Research Interests (300 words)
I am interested in how plants sense and respond to their environment. Plants are sessile so they must have immensely plastic abilities to react to stimuli and adapt to their current situation. I am most interested in how small molecules and chemicals from the environment can affect plant processes. The main focus of my work is on karrikins: small molecules that are a main component of smoke, released when organic materials are burned. This is especially relevant here in California, when wildfires are extremely common. Karrikins have been shown to be released in fires, and then seep into the soil where they can stimulate seed germination. This process has been examined in the model plant Arabidopsis, the ancestral plant P. patens (moss), but has never been examined in gymnosperms, the major species to actually depend on a fire-ecosystem. I hope to examine the effects of karrikin on gymnosperms at the protein level, specifically to examine the karrikin receptor and downstream interactors.