Meet Blake Meyers

The lab’s work with next-gen sequencing stretches back to ~2001, when Blake was funded by the NSF to apply “MPSS” to the analysis of gene expression in Arabidopsis. This led to the development in the Meyers lab of the first publicly-accessible browser for next-gen data. After moving to the University of Delaware in 2002, we continued to develop the application to mRNA and small RNA analyses of first MPSS, then 454, and finally the still-current Illumina SBS sequencing.

In 2005, with collaborator Pam Green, we were the first to use next-gen sequencing for the analysis of small RNAs, and in 2008, our labs co-developed “PARE” for the genome-wide analysis of cleaved mRNAs (PARE = Parallel Analysis of RNA Ends). The Meyers lab has widely applied these methods to study plant genomes and their RNA products, and the lab continues to develop and apply novel informatics approaches for the analysis of RNA function in plants.

Blake’s CV

Interviews with Blake

Lab Members

Post-doctoral & Research Scientists

This is Chong Teng, but you can call me TC. I'm a post-doc in the Meyers Lab, and in my plate there are Dcl5 and 24-nt meiotic phasiRNA in the maize anther. The big idea is that the Dcl5 controlled 24-nt meiotic phasiRNA help the maize anther get by hot and humid summer to maintain the male fertility. Other than science, I'm the dumpling maker of the Meyers lab family.

Chong Teng

Research Scientist - Laboratory

I joined the Meyers lab in September 2018 after finishing my Ph.D. in Plant Science at University of Arizona. I am interested in understanding the genetic and epigenetic regulation of plant reproductive development in general. Currently, I am investigating the biogenesis, function, and evolution of the anther-specific, 21-nt phasiRNAs in cereal species using maize as the primary model.

Junpeng Zhan

Postdoctoral Associate - Laboratory

I joined the Meyers lab in January 2019 after finishing my Ph.D in Plant Pathology at Texas A&M University. Plants express a plethora of genes and I’m interested in identifying key genes involved in transcriptional reprogramming in response to pathogens. To do this, I plan to spatially-resolve gene expression at a near single-cell resolution during infection, giving us a deeper understanding of disease susceptibility/resistance mechanisms in plants. Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time with my family, watching and playing sports, and making YouTube and Facebook videos. #Bioguy

Kevin Cox

Postdoctoral Associate - Laboratory

I joined the Meyers Lab where I am studying the roles of small and tiny RNAs involved in communication between plants and microbes. Small RNAs appear to play an essential role in plant resistance and I believe that a better understanding of their mode of action will allow us to reduce crop losses and improve productivity. When I am not in the lab, I love to travel and discover new places, play sports, and enjoy nature with my family. How does a nice day look to me? Good music, good friends and good wine.

Patricia Baldrich

Research Scientist - Laboratory

I joined the Meyers lab in February, 2019. I previously completed my Ph.D. in plant biology studying the androgenesis switch in barley using genomic and trancriptomic approaches. My project here is to study the role of small RNAs in the fertility of grasses. One of my goals is to identify a molecular mechanisms for the control and generation of conditional, genic male sterility – a useful phenotype in grasses such as wheat and barley. In my free time, I enjoy travelling, reading and cooking.

Sébastien Bélanger

Research Scientist - Laboratory

Graduate students

I joined the Meyers lab after earning a B.S. in molecular biology and physiology. Among many goals I had when joining this lab, I wanted to gain computational skills relevant for my research. My objective here is to utilize novel sequencing and labeling techniques to study proteins involved in small RNA biogenesis and their modes of operation. When I’m not working, I like to bake, travel and spend time with my family.

Aleksandra Beric

PhD Student - Laboratory

I first joined the Meyers lab as a Computer Science Master's student in 2007 at the University of Delaware. On graduation, I continued working as a staff bioinformatician before joining DuPont Pioneer as a Sr. Bioinformatics Research Associate in 2010. While working full-time in the industry, I have returned to Meyers lab in 2016 as a part-time PhD student in Bioinformatics. My research interests include development of machine learning and computational algorithms for the study of miRNA and phasiRNA evolution in plants. When time allows, I follow Formula1 and enjoy mountain biking/motorcycles.

Guna Ranjan Gurazada

PhD Student (part-time) - Computational

I joined the Meyers Lab in May of 2021 following a post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. I received my B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Puget Sound in 2018. I am interested in the genetic and epigenetic regulation of development. In the Meyers lab, I will be working to better understand reproductive phasiRNAs, their function and their regulation in plant anthers. When I am not in lab, I love to play soccer, cook, and spend time with friends and family.

Lily O'Connor

PhD Student - Laboratory

Rachel Jouni

PhD Student - Laboratory

I joined the Meyers Lab in June of 2017 following the completion of my MS degree at the University of Delaware with Prof. Janine Sherrier, where I studied phasiRNAs in the legume-Rhizobium symbiosis. Currently, I am involved in the construction of a genetic engineering tool aimed to improve selection of successful products of homologous recombination. I am also interested in nuclear-cytoplasmic export of small RNAs. In my free time, I engage with the local STL community in many STEM outreach activities, as well as volunteer with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic. For fun, I play softball, music, and laugh, a lot!

Ryan DelPercio

PhD Student - Laboratory

I joined Meyers lab in June 2021 after earning an MS in bioinformatics and computational biology. My research interests lie broadly in the development and application of computational approaches to understand epigenetics and small molecule biogenesis in diverse plant species. In my free time I enjoy running, listening to music, and cooking for my friends and family.

Scott Lewis

PhD Student - Bioinformatics

I joined the Meyers lab in September 2021 as a Visiting student from Brazil. I am enrolled in a plant science PhD program at Federal University of Lavras and I am developing my thesis on regulatory networks in coffee. In my free time I enjoy reading, listening to music and watching movies.

Thales Cherubino

PhD Student (visiting) - Bioinformatics

Staff & Associates

Deepti Ramachandruni

Technical Specialist - Computational

Feray Demirci

Technical Specialist - Computational

Gus Vogt

Laboratory Technician

Hillary Birtley

Laboratory Assistant

I am currently working on developing novel transformation techniques for the non-model organism Aquilegia. Additionally, I will be working on transformation of Spirodela and Asparagus. My background is in traditional herbalism, and I am broadly interested in ethnobotany and useful plants, especially medicinal plants and their conservation. When I am not in the lab, you’ll find me in my garden growing herbs and vegetables, cooking something elaborate, or doing yoga.

Jasmine Zenderland

Laboratory Technician

I joined the Meyers lab in January 2020. I earned my Ph.D in Genetics from UC Davis in 2004, focusing on DNA repair in Arabidopsis. Since 2006, I've led the North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee (NAASC), and I first worked with Blake in 2009 when he was a NAASC member. My primary responsibilities are to assist with Blake's duties as Editor in Chief of The Plant Cell; I will also help with lab publications, grants, and other projects. I continue to manage NAASC, including organizing North American Arabidopsis conferences. In my spare time I go to the gym, spend time with my family, and work on progressive political causes. Twitter: @DiversifyPlants and @ICAR_2020.

Joanna Friesner

Editorial Associate

Josh Rothhaupt

DDPSC Bioinformatics Infrastructure Manager

I joined the Meyers Lab in July 2004 at the University of Delaware. I started working remotely after I moved to California in May 2008, and I continued doing so after Blake moved to the Danforth Center in January 2016. My responsibilities include facilitating and overseeing different aspects of bioinformatics projects in the lab by establishing guidelines and policies, training, instructing and assisting coworkers from both biology and computational sides. I also develop and manage various web resources used by lab members, collaborators as well as the wider scientific community, including Plant MPSS Database projects.

Mayumi Nakano

Computational Group Manager

I joined the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) in January 2020. As the lab’s Grant Specialist, I am responsible for ensuring successful grant submissions as well as post-award support to ensure timely and accurate financial reporting. I have 25 years of experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. I hold an MBA from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Truman State University. I am also the president of the Skeptical Society of St. Louis, a grassroots organization which promotes science and critical thinking. I enjoy reading, sewing, gardening, going to concerts, and travel.

Missy Rung-Blue

Grants Specialist

Spencer Navrude

Laboratory Technician

Terri Burton

Administrative Assistant

Recent meyers lab alumni

I joined the Meyers Lab in September 2011 as a Ph.D bioinformatics student after finishing my undergraduate degree in computer science at the University of Delaware that same year. During my time in the Meyers Lab, I have worked on a variety of projects utilizing computational analyses to characterize small RNAs and the effects that they have on plants. I have focused most extensively on the development of tools to identify miRNAs and predict and validate miRNA targets. Outside the lab, I enjoy working out, watching basketball and football, watching movies, reading, and spending time with my wife and family.

Reza Hammond

PhD Student - Computational

I joined the Meyers lab in August 2018 and will stay for one year as a visiting researcher. My research is focused on the function of small RNAs over plant-fungi interactions, and I believe it will provide a new strategy for crop breeding utilizing small RNAs. Outside of the lab, I enjoy traveling, cooking and reading with my family.

Xiaoming Li

Visiting Researcher

My primary duties include administrative and grant preparation support for Principal Investigators Blake Meyers, Keith Slotkin, Sona Pandey and Veena Veena in the Plant Transformation Facility. I am responsible for budgets including projection reports, project management, annual reports, foreign travel, group and visitor meetings, personnel documents and a host of other administrative support duties. I have assisted with the submission of grants to the National Science Foundation, Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Donna Holesinger

DDPSC Grant Specialist

Alex Harkess

Postdoctoral Associate - Laboratory

I joined the Meyers lab in August 2013 after completing my master's degree in computer science at The University of Texas at San Antonio. My interests lie broadly in the development and application of computational approaches to solve biological problems. At Meyers lab, I am investigating a particular class of small RNAs (phasiRNAs) that are highly abundant in grass reproductive tissues. I use a number of computational approaches, including comparative genomics and machine learning, to characterize thousands of these phasiRNA producing loci across a diverse list of grass species.

Saleh Tamim

PhD Student - Computational

I began working in the Meyers Lab as an REU intern in the summer of 2018. Upon graduating from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Plant Science the following Spring, I rejoined the lab as a Laboratory Technician. I currently specialize in plant transformation and gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9, helping the lab to knockout small RNA biosynthesis genes in plants like barley, wheat, Arabidopsis, and more. I love studying plant genetics, diversity, biotechnology, and molecular biology. When not on the bench, you can often find me exploring the St Louis metro as a Pokemon Go trainer, watching anime, hiking, or traveling the world.

Byron Rusnak

Laboratory Assistant

Patrick Hoff

Laboratory Technician

I joined Meyers lab in July 2019 as a PhD Bioinformatics student. Prior to joining the lab I have done Bachelors in Biotechnology and MS in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Additionally, I have around 5 years experience working as a software associate (Bioinformatics) in Strand life sciences (Bangalore, India). My research interest lies in leveraging the computational skills and developing new strategies using statistical and machine learning approaches to solve the biological problems.

Pallavi Gupta

PhD Student - Computational

Joined the Meyers Lab in 2012, I have been working on small RNA imaging and localization. We have created a suite of exiting tools for RNA imaging and analysis, from single-molecular level to whole tissue, in both live and fixed samples.

Kun Huang

Postdoctoral Associate - Laboratory

Suresh Pokhrel

PhD Student - Laboratory

Vanessa Johnson

Laboratory Technician

See the complete list of Former Lab Members