Meet the Team

Principal Investigators
David Braun
David Braun, Co-PI
Specialty: Plant genetics

Education: BA, Biology, University of California

PhD, Biology, University of Missouri

Post-doctoral fellow, University of California-Berkeley

Grant role: To characterize genes that function to deliver sugars to roots. In particular, we want to understand which sugar metabolism and transport processes are increased to provision more carbohydrate resources to roots under drought to enable their continued growth and soil exploration.

Felix Fritschi
Felix Fritschi, Co-PI
Specialty: Crop physiology

Education: Ing. HTL, Crop Science, Swiss College of Agriculture, Switzerland

MS, Agronomy, University of Florida

PhD, Plant Biology, University of California-Davis

Grant role: To characterize nodal root growth in response to water deficit stress under field conditions. Coordinate field experiments conducted in the drought simulator and ensure integration of field and model system activities.

Trupti Joshi
Trupti Joshi, Co-PI
Specialty: Translational bioinformatics and multi-omics data integration

Education: Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, University of Pune

MS, Bioinformatics, University of Tennessee

PhD, Bioinformatics, University of Missouri

Grant role: To enable bioinformatics capabilities for data management, creating informatic data analysis pipelines, managing multi-omics data integration methods, overseeing the grant database, and generating hypotheses and testing informatics techniques.

Mel Oliver
Mel Oliver, Co-PI
Specialty: Biochemical genetics/metabolomics

Education: BS, Joint Honors in Applied Biology, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, North East London Polytechnic

MS, Biochemical Genetics, University of Calgary, Alberta

PhD, Plant Biochemistry, University of Calgary, Alberta

Grant role: To coordinate metabolomic experiments (external and in-house) hormone analyses, perform sequencing of the FR697 genome, assist transcriptomics, and liaise with the bioinformatic integration of data.

Scott Peck
Scott Peck, Co-PI
Specialty: Study changes in proteins and protein modifications to understand how plants respond to environment stresses

Education: BA, Biology, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI

PhD, Botany and Plant Pathology Department, MSU-DOE Plant

Grant role: To examine changes in the protein composition of the plasma membrane using mass spectrometry to identify proteins that may contribute to improved root growth during low water availability.

Bob Sharp
Bob Sharp, PI
Specialty: Water stress and root growth physiology

Education: BS, Biological Sciences, Lancaster University, UK

PhD, Plant Physiology, Lancaster University, UK

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of California, Davis

Grant role: To characterize nodal root growth responses and associated physiological analyses using the split-root model system under controlled environment conditions. Coordinate model system experiments for multi-omics sample collection, and oversee integration of project activities.

Jon Stemmle
Jon Stemmle, Co-PI
Specialty: Science communication

Education: BA, Communication and History, Virginia Wesleyan University

MA, Journalism, University of Arizona

Grant role: To lead the effort to communicate activities and findings related to the grant to the public by working with the grant team and leading a group of journalism students to create videos, stories and other materials all using plain language.

Graduate, Post-Doctoral Students and Research Specialists
Nick Baert
Nick Baert
Specialty: Plant stress biology

Education: BS, Crop and soil science, Illinois State University

Cheyenne Becker
Cheyenne Becker
Specialty: Agriculture based field studies

Education: BS, Agronomy, Kansas State University

Laura Greeley
Laura Greeley
Specialty: Proteomics

Education: BS, Biochemistry and minor in Mathematics, Misericordia University

PhD, Biochemistry with a minor in Biotechnology, North Carolina State University

Shannon King
Shannon King
Specialty: Field biochemistry

Education: BS, Biochemistry with a minor in Agronomy, Northwest Missouri State University

Tyler McCubbin
Tyler McCubbin
Specialty: Biochemistry of responses to abiotic stresses

Education: BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California-Davis

MS, Plant Biology, University of California-Davis

Sid Sidharth
Sidharth Sen
Specialty: Bioinformatics – RNA-seq Analysis, Data Integration, and Multiomics

Education: B.Tech, Bioinformatics, Dr.D.Y.Patil University, India
M.Res, Computational Biology, University of York, UK

Shuai Zeng
Shuai Zeng
Specialty: Computer Science – Big database, deep learning and machine learning.

Education: BS, Computer Science, Zhuhai College of Jilin University, China

Journalism Students
Marlee Baldridge
Specialty: Multimedia Storytelling

Education: BJ Entrepreneurial Journalism, BA English, University of Missouri

Currently pursuing MA in Media Business Sociology

Sydney Schack
Specialty: Strategic Communication

Education: BJ Journalism, Business Minor, University of Missouri


Michelle Lumpkins
Specialty: Public Relations

Education: BJ Strategic Communications, University of Missouri

Grant Alumni
Riley Steinbrecher
Specialty: Strategic Communication

Education: Pursuing Journalism Bachelor’s degree, University of Missouri

Kathryn Cawdrey
Kathryn Cawdrey
Specialty: Environmental Reporting and Conservation Biology

Education: BJ, University of Missouri

Rachel Mertz
Rachel Mertz
Specialty: Maize genetics and biochemistry of plant cell walls

Education: BS, Plant Biology, Purdue University

PhD, Plant Molecular Biology, Cornell University

Nicole Niehues
Nicole Niehues
Specialty: Soils in agriculture

Education: BS, Environmental Studies, University of Kansas

MS, Solis and Biochemistry, University of California-Davis

Jacqueline Olson
Jacqueline Olson
Specialty: Strategic Communication

Education: BJ, University of Missouri