August 16, 2017

ROP position available in auxin biosynthesis in primitive plants

An ROP research position is currently available in my lab for a motivated undergraduate UTM student interested in plant metabolism. This project deals with the origin of auxin biosynthesis in land plants. To study this, we are looking at the Charophyte Chara vulgaris, the modern day descendant of the earliest known line which gave rise to land plants. As a Charophyte algae, Chara is an aquatic primitive plant, and there is some controversy as to how it makes auxin phytohormones. It is also unclear as to whether land plants acquired this ability from Charophytes or evolved this ability independently later on during plant evolution.

For these reasons, Chara is a useful system to study this question. In general, the origin of phytohormones in plants is a fundamental area of plant biology research, and this project holds great potential for producing significant discoveries.

What this project will involve for students: you will learn cultivation techniques for maintaining aquatic plants, molecular techniques for measuring transcript abundance by quantitative PCR, and organic extraction techniques for preparing samples for analysis. This is a student project focused on benchwork, but you must also be good at record keeping, be a detail oriented person, and have good communication skills in order to effectively present experimental data at lab meeting and conferences.

Interested students should contact me at

Starting dates: This project is scheduled to begin in the winter 2018 semester. Alternatively, if you still have space in your schedule, you can also begin this fall.

Chara vulgaris

August 15, 2017

Undergraduate research: Come visit the 2017 SmartiGras Thursday, Aug 16 on the UTM campus

The Research Opportunity Program is UTM's most successful and popular undergraduate career development program. It places undergraduates in a research environment for a semester and gives them first hand experience in laboratory research, project management, and practical training for a scientific career in academia or industry.

This Thursday, UTM undergraduates will showcase their summer research projects at the annual SmartiGras, a one day conference with talks and posters. The subjects are broad and reflective of the diverse research at UTM, and Biology is especially well represented.

Two members from the Phillips lab, Ibadat Bajwa and Haniya Adnan, will present posters on their summer projects. If you are around this Thursday and want to see what motivated undergrads can do with their summers, come check out the SmartiGras in the Instructional Building on the UTM campus this Thursday

Good luck Ibadat and Haniya!