Evangeline Ballerini  
Evangeline Ballerini
Assistant Professor, PUI
Ph.D., Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
B.A,Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley


Dr. Ballerini is an assistant professor at a publicly-funded primarily undergraduate-serving institution (California State University, Sacramento). In theory, she enjoys building connections and interacting with a diverse student body as she guides them through hands-on learning activities in the classroom and in her laboratory research group, which focuses on processes at the intersection of evolution, genetics, development, and ecology in the genus Aquilegia. In recent practice, she has become one with The Matrix as she spends nearly all day, every day, staring at a computer screen and longing for the days of human interaction and field work.

Marian Chau
Marian Chau
IUCN Seed Conservation Co-Chair, Conservation Consulting, AJB Assistant Editor
Ph.D., 2012, Botany, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
M.S., 2010, Botany, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
B.A, 2001, English, University of Houston


Dr. Marian M. Chau is the founder and Co-Chair of the IUCN Seed Conservation Specialist Group, an international network of experts. When faced with a career crisis, she started her own company, Kalehua Seed Conservation Consulting LLC, providing advice and training to clients in Hawaiʻi and beyond. This led to an opportunity at Terraformation, a company that accelerates reforestation efforts to mitigate the climate crisis, where Dr. Chau now serves part-time as Head of Seed Banking. Additionally, she is the part-time Assistant/Content Editor for American Journal of Botany.

Mary Dudley Mary Dudley
High School Agr. Edu. Teacher
M.A., Botany, Miami University in Oxford
M.Ed., Workforce Development, Bowling Green University


Mary Dudley is the agriculture education teacher at James N. Gamble Montessori High School which is part of the Cincinnati Public School District. She designs and implements a unique curriculum focused on applying biotechnology and food science skills; bringing the possibilities of urban agriculture to life. Students in grades 7-12 practice these skills as they experiment with sophisticated laboratory equipment and produce market goods for their student enterprise.

Lauren Eserman Lauren Eserman
Research Scientist Atlanta Botanical Garden
Ph.D. 2017, Plant Biology, University of Georgia.
M.S. 2012, Biology, Southeastern Louisiana University.
B.S. 2009, Biology, Southeastern Louisiana University, Honors distinction, Magna cum laude.


Dr. Lauren A. Eserman is the Research Coordinator and a Research Scientist in the Conservation and Research Department at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where she runs the Garden's Conservation Genetics Laboratory. Her work focuses on species and population level studies of endangered and threatened plants, such as Conradina glabra and Torreya taxifolia. Her research to date has focused on phylogenetic relationships in the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae, as well as the evolution of storage roots in this group. Dr. Eserman is also the co-organizer of the Convolvulaceae Network, a group of over 100 scientists from around the world who hold weekly seminars on all aspects of Convolvulaceae research.

Frank T. Farruggia
Frank T. Farruggia
Ph.D, Arizona State University
M.S., Miami University
B.S., Miami University


Frank Farruggia completed his B.S. and M.S in Botany and Miami University, his Ph.D. at Arizona State University and a Postdoc at The University of Utah, with research areas in plant systematics, community and landscape ecology, evolution and biogeography. Nine years ago he joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he is currently a Senior Scientist working in the area of Ecological Risk Assessment. He continues his systematics and plant ecology research through a Research Collaborator position with the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian.

Lex Flagel Lex Flagel
Bayer Crop
Ph.D., Genetics, Iowa State
B.S., Agronomy, University of Minnesota


Dr. Lex Flagel leads the Genetic Discovery team at Bayer Crop Science. He has a background in plant biology and genetics, and he uses these skills to find new ways to improve plant breeding in crops like maize and soybean.

Kadeem Gilbert Kadeem Gilbert
USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. 2019, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
B.S. 2012, Natural Resources, Cornell University

Research Gate
Google Scholar

Kadeem Gilbert is currently a USDA-NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn State. He studies carnivorous plants (particularly Nepenthes) and their interactions with insects and microbes. He also studies symbioses between plants and other organisms more broadly, focusing on the ability of plants to physiologically modify the properties of the microenvironment to which their symbionts are exposed.

Sara Handy Sara Handy
Ph.D., Oceanography, University of Delaware
B.Sc.,Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Dr. Sara Handy is a Research Biologist in the Office of Regulatory Science within the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Her work focuses on developing, evaluating, and validating genomic methods to identify plant and animal species in foods and dietary supplements. She has used these tools on a wide range of organisms including algae, fish, and plants and her current primary project has been building a DNA reference library targeting botanical species of FDA interest called GenomeTrackrCP.

Bonnie L Isaac Bonnie L. Isaac
Collection Manager Carnegie Museum of Natural History
M.S., Youngstown State University
B.S., Youngstown State University


Isaac manages the herbarium of over 500,000 specimens for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. In addition to maintaining the database, she packs loans for researchers and manages other curatorial staff. Isaac is also active in field work in the United States collecting specimens for the herbarium and documenting rare and endangered plants for Pennsylvania.

Rishi R. Masalia Rishi R. Masalia
Startup Executive
Ph.D. 2018, Plant Biology, University of Georgia
B.S. 2012, Biology, University of Arizona

www.rishimasalia.com (Personal)
www.leafworks.com (Company)

Rishi R. Masalia is an Executive at LeafWorks Inc., a Northern California startup using modern genomic techniques to verify the identity of various plant species, cultivars, and products with a focus on Cannabis. As the Director of Data Science, Rishi oversees all computational analyses for both LeafWorks' discovery science as well as product development and execution. Additionally, he serves as the company’s communications manager, and point person for all strategic academic-industry partnerships.

Chase Mason Chase Mason
Assistant Professor
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2015 - 2016, Katharine H. Putnam Fellow in Plant Science, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
Ph.D. 2015, Plant Biology, University of Georgia
B.S. 2009, Zoology, University of Florida


Chase Mason is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Central Florida (R1 + Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI)). As a plant evolutionary ecophysiologist, Chase researches the diversity of plant functional traits, including their genetic architecture, their evolutionary history, and how they influence biotic interactions. Chase's lab group primarily uses cultivated sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and diverse wild sunflower species (genus Helianthus) as a model system, though also researches temperate woody plants, lepidopteran herbivores, and mycorrhizal fungi.

Sara Middleton Sara Middleton
Human Nature Stories Project founder, The Banageddon Film
Ph.D. Student, Department of Zoology/ Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford
MRes, Ecosystem and Environmental Change, Imperial College London
BSc, Environmental Sciences, Oxford Brookes University


Sara Middleton is a plant ecologist, filmmaker and PhD student at the University of Oxford (UK). Her research looks at understanding the effect of droughts on a UK calcareous grassland. She is also the founder of the Human Nature Stories Project and project coordinator for The Bananageddon Film

thiers Barbara M. Thiers
NYBG Herbarium Director, Incoming ASPT President
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts
B.A., San Francisco State University


As Director of the New York Botanical Garden Herbarium, I am responsible for overseeing the Garden’s 7.9 million collections of algae, bryophytes, fungi and vascular plants and the staff members who manage these collections. My research interest is the systematics and morphology of the largest family of Hepaticae, the Lejeuneaceae, a family of mostly tropical, epiphytic liverworts. I am also the editor of Index Herbariorum, the online registry of the approximately 3000 herbaria worldwide.

Gordon Uno Gordon Uno
Professor, Past BSA President
Ph.D., University of California Berkeley
B.A., University of Colorado, Boulder

Gordon Uno is a botanist at the University of Oklahoma, and former BSA President and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology for 15 years. He has NSF awards to study: 1) faculty professional development and 2) science as a liberal art, and has recently received a Fulbright Specialist award to work with the Plant and Soil Science Department at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is interested in scientific literacy, equity and inclusive teaching and learning, and science education in introductory-level college STEM courses.

Ya Yang Ya Yang
Assistant Professor and Herbarium Curator
Ph.D., 2012, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
B.S., 2005, Biology, Peking University, Beijing, China


The Yang Lab combines field and collection-based approaches with phylogenetics, transcriptomics, and genomics to reconstruct species relationships in plants (Caryophyllales and Euphorbia), detect polyploidy and reticulate evolution, and to explore gene families and modules involved in secondary metabolites, stress tolerance, and chromosome evolution.