabidopsis cells haustoriated by downy mildew published 12 June 2023. Asai’s goal is to contribute to solving the world’s food problems. Currently, Asai is Senior Research Scientist. Asai holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences at Nagoya University. This first author also previously received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the Faculty of Agriculture at Okayama University. Research interests include understanding molecular mechanisms of plant-pathogen interactions for crop protection, and personal interests include golf, football, sake testing, and salsa.