Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.05.21 PM.pngDaniel Schachtman – daniel.schachtman at
Daniel Schachtman Curriculum Vitae
The lab PI.  I have been interested in roots and how they take up minerals from soil since the beginning of my career.  First, I started studying how cereals roots exclude sodium making plants more salt tolerant, then I went on to cloning sodium and potassium transporters, then onto cloning and characterizing other membrane transporters, then to studying how root respond to low nutrient supply. I took a detour in 2008 and worked at Monsanto for 5 years trying to create a corn plant that was more nitrogen use efficient. Now I am happily doing research and some administration at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln where the lab is focused on soil microbe interactions with roots and abiotic stress tolerance in plants. My hobbies are biking, swimming, gardening, wine, food and stock picking.

IMG_0463.JPGDr. Peng Wang – Postdoc- pwang16 at
I come from Wuhan city in China. I spent 13 years at Huazhong Agricultural University from a freshman to Ph.D. student. I received my PhD in 2012. After graduation I continued working on the molecular mechanism of the flowering time until I found a postdoctoral position at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in July 2013. In Aberdeen, I worked on a set of root casparian strip and suberin mutants of Arabidopsis to decipher how these anatomical features affect the nutrient and water uptake. In July 2015 I moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to begin my second postdoc. My current research is focused on the role of root exudates in regulating rhizosphere microbial communities. In my spare time I go fishing, play basketball, snooker balls, and ping pong. I love listening to music especially the R&B and soft rock, sometimes Karaoke is my best way to relax.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 12.07.34 PM.pngMorgan McPherson – Graduate Student – morgan.r.mcpherson at
I am originally from Bismarck, ND. In the fall of 2015, I started the first year of my PhD in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. I received my bachelor’s degree from UNL in plant biology with emphasis in biotechnology in May 2015.

My graduate research project includes comparing the similarities and differences in microbial communities present in the roots, rhizosphere and soil of plants in alkaline soils. I am becoming the lab expert on culturing microbes and am using metagenomics to analyze and visualize microbial community structure. I enjoy field work as well as lab work, and I’m excited to expand my knowledge of bioinformatics. 

Outside of the lab, I enjoy movies, tending to my abundance of indoor plants as well my outdoor seasonal garden, reading books, creating terrariums and spending time with my cat, Mr. Boggs.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 12.15.30 PM.pngYen Ning Chai – Undergraduate Student – yenning_hala at
I am from Johor, Malaysia and my hometown, Simpang Renggam, is a great place similar to Lincoln, lovely and peaceful. I received by bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Currently, I am a graduate student in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. My research focuses on diazotrophs associated with sorghum, especially those that promote sorghum grow under nitrogen depleted condition. My current work includes developing a high-throughput phenotyping model for sorghum in the greenhouse as well as screening our culture collection for diazotrophic bacteria.

Apart from studying and working, I spend most of my time playing with my guinea pig and eating. In my future, I would like to travel around the world to taste dishes from different countries.

Ellen IMG_0504
Ellen Marsh – Lab Manager – emarsh2 at

I am originally from California, where I completed my MS in Biological Sciences at California State University East Bay. I have 25+ years experience in a broad range of laboratory research, including molecular biology, plant physiology, tissue culture, and proteomics.   Currently I am the research lab manager, and involved in a number of projects, including summer field collections, DNA extractions of plant roots, soil, and rhizosphere, and the culturing and identification of microbes. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, cooking, sewing, bird watching, running and biking.

stephanielabStephanie Futrell – Research Technician – sfutrell2 at
I am originally from Charleston, South Carolina. I completed my bachelor’s degree in genetics at Clemson University where I was also involved with research on maize senescence. I currently work on the DOE root microbiome project collecting samples and preparing them for DNA extraction.  Outside of the lab, I enjoy crocheting, knitting, Netflix, attending sporting events, and playing with my cat, Phantom.

allynlabAllyn Pella – Project Coordinator – apella2 at
I am a lifelong resident of Nebraska and alumni of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Previously, I worked for the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office for 9 years doing administrative work and organizing data.  Currently, I am project coordinator for the Department of Energy Sorghum Systems project grant.  Duties include organizing data, coordinating field work, and providing administrative assistance. Interests include cooking, gardening, and collecting vintage items.

Undergraduate Workers 2017

ibrahimlabIbrahim Alnajem – Undergraduate Student – alnajemi at
Currently attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in biochemistry and minoring in math and chemistry.  Plans to go into the medical field.  Interests include hanging out with friends and family, and playing soccer.

zachlabZachary Cook – Undergraduate Student – zacharyalancook at
Currently attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in agronomy and focusing on integrated crop management.  Plans to work in agricultural sector in Nebraska.  Interests include nature, film, books, videogames, music, podcasts, memes, and anything pop culture.

melodylabNghi (Melody) Nguyen – Undergraduate Student – nghimelody.nguyen at
Currently attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in biochemistry.  Plans to go to graduate school for biochemistry or biomedical sciences with a possible focus on cancer research.  Interests include traveling and taking photos of the places she travels.

katelynlabKatelyn Nielson – High School Student – Nebraska City High School
Plans to attend University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in biochemistry focusing on genetic engineering.  Interests include playing the alto saxophone in high school concert and jazz band, being involved in FFA, and competing on speech team.

lanelabLane Uhing – Undergraduate Student – laneuhing at
Currently attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in biochemistry, minoring in humanities in medicine.  Plans to attend medical school to become a family practice physician.  Interests include spending time with family and friends, working out, playing basketball, hiking, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.

alanlabAlan Vandenberg – Undergraduate Student – avandenberg_11 at
Currently attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in agronomy research careers.  Plans to rent his own farm land and expand his farm and eventually own his own land.


Summer undergraduate workers with Daniel Schachtman 2017 (missing from picture is Melody Nguyen)