Category Archives: people

Welcome new graduate students Tania and Julia

Welcome to first year graduate students Julia Adams (Plant  Biology) and Tania Kurbessoian (Microbiology). Tania joins us after completing a MS in Microbiology at Cal State-Northridge. She will starting out work on projects relating to genomics and physiology of extremophilic fungi,  black yeasts and efforts to culture and describe diversity of desert fungi. Julia completed a BS at Wellesley and has worked on a variety of projects related to lichen fungi. She will focus on lichen fungi from desert regions and will use genomic and potentially metabolomic tools to study evolution and unique properties of some lichenized fungi endemic to Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave desert.

2016 Round Up – by the numbers

Quick post to sum up some of the news from 2016 and head into 2017.

  • Six manuscripts were published and an additional two were accepted and three more were submitted or being revised in 2016
  • Three graduate students survived another year in the lab: Sawyer, Nat, Derreck
  • Joined by one Microbiology graduate student Jesus Pena joined in Fall 2016.
  • Nine undergraduates worked in the lab Deane, Josh, Jericho, Dillon, Na, Justin, Serena, Leandra, George and Travis has been part of bioinformatics projects
  • One postdoc, Jinfeng has been the bioinformatics and genomics guru from genome assembly to transposon bioinformatics
  • One new assembly of a Citrus genome
  • At least 15 new genomes from our work with Zygolife and 1000 Fungal Genomes project were released or material processed. More than 100 cultures of some fungi are being examined in the lab.
  • One NSF grant started on systematics of anaerobic chytrid fungi and one new grant awarded as part of the UC MRPI http://ucop.edu/research-initiatives/programs/mrpi/2017-Awards.html program on the “UC Valley Fever Research Initiative” lead by UCSF and including several other UC campus.
  • Jason is on sabbatical in 2017 at Oregon State University.

Desert Crust collecting, Summer edition

On August 4th, 2016, Nat, Derreck, Sawyer, and Jericho went to Joshua Tree National Park to collect more Biological Soil Crusts samples. They were lucky to find some Lichen crusts which we could not find in our last sampling trip. Here are some pictures of our sampling team.

Stajich lab sampling team: Derreck, Nat, Sawyer, and Jericho
Stajich lab sampling team: Derreck, Nat, Sawyer, and Jericho
LightLichenCrust_JTNP
Our first collection of Lichen crust from Joshua Tree National Park
SurfaceTemp_DerreckJericho
Derreck measured crust surface temperature, while Jericho was getting ready for sampling

A desert foray

We started some explorations on fungi in desert crusts this week with a project in Joshua Tree National Park. Nuttapom received a Robert Lee Graduate Student research grant to explore impacts of visitor disturbance on biodiversity of desert crusts in JTNP.  Nat with the help of Claudia, Derreck, and Prof Mike Allen did a first exploration of a few sites.  We are happy to see some rain falling this week so there should be some changes to the crusts in some subsequent visits this week and weekend and coinciding with a workshop on desert crusts in the park this weekend. Here’s a few pictures of the team out in the field last week.

Mike leads the team
Mike and Derreck ahead in Hidden Valley
Nat Sampling
Nat, getting his first taste of sampling in the desert.
Claudia looking for sandtsone associated fungi
Dereck and Claudia helping to look for crusts. Claudia is researching sandstone associated fungi from a variety of habitats.
Cyano Crust
Cyanobacteria dominated crust
Moss crust
Moss & crusts

Soil crust site

Migrating fungal biologists

  • We said bye to Marco Marconi, visiting student from the Wilkinson Lab in Madrid, in December. He worked on some data mining from the 1KFG project and brought some new R tools for looking for enrichment across the CAZY, Interpro, and Pfam differences in species.

Marco

  • We welcome Plant Pathology graduate student Derreck Carter-House to the lab in January – after spending time working on molecular biology projects in plants and plant-microbe interactions in another lab. carterhouseweb
  • Jason went across to England to serve on Ensembl Genomes  SAB and give seminar at University of Exeter – he came back with more appreciation for sunny California winters.
  • 2016-01-29 12.38.23 2016-01-26 14.04.29 2016-01-25 09.08.13

Recent lab news

The past few months have passed quickly but wanted to share a few updates.

Jason presented at the EMBO Eukaryotes meeting in Spain, Mexican Mycology Congress, Univ of Arizona, attended the Kavli Frontiers meeting, co-organized the Southern California Eukaryotic Pathogens meeting held again at UCR and taught graduate course on Programming and Data analyses.

The past few months we hosted Yinka Odebode from University of Lagos from August to November. He was supported by the West African Research Association. Yinka learned about ITS sequencing of fungi to identify his isolates in his work in Africa. He also explored properties of dust associated fungi in Nigeria before he returned home in November.

yinka1 yinka3

We also welcomed Marco Marconi from Madrid for a few months and is working on comparative genomics of fungi using the 1KFG datasets.

Starting in  September we welcomed new graduate student in Plant Pathology, Nuttapon Pombubpa (right). Here he is (right) enjoying lunch along with visiting student Claudia Coleine and graduate student Sawyer.

lablunch1

We gathered to say goodbye to project scientist Peng Liu who returned to China in December. Here she is with postdoc Jinfeng and visiting student Zhinquan.
lablunch3

Undergraduates Dillon and Jericho joined us for lunch as well. They have both worked closely with Peng this Summer and Fall.lablunch4

Most of the lab together for a farewell lunch for Peng including Deane on the far right.lablunch5

Congratulations Dr Yizhou Wang

The end of the quarter was a blur but I wanted to properly congratulate Yizhou Wang. Dr Wang successfully defended his PhD in December and submitted his dissertation “Discovery and Properties of Small RNAs from Meiotic Silencing by Unpaired DNA in Neurospora crassa”  in the Plant Biology graduate program. He is our newest graduate from the lab and we couldn’t be happier and proud for him. He was able to complete a concentration MS in Statistics at the same time and was able to master bioinformatics and data analysis of next generation sequencing and comparative genomics along with small RNA Northerns, Southern Blots, and Neurospora culturing and care. He has been a great asset to the lab and I am delighted that he has finished this part of his education and training and excited for his next steps.

Yizhou_Asilomar_1He is serious about his cooking, treating us to some great meals from BBQ to a Chinese seafood extravaganza.
Yizhou_cooking