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Two New Plant Biologists Arrive at SBS

SBS and the University of Utah welcome SBS’s newest faculty, Assistant Professors Chan Yul Yoo and Heejin Yoo. Their research is in the areas of plant biology and Ecology/Evolution and both are positioned in the Molecular, Cellular & Evolutionary Biology Program (MCEB)

The Yoos come to us from Oklahoma State University. They earned their PhDs at Purdue University.
Chan Yul describes the nucleus in cell as spatially organized within three-dimensional spaces and harbors various nuclear bodies consisting of protein/RNA/chromatin complexes, which creates micro-environments essential for fundamental nuclear functions in eukaryotes. The mis-regulation of nuclear bodies leads to human diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. In plants, photo-bodies are photoreceptor-containing nuclear bodies that sense light and regulate almost every facet of growth and development including chloroplast biogenesis. “Our lab is broadly interested in understanding fundamental functions of photo-bodies as developmental and environmental sensors in reprogramming growth, development, and chloroplast biogenesis in plants.”

“My main research is focused on understanding how plants coordinate metabolic pathways and defense mechanisms to optimize plant growth and defense,” says Heejin. Since plants do not have specialized immune cells, plants need to allocate their energy and resource properly to either growth or defense depending on environmental conditions. “My research is to understand the underlying mechanisms through transcriptional and translational regulation, and metabolic dynamics during plant innate immunity.” This research, she explains, will ultimately enhance our knowledge of molecular mechanisms and interactions between defense signaling and metabolic regulation to optimize or maximize crop yield and disease resistance. “Specifically, projects in my lab include; 1) Regulatory mechanism of salicylic acids for plant immunity in various plant species, 2) The role of amino acids for plant immunity, 3) Global translatome analysis using ribosome profiling during plant systemic immunity, 4) Functional analysis of metabolic pathways during plant immune response, and 5) The role of helper NB-LRR for plant immune mechanisms.”

On behalf of all of us at the School of. Biological Sciences, especially Co-Directors Leslie Sieburth and Neil Vickers, Welcome to the Beehive State!