Alumni 2022



  Name Duration Research
Kiethlyn Manalo Summer 2022-Fall 2022

Federal Work Study (FWS) student 

Inflorescence structure of Solanaceae

  Areebah Ahmed. Fall 2021- Fall 2022 Flower color pattern in Convolvulaceae
Ivy Nassar Summer 2022-Fall 2022

Virus Induced Gene Silencing

Flower color evolution  of Magnolia

  Timothy Shahinian Summer 2022-Fall 2022

Virus Induced Gene Silencing

Flower color evolution in Basal angiosperm


Alumni 2020

Ghadeer Bukhari

Ph.D. in Integrative Life Sciences



  • Ph.D Integrative Life Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University 
  • M.S. Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University

  • B.S. Department of Science and Education, King Abdulaziz University

Research Interests

I am interested in the evolution of floral symmetry in pentapetalous angiosperms, and the role of developmental mechanism and pollinators in shaping the floral morphology. I am also interested in using next generation sequencing methods to discover candidate genes for control dorsal and ventral identity of zygomorphic flowers of Schizanthus (Solanaceae).


Angela Nguyen B.S. 2018-2020  Virus Induced Gene Silencing 
  Nicholas Waldrop, B.S. 2019  Virus Induced Gene Silencing 
Jercy Merza, B.S. 2020 Flower color evolution of Solanaceae 
  Logan Miller, B.S 2020-2021 Flower color evolution 


Formal Post-doctoral Fellow

Jingbo Zhang



  • Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University 2015-2019
  • Visiting Student, Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University 2013-2015
  • Ph.D., Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences 2010-2015
  • M.S., Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences 2007-2010
  • B.S., College of Life and Environmental Science, Minzu University of China 2003-2007

Research Interests

My current research focuses on evolutionary developmental genetics of flowers, specifically the floral symmetry evolution in Solanaceae and Malpighiaceae families. I am also interested in systematic and evolutionary botany, involving investigation of phylogenetic relationships using a range of experimental approaches, including evidences from molecular data and paleobotany.

Alumni 2018

Farahnoz Khojayori, M.S. 2016-2018 Floral symmetry genes elucidate the development and evolution of oil-bee pollinated flowers of Malpighiaceae and Krameriaceae
Kevin Pucci, B.S. 2017-2018 Who's the mother and father of Schizanthus wisetonensis?
Brigitte Gallagher, B.S. 2018 Cloning of Krameriaceae and Zygophyllaceae CYC2

Alumni 2017

Ao Gao, M.S.  2015-2017  Evolution of antagonistic relationships in proteins: a case study of RADIALIS- AND DIVARICATA-like genes.
Kenji Mizoguchi 2016-2017  CYC2-like gene evolution in Solanaceae 
  Noha Mudhaffar 

Fall 2015

Fall 2016

Standardization of sequence names using Python-Directed Project (BNFO 692)

Differential gene expression analysises fo teh RNA-seq data-Directed Project (BNFO 692)

Alumni 2016

Switu Patel, B.S.     Spring 2016 Cloning of CYC2-like genes from Solanceous plants    
  Farahnoz Khojayori, B.S.

Summer 2015


Construction of CYC2 vectors for VIGS in tomato and tobacco

Genetic mechanism underlying the reversal to radial floral symmetry in Brachylophon from zygomorphic flowered ancestor in Malpighiaceae

Alumni 2014

Sarah McClanahan, B.S. 2014

Morphological innovation and niche opportunity explain the diversification of Solanaceae and Reconstruction of floral symmetry evolution and viral induced gene silencing (VIGS) in Solanaceous plants

  Cameron Winn, B.S.  2014 Comparing the efficiency of different inoculation methods using Viral Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) to study gene functions in desert tobacco
  Melissa Walker, B.S.  2014 CYC2-like genes and their role in flroal symmetry    
  Matthew Hurd, B.S.  2014 Virus induced gene silencing(VIGS) in tobacco    

Alumni 2013

Tiara Meredith, B.S.     2013 Morphological changes in the Solanaceae family as it realted to pollinators    
Amanda Munden, B.S.      2013  DNA Extraction of species of Solanaceae     
Susana Ayad, B.S.      2013  DNA Extraction of species of Solanaceae