Director

Rod Wing

Professor of Plant Science, Director of the Center for Desert Agriculture

Associate Director

Mark Tester

Professor of Plant Science, Associate Director of the Center for Desert Agriculture

Research Interests: Salinity tolerance, Ion transport, Sustainable food production systems

Faculty

Brande Wulff

Associate Professor, Plant Science

Heribert Hirt

Professor, Plant Science

Ikram Blilou

Associate Professor, Plant Science

Magdy M. Mahfouz

Associate Professor, Bioengineering

Monika Chodasiewicz

Assistant Professor, Plant Science

Salim Al-Babili

Professor, Plant Science

Research Interests: Plant metabolic engineering, Plant hormones, Carotenoids and Apocarotenoids, Root Parasitic Plants, Plant Biotic Interactions, Small Molecules, Plant Growth Regelators

Simon Krattinger

Assistant Professor, Plant Science

Research Interests: Cereal crops, Genomics, Plant-pathogen interactions, Quantitative genetics

Center Operations Team

Anna Rautek

Center Manager

Dalia Alshahrani

Project Coordinator

Luis Fernando Rivera Serna

Senior Bioinformatics Engineer

Research Interests: Bioinformatics, Omics Tools, Machine Learning, Biological DB, HPC

Melanie Balkner Zielke

Executive Assistant

Robyn Palescandolo

Art and Graphic Design

Sadaf Umer

Lab Manager

Research Interests: Occupational health

Suja Muralidharan

Administrative Assistant

Sumaira Haque

Administrative Assistant

Research Scientists

Andrea Zuccolo

Research Scientist

Research Interests: Plant comparative genomics, Bioinformatics, Transposable elements, Evolution, Genome sequencing, Genome assembly, Genome annotation

Haroon Butt

Research Scientist

Research Interests: Genome engineering, Directed evolution, RNA splicing

Juan C. Moreno

Research Scientist

Research Interests: Carotenoids, Apocarotenoids, Plant hormones, Photosynthesis, Receptors, Signaling Molecules, Beta carotene, Biomass, Yield

Maged Saad

Senior Research Scientist

Research Interests: Personalized Desert Agriculture, Microbial breeding, Biostimulants, Microbial genetic and bacterial evaluation, Plant microbiome, Function synthetic community (Fun SynCom).

Muhammad Jamil

Research Scientist

Research Interests: Plant physiology, Agronomy, Weed biology and Ecology, Plant signaling and parasite-interactions, Phytohormoes and Biostimulants

Naganand Rayapuram

Research Scientist

Research Interests: Plant-microbe interactions, Signal transduction, MAPK signaling, Plant stress biology, Transcriptional and Translational control, Proteomics, Phosphoproteomics, SWATH-MS, Post-translational modifications of proteins, Proteogenomics

Ryan Lefers

Research Scientist

Research Interests: Food/water/energy nexus, Controlled environment agriculture, Saltwater-based agriculture, Aquaponics, Horticulture lighting, Circular agriculture system

Vanessa Melino

Research Scientist

Research Interests: Plant Physiology, Plant nutrition, Salinity tolerance, Root architecture, Ion transport, nitrogen use efficiency

Zahir Ali

Research Scientist

Research Interests: CRISPR/Cas system, Plant Genome Engineering, Virus resistance, Synthetic Biology

Research Staff

Abrar Deek

Lab Support

Research Interests: Desert agriculture research projects

Aparna Balakrishna

Research Specialist

Research Interests: Carotenoids, Carotenoid Cleavage Dioxygenase, Apocarotenoids CCD, Gene expression, Enzymatic activity

Bhagya Lakshmi Girjia

Lab Support Technician

Research Interests: Women's health, Cardiovascular & Neuro physiology

Chakravarthy Rajan

Research Specialist

Research Interests: Plant Molecular Biology, Plant Secondary Metabolites, Cell culture and Tissue culture, Plant transformation studies

Daniela Strnadova

Lab Assistant

Dinara Utarbayeva

Greenhouse Technician

Research Interests: Crossing , grafting tomatoes. Germination and propagating Coarctata rice

Gabriele Fiene

Research Specialist

Research Interests: Salinity tolerance, domestication, Field trails, Crop wild relatives

Hanna Cherviakouskaya

Research Assistant

Hongwei Ren

Greenhouse Technician

Research Interests: Salinity tolerance, Tomato

Kit Xi Liew

Research Specialist

Lamis Berqdar

Research assistant

Research Interests: Plant Science, Molecular biology and data analysis

Lila Aldakheel

Technical Assistant

Lingli Zou

Lab Support

Noha Omar Saber

Research Specialist

Research Interests: Molecular Biology, Salinity tolerance

Norhan Hassan

Research Specialist

Olga Artyukh

Laboratory technician

Rameesha M Parambil

Greenhouse technician

Safya Zaoui

Lab Technician

Shanshan Song

Research Assistant

Snehal Salmothe

Research Assistant

Trang Dinh

Lab Support

Vijayachandrik Venkataraman

Lab Techinician

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Diabetes Research, Genetics, Plant Science

Yanjun Guo

Technician of greenhouse & field

Research Interests: Phenotyping, Fonio

Yanjun Wei

Lab Technician

Yasha Zhang

Research Assistant

Research Interests: Marine ecology, Materials modeling

Postdoctoral Fellows

Abdul Aziz Eida

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: abiotic and biotic stress tolerance, DARWIN21, desert bacteria, endophytes, plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs), plant microbiome, soil microbial community, synthetic community (SynCom), Plant microbe interaction

Alice Fornasiero

Postdoctoral fellow

Research Interests: Plant genomics and evolution, Population Genetics, Bioinformatics, Genome assembly

Anamika Rawat

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Plant stress biology, Plant microbe interaction, Signal transduction

Arsheed H. Sheikh

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: plant immunity, epitranscriptome, epigenetics, plant signalling

Dongryung Lee

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Salinity tolerance

Elodie Rey

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Crops, Genomics, transcriptomics, polyploidy, domestication, stress resilience

Gwendolyn Kirschner

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Root development, BIRD proteins, Rice, Microscopy

Hendrik (Nico) Kuijer

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Rice, pearl millet, cereal transformation, gene assisted transformation, Zaxionone, creation of expression diversity

Israel Maruri Lopez

Postdoctoral Fellow

Itzell Euridice Hernandez Sanchez

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), Stress granules (SGs)

Jianing Mi

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: LC-MS-based metabolomics, Plant hormones

Katja Froehlich

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Plant-microbe interactions, plant stress tolerance, plant microbiome

Khalid Sedeek

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Plant genome engineering, Crop improvement

Kirti Shekhawat

Postdoctoral Fellow

Marilia Almeida-Trapp

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Plant Secondary Metabolites, Plant microbe interaction, Metabolome, Phytohormones

Michael Abrouk

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Bioinformatics, Plant genetics, Sequencing, Comparative analysis, Evolution

Naveenkumar Athiyannan

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Disease resistance, Cereal genetics and genomics, Plant-pathogen interactions

Nicolas E. Figueroa Fuentealba

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Plant Molecular Biology, Plant Physiology, Stress granules, Phytohormones

Noor Al-Bader

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Bioinformatics, Platinum-Standard RefSeq Genomes, Genome Annotation, Ontologies, Expression Analysis, Biostatistics, Abiotic and Biotic Plant Stress, Vegetable Breeding, Population Genetics

Rashid Aman

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Synthetic biology, Plant tissue culture (tobacco and rice), Virus based plant genome engineering, CRISPR/Cas 9 (Cas9 and Cas13) technology for plant genome engineering, CRISPR/Cas13 based RNA virus interference in plants, CRISPR/Cas13 based RNA manipulation in plants, Abiotic Stress Tolerance (Salt-Tolerance), Photoperiodic flowering in Arabidopsis, Plant Molecular Biology, Plant Biochemistry, Cross-talks between Flowering and Salt stress Tolerance, High Affinity Potassium Transport in Arabidopsis and Thellungiella salsuginea, Plant Physiology

Shyam Gundu

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Root development, Developmental Biology, Genetics, Cell biology and Molecular Biology

Sivakrishna Gundra

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: CRISPR-Cas, Directed evolution, Crop improvement

Tingting Xiao

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Date palm development, Immunocytochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetics

Xiongjie Zheng

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Apocarotenoids, Carotenoids, Genetics, metabolic engineering

Yagiz Alagoz (Yağız Alagöz)

Postdoctoral Fellow

Yajun Wang

Postdoctoral Fellow

Yong Zhou

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests: Rice, Genome, Comparative Genomics, Genetics, Evolution, NGS, PACBIO, Seuqel2, HiFi, Gene assembly, Iso-seq, RNA-Seq, Structural Variation, TE, Maize, Wheat, Spirodela, Traits, Gene regulation, Phenotyping

PhD Students

Aaron Pantoja Angles

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Synthetic biology, CRISPR

Abdugaffor Ablazov

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Plant Molecular Biology, Reverse genetics, CRISPR-Cas, Apocarotenoids, Zaxionone

Abdulrahman Alhabsi

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Molecular Biology, Genome engineering

Abrar Felemban

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Apocarotenoids, Botryis cinerea, CRISPR-Cas

Ahad Kababji

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Genome engineering, Synthetic biology

Amal Alghamdi

Ph.D. Student

Anna Siodmak

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Plant Science, Plant-Pathogen Interaction, Reactive Oxygen Signaling, MAPK signaling, Translation, Ribosomes

Aseel Alsantely

PhD Student

Research Interests: Bioinformatics, Genome sequencing, Gene annotation

Auwalu Abdu

Ph.D. Student

Boada Han

Ph.D. Student

Clara S. Stanschewski

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Plant Genetics, Plant Phenotyping, Genome-Wide Association Studies, Genotype x Environment interactions, Plant Domestication, Climate Change

Hanin Ahmed

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Crop domestication, Bioinformatics, Genomics, Population Genetics, Plant Biology and Desert agriculture

Jian You Wang

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Zaxionone, Strigolactones, Metabolomics, Analytical chemistry

Justine Braguy

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Plant Biology, Strigolactones, Synthetic biology

Khairiah Alwutayd

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Plant-Bacterial interactions, transcriptomics, Molecular Biology

Monika Gyongyi

Ph.D Student

Nathaly Rodriguez Ortiz

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Tomato, Salinity tolerance, Grafting, polyploidy

Pei Yu Lin

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: ABC transporter, Apocarotenoids, SLs

Prabhu Manickam

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Plant genetics, Plant signalling and plant Biochemistry

Radwa Kamel

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Molecular Biology, Genome engineering

Randa Zarban

PhD student

Research Interests: Plant Molecular Biology, Protein interaction, Strigolactones, Striga hermonthica germination inhibition

Shahid Chaudhary

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Viral vectors, Bio-production, Synthetic biology

Tin Marsic

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Genome engineering, Synthetic biology

Vinicius Lube

Ph.D. Student

Wenjun Jiang

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Genome editing, CRISPR

Yang Zhang

Ph.D. Student

Yu Yang

Ph.D. Student

Research Interests: Marine ecology, Materials modeling

Master Students

Dona Alburi

Master Student

Edith Sanchez Hernandez

Master Student

Research Interests: Genome engineering, CRISPR-Cas, Genome editing, Food security

Izamar Olivas Orduna

Master Student

Jose Luis Moreno Ramirez

Master Student

Research Interests: Genome editing, CRISPR, Crop improvement

Qianchu Wang

Master Student

Raghad Shuwaikan

Master student