Lab Members


 Dinneny lab, June 2017

IMG_2278José R. Dinneny, Associate Professor


José grew up in Reseda, CA in the former orange orchards of the San Fernando Valley.  He got his BS from UC Berkeley in Plant Biology and Genetics in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology.  He got his research start as an undergraduate intern in the lab of Robert L. Fischer.  He went to UC San Diego to get his PhD working in the labs of Detlef Weigel at the Salk Institute for Biological Science and Martin Yanofsky in the Division of Biology, UCSD.  His work focused on the cloning and characterization of JAGGED and NUBBIN in flower and fruit development.  He then went to Duke University to do his post-doctoral studies with Philip Benfey.  There he utilized Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) to develop the first tissue-specific map of transcriptional changes occurring during abiotic stress.

José established his independent lab at the Temasek Lifesciences Laboratory (TLL) in Singapore with a joint appointment at the National University of Singapore, Department of Biological Sciences. He was an inaugural fellow of the National Research Foundation, Singapore.  José moved his lab in 2011 to the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Plant Biology and was a Staff Member until 2017. In 2018 José became an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at Stanford University and the lab will move to Gilbert Hall in March 2019.

José is a member of the Science Policy Committee at the American Society of Plant Biologists, a elected member and Tressurer of the North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee, an Associate Editor at Plant Physiology, an HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar and a 2017 Science News SN10 Scientists to Watch.  When José is not thinking about the roots of environmental responses he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking and fiddling with his guitars.

Lina Duan, Postdoc


Lina is a former graduate student and current postdoc in the lab.  Lina’s recent paper showed that the endodermis is an important signaling center during the regulation of lateral root growth in high saline conditions.  She is extending this work using a genetic approach to identify new genes that control the spatial patterning of ABA responses under stress.



Wei Feng, Postdoc

Wei (the one in blue stripes) received his PhD from Indiana University where he worked with Scott Michaels on various projects ranging from flower time regulation to heterochromatin organization in Arabidopsis. His interest in the inflorescence continues as he is now working on a collaborative project to understand how drought stress affects the development of maize inflorescence. At the same time, he expands his research from shoot to root to study how plants sense osmotic stress by generating novel reporter lines.

Heike Lindner, Postdoc


Heike comes from the lab of Ueli Grossniklaus from the University of Zurich where she worked on plant fertilization.  At Carnegie, Heike is interested in understanding the secret life of roots in soil.  Heike will use the recently developed GLO-Roots system (Growth and Luminescence Observatory for Roots, U.S. patent application 13/970,960), which allows the study of root architecture and gene expression from germination to senescence in soil-grown plants using dual color luminescence imaging. Heike exploit natural variation between Arabidopsis thaliana accessions to identify genes involved in the response of root systems to simulated drought. Any loci identified will NOT be named after Etruscan goddesses of fertility, however.

Therese LaRue, Graduate Student, Stanford University


Therese is a graduate student originally from Boston, MA. She completed her undergraduate degree at Skidmore College and did internships at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Cold Spring Harbor. When she’s not “partying with trees”, Therese is working to understand the adaptive responses of roots to salinity in soil.

DSC04943Josep Vilarasa-Blasi, Postdoc

Josep or “Pep” comes to us from the lab of Ana Caño-Delgado’s lab at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics in Spain where he studied the role of BRAVO in regulating Brassinosteroid responses and root development.  He is deftly moving his studies to single-celled organisms such as Chlamydomonas to identify key regulators of osmo-signaling. Bravo, Pep!

IMG_4967Ankit Srinivas, Lab Assistant

Ankit is a Bay Area native and super excited about working with the GLO-Roots team to perform our first GWAS experiment.  Ankit is interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine and is proud of his pooch-carrying capacity.  Right now all he’s lifting are rhizotron laden-boxes, which I’m sure is just as fun.  Ankit’s enthusiasm is an inspiration to us all, even GLO-Bot the rhizotron-handling robot.

20160826_115634Ying Sun, Graduate Student, Stanford University

Ying comes to our lab from Las Vegas where she learned that what happens in the Dinneny lab stays in PNAS, Plant Cell and eLife ;-). Before joining the Stanford Biology program she  did her Bachelor’s at UCSD, working in the lab of Steve Kay at odd hours providing manual automation for their circadian studies.  Today she is starting a new project in the lab to understand how ABA-dependent gene regulatory networks evolve in the Brassicaceae to confer salt tolerance in halophytes.

img_1820Jennifer Brophy, Postdoc

Jenn is a Cal grad (“Go Bears!”) and received her PhD from MIT working with synthetic biologist extraordinare Chris Voigt where she developed methods to tune gene expression and engineer recalcitrant species of bacteria.  Seeing the tremendous potential of manipulating the genomes of plants, she’s joined the lab to develop new methods for plant transformation in cereal crops and is interested in synthetic environments as a means of manipulating the lifecycle of plants beyond the norm.

Vellosillo, Postdoc/Lab Manager

Tamara comes from Spain where she worked with Carmen Castresana studying the role of Oxylipins in the regulation of growth and the cell wall.  Being interested in how walls are built she decided to come to the US (pre-Trump!) for a postdoc with Carnegie’s former director Chris Somerville at the Berkeley Energy Biosciences Institute where she studied novel factors controlling cellulose biosynthesis.  Tamara joins our team to help make 2017 the year of the Chlamy and is characterizing the large number of mutants we’ve identified in the osmo-sensory pathway.

10551120_10203927826855855_5662259582038329874_nCesar Cuevas-Velazquez, Postdoc

Cesar joins our group from Alejandra Covarrubias-Robles at the Instituto de Biotechnologia, UNAM, Mexico where he used NMR and biochemical techniques to understand how LEA proteins act as osmotic stress dependent chaperones.  In our group Cesar will explore a very touchy subject and develop fluorescence-based sensor proteins for detecting osmotic and other mechanical cues in the cell using high-throughput approaches.

AJD pic for website.jpg

Alexandra “Jazz” Dickinson

Jazz joins our lab as a visiting post-doc from Philip Benfey’s group at Duke University.  Jazz is a Beckman Fellow and interested in how derivatives of the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway function as signaling compounds to affect root system architecture.  With training in chemistry, she has bonded tightly with the members of our lab.

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