Todd P. Michael, PhD
Nicholas “Nick” Allsing
Nick Allsing completed his master’s degree at San Diego State University, using both experimental and metagenomic techniques to study the microbes and viruses found in the Tijuana River. He is now a bioinformatics analyst in the Michael Lab, focusing on genome assembly for a variety of plant species. Outside of the lab, you would most likely find him on a hike, at a Padres baseball game, or binging a new favorite TV show.
Tony Alyward, PhD
Jenni Kao is an undergraduate at UC Riverside studying Plant Biology with an emphasis on plant genetics and biotechnology. Her research projects consisted of utilizing bioinformatics to investigate the grape phylloxera aphid gene evolution and the effects of climate change on the Arctostaphylos species distribution in California. Kao spends her free time painting, gardening, and spending time with her cats and dog.
Justine Kitony, PhD
Justine Kitony is a postdoctoral fellow from Kenya. Before joining Salk, he worked as a scientist at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). Kitony earned his PhD in Agricultural Science from Nagoya University in Japan, where he developed and analyzed rice nested association mapping populations (aus-NAM). Kitony is working on identifying genetic signatures for improving crop productivity utilizing high-quality genomic sequences and phenotype data from Michael’s group. Currently, Kitony is constructing a sorghum pan-genome for genetic analysis of agronomic traits. Kitony’s research, in a nutshell, aims to provide genomic resources to be used in modern plant breeding programs while also expanding our understanding of plant biology in the face of the world’s growing population and changing climate.
Ryan Lynch, PhD
Jeremiah Minich, PhD
Emily Murray graduated from UC San Diego with a BS in Microbiology. She conducted her undergraduate research investigating the microbiota-gut-brain axis, specifically, microbiota and metabolites associated with aging, longevity, and Alzheimer’s disease. She joined the Michael lab in 2022 as a research assistant, working on plant nucleic acid extractions and library preparations, including HMW DNA for long-read sequencing technologies. Outside of the lab, Murray enjoys surfing, gardening, and hiking with her family, friends, and wiener dog.
Ashot Papikian, PhD
Rachel Rattner-Norris, PhD
Rachel Rattner-Norris completed her PhD at UC Riverside in Dr. Mikeal Roose’s lab, investigating the relationship between gene expression and fruit quality during fruit development in grafted citrus trees. After her PhD, she completed a postdoc with the USDA in Dr. Raymond Yokomi’s lab where she assembled and annotated new strains of Spiroplasma citri, the causal agent of citrus stubborn disease. During her time there, she also helped develop a fast, effective, field-deployable assay for early detection of Huanglongbing (HLB) in citrus. Rattner-Norris joined the Michael lab in 2022 and is contributing to genome engineering projects within HPI. In her free time, Rachel enjoys playing roller derby and playing her trombone.
Dharmendra Singh, PhD
CRoPS Transform Project Manager
Dharmendra Singh has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University, where he studied the function of a plastoglobuli localized protein in plant physiology and defense against biotic and abiotic stress in the apple and Arabidopsis. He did a postdoc fellowship at Cornell, where he identified plant defense-associated kinase proteins using large-scale protein-protein interaction. As a postdoctoral fellowship at Noble Foundation, he studied plant defense against viral and bacterial pathogens in sorghum, cassava, and tomato. As a global discovery pathologist for Solanaceae at HM Clause (Limagrain), his work involved discovering and deploying genes against several pathogens of tomato, pepper, and tomatillo. He joined the Michael lab in 2022 as a CRoPS Translation Project Manager. Singh is developing strategies and managing a translational team to validate gene function in several crops for improving their carbon sequester potential.
Ying Sun, PhD