Recognizing Plant Direct first author Liza Esther Alexander

Dr. Liza Esther Alexander, first author of High spatial resolution imaging of the dynamics of cuticular lipid deposition during Arabidopsis flower development


Current Position: Associate Scientist I, Kemin Industries Inc, Des Moines, Iowa

Education: Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (Iowa State University), M.Sc in Biotechnology (Mahatma Gandhi University)

Non-scientific Interests: Photography, Travelling, Music, and Gardening

Brief biography: Trials of witnessing my sibling scaling through cancer and bone marrow transplant inspired me to go into research. I have had the opportunity to study plant related sciences, and human diseases and their treatments, all fueled by a keen interest in metabolic pathways and more broadly by their social and economic impacts. The deep thirst for the vast unknown drove me to obtain my Ph.D. from Iowa State University (ISU) under the mentorship of Dr. Basil J. Nikolau, where I delved into the field of plant lipid metabolism and analytical mass spectrometry methodologies. My Ph.D work focused on specific genes, namely maize Glossy2 and Glossy2-like, from the uncharacteracterized Clade-II class of BAHD acyltransferase enzymes that have roles in cuticular lipid depositions. Using advanced mass spectrometry driven technologies, we drew new insights into the intricacies of the cuticular lipid metabolic network using single Arabidopsis flowers. Following my Ph.D I joined Dr. Reuben Peter’s group as an ISU Bioscience Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow focusing on structure-function relationship of specific cytochromes P450 enzymes that play key roles in the biosynthesis of gibberellins, a group of secondary metabolites largely produced by plants. With an interest in the application aspect of metabolism I transitioned from the academic scenario to R&D within Kemin industry as an Associate Scientist where my project focuses on enzyme discovery with applications in health, food and feed.