Plant Team

The Plant Team’s activities are directed toward understanding the correlations of plant genotypes and phenotypes with the environment and the impacts of changes in temperature and water availability on plant productivity. The team is achieving this goal by developing and using high-throughput phenotyping technologies, algorithms, and analytics that will associate genotypes and phenotypes with environmental variation.

The research addresses both above- and below-ground plant physiology and spans multiple scales of imaging and remote sensing, from close proximity imaging of plants at the single leaf, to medium-scale imaging of individual plants (in both the field and controlled environments), to large-scale remote imaging of plants and populations (field environments).

In collaboration with the Climate and Cyberinfrastructure Teams, the Plant Team will be integrating high-resolution, high-throughput phenotype and genotype (-omics) data with climate data to model varying environmental cues on plant productivity.

Research Aims

  1. Identify genes that confer drought tolerance and improve yields in crops.
  2. Develop and deploy imaging and remote-sensing technologies to understand plant response to environmental variation.
  3. Monitor plant health, growth and responses to the environment with remote optical sensing.
  4. Associate phenotypes with genotypes and environments and model plant productivity in changing environments.

Plant Team Lead

Dr. Todd Mockler
Dr. Todd Mockler is an Associate Member and Distinguished Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Dr. Mockler has expertise in genomics, bioinformatics, gene regulatory mechanisms, and environmental responses in plants. His research group is a major developer of imaging and data analysis required for high-throughput image-based plant phenotyping. Dr. Mockler shares responsibility for the overall strategy and execution of the work proposed for the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

Plant Team Members

Ruthie Angelovici
Dr. Ruthie Angelovici is Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at MU. She is a new faculty hire funded by Missouri Transect, beginning in Fall 2015. Her research is in the genetic and metabolic control of seed amino acids' composition.
Mikhail Berezin
Dr. Mikhail Berezin is Assistant Professor of Radiology at Washington University. He is an expert in optical spectroscopy and optical imaging of biological tissues. He is a member of the Plant Team and collaborates with the CI Team.
Joel Burken
Dr. Joel Burken is Professor of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at MS&T. He works on UAV-based imaging--both RGB and multispectral--on the Plant Team.
ZhiQiang Chen
Dr. ZhiQiang Chen is an Associate Professor in the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering. He is the PI on a seed grant funded by the Missouri Transect. His expertise are in soil-structure systems and multihazard life-cycle analysis, physical modeling and dynamic system identification, remote sensing and geoinformatics, digital imaging and machine vision for disaster scene understanding, crowdsourcing design for emergency response, and collaborative mobile-cloud computing.
Guilherme DeSouza
Dr. Gui DeSouza is Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MU and an expert in visual sensor networks and robotics. His lab designed and deployed ground robots in maize and soy fields in collaboration with Felix Fritschi's research group.
Flavio Esposito
Dr. Flavio Esposito was awarded a Missouri EPSCoR Seed Grant for August 1, 2017-July 31, 2018 period. He will be working with Dr. Sagan, Plant Team member, to design and implement data management architecture to help integrate and share data among Missouri Transect research. Dr. Esposito is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at SLU. His research centers mainly on networked systems, especially "network virtualization, network management, Software-Defined Networks (SDN), network architectures and wireless networks."
Felix Fritschi
Dr. Felix Fritschi is Associate Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at MU. His research focuses on field-based phenotyping of maize, development of phenotyping under field conditions using robotics, and physiological characterizations relevant to link plant responses to high-throughput methods of phenotyping. He is collaborating with Gui DeSouza on ground-platform imaging and with Jim Peterson on aerial-platform imaging.
Malia Gehan
Dr. Malia Gehan is an Assistant Member of the Danforth Center in St. Louis. She is a systems biologist that focuses on improving resistance to stress in plants. Dr. Gehan is a new faculty hire, with her start-up funds provided by the Missouri Transect program.
Vasit Sagan
Dr. Vasit Sagan (a.k.a. Wasit Wulamu) is Assistant Professor of Geographic Information Science in the Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University. He received a Missouri Transect seed grant in August 2015 to develop new methods for monitoring crop growth and management using UAS technology.
Alice Tipton
Dr. Alice Tipton joined the Science, Technology, and Mathematics Department at Lincoln University as Assistant Professor in January 2018. She will receive start-up funds from Missouri EPSCoR and will be collaborating with the Plant Team.
Chris Topp
Dr. Chris Topp is an Assistant Member at the Danforth Center. His lab uses a phenomics approach to study crop root growth dynamics in response to environmental stress such as drought. He works closely with the Mockler Lab in root phenotyping in controlled environments.
Zhaozheng Yin
Dr. Zhaozheng Yin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at MS&T. He works on the robotic platform to capture image data on plants indoors and outdoors and image analysis algorithms to monitor the growth process of plants.
Xiong Zhang
Dr. Xiong Zhang is a new faculty hire at MS&T. He is an Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Zhang’s research interests include remote sensing for geo-engineering applications, geothermal and ground source heat pump systems, soil stabilization and ground improvement, and frozen ground engineering.

Staff, Postdocs, and Students

Gabriela Akrap
Andrew Allee
Andrew Allee is a student at Lincoln University working with Dr. Alice Tipton.
Keeandra Archambault
Kee Archambault is a Lab Assistant working in Dr. Todd Mockler's lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Sameer Aryal
(1) participating in the MO DIRT citizen soil science; and (2) working with Missouri Dept of Conservation on the prairie prescribed fire sensing using the hyperspectral cameras
Tyler Bradford
Tyler Bradford is a graduate student working with Jim Peterson.
Adam Bray
Adam Bray is a PhD candidate at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center working in Dr. Chris Topp's lab.
Yen Chan
Yen On Chan is a Lab Assistant working in Dr. Ruthie Angelovici's lab at MU.
Logan Duncan
Logan Duncan is a Lab Technician in Dr. Todd Mockler's lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Nathanael Ellis
Dr. Nathanael Ellis is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center working in Dr. Chris Topp's lab.
Marianne Emery
Marianne Emery is a PhD candidate in Plant Sciences at MU working with Dr. Ruthie Angelovici.
Liang Han
Liang Han is a PhD student at MS&T doing research with Dr. Zhaozheng Yin on the Plant Team.
Sean Hartling
Sean Hartling is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Applied Sciences program (Environmental Sciences and GIS track) in the Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University. He is working in Dr. Vasit Sagan's lab on the Missouri Transect seed grant studying UAS technologies.
Samuel Holden
Lakshmi Kona
Benjamin Laws
Benjamin Laws is a Laboratory Technician in Dr. Chris Topp's lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Chenhui Li
Dr. Chenhui Li is a Postdoctoral Fellow collecting data on soil microbial ecosystems in native prairies at Tucker Prairie. Dr. Li works with Dr. Fritschi on the Plant Team, Dr. Veum with USDA-ARS, and Dr. Goyne on the Climate Team.
Haohan Li
Haohan Li is a PhD student at MS&T doing research with Dr. Zhaozheng Yin on the Plant Team.
Zongyang Li
Zongyang Li is a Senior Computational Scientist working in Dr. Todd Mockler's lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Mason Maimaitijiang
Maitiniyazi Maimaitijiang is an MS student in Geographic Information Science program in the Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University. He is working in Dr. Vasit Sagan's lab on the Missouri Transect seed grant studying crop responses to climate change using field, UAS and satellite based remote sensing technologies.
Paul Manley
Paul Manley is a PhD student working with Dr. Joel Burken on the Plant Team at MS&T.
Haley Massa
FRIPS student in Biochemistry (Dr. Scott Peck)
Kyle Peterson
Kyle Peterson is a MS student in Geographic Information Science program in the Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University. He is working in the Wulamu lab on the Missouri Transect seed grant studying crop responses to climate change using field, UAS and satellite based remote sensing technologies.
Jim Peterson
Dr. Jim Peterson is a technical expert in UAV piloting working at Missouri University of Science and Technology with Joel Burken on the Plant Team. His role is image collection using an Unmanned Aircraft Systems and will provide training for other Missouri Transect researchers and students working on UAV technology. He is Co-PI on the Missouri Transect seed grant led by Dr. Goerndt to monitor and model plant response to climate change using UAS technology.
Rahel Pommerenke
Wenping Qiu
Dr. Wenping Qiu is Research Professor and Director of the Center for Grapevine Biotechnology at MSU. He is Co-PI on the Missouri Transect seed grant led by Dr. Goerndt to monitor and model plant response to climate change using UAS technology.
Anton Sax
Haley Schuhl
Computational Scientist at the Danforth Science Center in the Bioinformatics Core Facility. She will work with Noah Fahlgren on the CI Team in Plant Imaging.
Ali Shafiekhani
Ali Shafiekhani is a PhD candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at MU. He works with Gui DeSouza on the Plant Team to design and operate the field-based robot.
Kiana Shahverdi
Kiana Shahverdi is a Research Assistant working with Dr. Mikhail Berezin at Washington University in St. Louis.
Nadia Shakoor
Dr. Nadia Shakoor is a Research Manager at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in the Mockler Lab. She is leading greenhouse phenotyping using the Lemnatec system.
Prativa Sharma
Prativa Sharma is PhD student at UMKC working with Dr. ZhiQiang Chen.
Paheding Sidike
Dr. Paheding Sidike is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at SLU and works in Dr. Vasit Sagan's lab.
Natalie Spies
Natalie Spies is a Lab Assistant working in Dr. Todd Mockler's lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Deaven Sronce
Deaven Sronce is a Lab Assistant working in Dr. Todd Mockler's lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Shimin Tang
Shimin Tang is a PhD student in Electrical and Computing Engineering at UMKC and works with Dr. ZhiQiang Chen.
Steven Wang
Steven Wang is a Research Assistant working with Dr. Mikhail Berezin at Washington University in St. Louis.
Abou Yobi
Dr. Abou Yobi joined Angelovici Lab at MU in 2016 as Lab Manager. Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Plant Sciences at MU and USDA-ARS.
Tianyi Zhao
Tianyi Zhao is a PhD student at MS&T working with Dr. Zhaozheng Yin.
Haiying Zhou
Dr. Haiying Zhou is a Postdoctoral Scientist in the Berezin Lab at Washington University in St. Louis. She is using hyperspectral imaging to detect plant health in early stages of biotic and abiotic stresses.