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Daniel Schachtman daniel.schachtman at

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 tolerance, 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.  Then I took a detour and worked at Monsanto for 5 years trying to create a corn plant that was more nitrogen use efficient.   I’ve landed at the University Of Nebraska, Lincoln happily working on soil microbe interactions with roots which is currently the major focus of my lab.

My hobbies are biking, swimming, gardening, wine, food and stock picking.

Dr. Peng Wang – Postdoc- pwang16 at

I come from Wuhan city in China. I spent 13 years at Huazhong Agricultural University from a freshman to the Ph.D. student, and I received my PhD in 2012. IMG_0463.JPGAfter graduation I continued working on the molecular mechanism of the flowering time until I found a postdoctoral position in 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 feature affect the nutrient and water uptake. In July 2015 I moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to begin my second postdoctoral life. My current research is focusing 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 have a relaxation.

Dr. Ying Yang – Postdoc


I grew up beside Yangtze River in China in Wuhan which is in the middle of China with 166 lakes. During my PhD I contributed to the construction of rice mutant library by using T-DNA and Tos17. I studied the function of two late-flowering mutants, one which is in the circadian clock pathway and the other which is involved in  protein degradation. After my Ph. D. at Huazhong Agricultural University, I did a first postdoc at Sainsbury laboratory in Norwich, UK.  There I worked on the project about field selection of novel disease resistance alleles using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technique.  In the July of 2015, I came to UNL. As the postdoctoral fellow I am continuing to do genome editing to create knockout out lines for root exudates. I will also conduct analyses of microbial communities in soils using molecular methods and bioinformatics techniques.  I love nature very much and enjoy the outdoors. My favorite sport is swimming. I also like reading and watching TV which spurs my imagination and creativity.

Morgan McPherson – Graduate Student – morgan.r.mcpherson at

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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 of all kinds, creating terrariums and spending time with my cat, Mr. Boggs.

Ellen Marsh – Lab Manager – emarsh2 at
Ellen IMG_0504I 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.

Yen Ning Chai – Undergraduate Student – yenning_hala at

I am from Johor, Malaysia, currently attending University of Nebraska-Lincoln. My hometown, Simpang Renggam, is a great place similar to Lincoln, lovely and peaceful. Here at UNL, I am majoring in BiocheScreen Shot 2015-11-27 at 12.15.30 PM.pngmistry as well as a minor in Business. In the lab, I am working with nitrogen fixing endophytes residing in sorghum root, trying to culture them and identify them. Ultimately, we want to find out how the nitrogen fixing endophytes affect sorghum growth.

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.