Lab Members

José R Dinneny, Associate Professor, Biology

José received his BS from UC Berkeley in Plant Biology and Genetics in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and PhD from UC San Diego working with 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. In 2018 José joined the faculty at Stanford University in the Biology Department as an Associate Professor. He now serves as Director of Graduate Studies and chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.

José is a Wood’s Institute Leader in Interdisciplinary Collaborations (LiNC) fellow, an HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar, a National Research Foundation of Singapore fellow, an NIH Ruth Kirschstein post-doctoral fellow and an HHMI predoctoral fellow. He was recognized in 2017 by Science News magazine’s 2017 SN 10: Scientists to Watch list.

Josep “Pep” Vilarrasa-Blasi, Post-doc, LSRF and EMBO Fellow


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!

Tamara Vellosillo, 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 is our live imaging expert and is using these skills to understand the relationship between local tears in the cell wall that occur under salt stress and intracellular signaling that protects the cell.

Johannes Scharwies, post-doc

Johannes is our resident physiologist and is proud to say “Physiology is NOT boring!”  He did his PhD at the University of Adelaide in Stephen Tyerman’s lab studying water deficit in wine grape and Arabidopsis.  In our lab he is characterizing genetic variation in hydropatterning in maize and battling squirrels to study the in-field relevance of this newly discovered environmental response.

Yue Rui, post-doc, LSRF Fellow

Yue heralds from Charlie Anderson’s group at PSU where she studied a number of roles for the cell wall in plant and stomatal development.  Her work is now focused on determining which components of the wall are important in the osmotic stress sensing.  Legend has it that when she is not on the confocal she might be found in another darkened room singing Karaoke.

Carin Ragland, Stanford Biology PhD student

“Where’s the beef?”  Carin can tell you it’s not in the Beyond Meat burger, which uses advanced food science to create a more sustainable future through reducing meat consumption.  Carin worked there to develop meat-substitutes with defined physical properties that end up being Tasty.  She’s now focused on root slime (mucilage) and how this mysterious substance helps roots interact with the abiotic and biotic world.

Kevin Shih, Stanford Biochemistry PhD Student

A picture is worth a thousand words, but to Kevin, it’s much more interesting to take a thousand pictures.  Kevin is an avid photographer but his interest in the lives of other organisms goes beyond that and he is now focused on studying the underground lives of root-associated microbes using advanced engineering approaches and confocal microscopy.  Stay tuned for his next cover-worthy picture.

Andrea Dinneny, Research Scientist

When she’s not working at the bench, Andrea manages ordering and receiving and has made sure we have not run out of supplies despite the chaos the pandemic has had on the global supply chain. If we have pipette tips in the lab, thank Andrea!

Willian Viana, Stanford Biology PhD Student

Will is originally from Içara, a small town in southern Brazil and went to undergrad at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. Many moons ago, will completed a summer internship at the Carnegie Institution for Science in the Dinneny Lab, and enjoyed it so much that he applied for graduate school at Stanford (his words not mine)–Go us! Now a full member of the lab, Will is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which grasses regulate crown root development using Setaria as a model system.

Andrea Ramirez, Stanford Biology PhD Student

Andrea also grew up in Southern California in the town of Inglewood, home to Randy’s Donuts, though her favorite donut shop is still Yum Yum donuts. She moved north to earn her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz and further north to do her PhD at Stanford. Andrea is now building a root anatomical atlas of diverse species in the Brassicaceae family to understand how innovation in tissue functions help plants survive under stressful conditions.

Prashanth Ramachandran, Post-doc

Prashanth grew up in Chennai, India and then moved to Sweden to do his PhD studying the role of the stress hormone ABA in regulating the patterning of xylem in roots. Clearly preferring a more equatorial latitude, he joined our group to explore how species differ in their ABA-regulated gene networks and how this divergence affects root growth. Surprisingly, how ABA affects growth is markedly different between species, which highlights this signaling pathway as an important place to focus efforts on understanding how plants are able to grow in different environmental contexts.

Chris Dundas, Post-doc, TomKat Sustainability Fellow

Chris grew up in the North Eastern part of the USA and then traveled south-by-southwest to do his PhD at UT Austin where he developed engineering strategies for an electroactive species of soil bacteria. Chris is now moving from shocking to ground breaking discoveries and is leading an effort to understand how rhizosphere associated bacteria can be used to manipulate sink-source relationships in the plant to increase the delivery of carbon below ground.

Ziggy Rocco Dinneny, lab mascot and friend to all

Ziggy is a corgi with a big personality and fondness for human companionship. When he is not playing with the Dinneny family at home he enjoys coming to lab BBQs and sneaking a bone from unsuspecting children. Due to the lack of opposable thumbs, his pipetting skills are lacking but he does enjoy digging below ground to see what is hidden behind the veil of soil.

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