Cheng-Chiang Wu

PhD Student, Harvard University

To Think Different in Global Perspectives

The blessed journey to Botany started when I was admitted to the Department of Botany at National Taiwan University (NTU), as certified Talented Students in Biology by the Ministry of Education, Republic of China. Since my study in college, the wonderful biodiversity in the subtropical island of Taiwan has never failed to amaze me. There are more than 4000 vascular plants across plant phylogeny in seven life zones. My mind has been broadened and I have been challenged to think different, by my favorite component of this career as a botanist: field trips. Participation in an ecological survey at Kenting National Park and field trips in courses of Plant Taxonomy and Plant Ecology granted me intimacy to the beauty of plants’ secret life in nature.

In 1996, I had a summer internship in the cytogenetics laboratory of Dr. Chi-Chang Chen and Dr. Yen-Yu Kao at NTU. From 1997 to 1998, I worked with Dr. Bai-Ling Lin on the molecular response of plants to stress in the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) at Academia Sinica funded by National Science Council of the Republic of China. I was fascinated by gardening and stimulated by my Horticulture courses. This experience inspired my interest in plant developmental genetics. In my senior year, I took a course on early scientific literature of plant development in my senior year. The classic articles written by scientists in the 19th and early 20th century broadened my view on basic issues in plant morphogenesis. The summer after I graduated from college, I explored the scientific community of another classic model system in developmental genetics: Drosophila. I had a great summer learning how Drosophila’s neurons think during development, and how scientists working on Drosophila think, in Dr. Cheng-Ting Chien’s laboratory in IMB.

Cheng-Chiang Wu

Plant evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) caught my attention in 2001 when I was studying the genetic mechanism underlying the development of angiosperm flowers in pursuit of my master’s degree in Dr. Jer-Ming Hu’s laboratory at NTU. Currently I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. The legacy inherited from Asa Gray, Alexander Agassiz, and many excellent scholars of this department has filled my vision with global perspectives. I work with Dr. Elena Kramer to investigate the functional evolution of floral homeotic genes in the context of phylogeny. By taking multidisciplinary approaches, I study how the change of nucleotides in duplicated genes resulted differences in patterns of RNA expression, interaction of proteins, and ultimately, the floral diversity present in nature.

I am grateful for being able to study Botany in such a great community of dedicated scientists, devoted educators, and friendly collaborators. As this field composed of long traditions expands with integration of multidisciplinary insights and visions, we are at the frontier for exploring the boundaries of science, with great appreciation for the natural wonders on our Earth.




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