Research interests: I am interested in plant molecular genetics as related to physiology and development.  That is, which genes and hormones make plants grow the way they do and respond to the environment the way they do, and what mechanisms regulate those genes and hormones?  Much of my work focuses on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to study regulation of the hormone gibberellin.  My work involves basic Mendelian cross-pollination experiments, studies of plant development, microscopy, and molecular biology, and makes use of campus technology including a semi-automated DNA sequencer, quantitative PCR, and an epifluorescence-equipped microscope.

On-going research includes the following areas:

  • Characterization of Fertilization Independent Seed (FIS) effects on gibberellin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis
  • Characterization of Homeodomain glabrous (HDG11) effects on gibberellin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis and identification of HDG11 regulatory targets
  • Phenotype characterization of MIPS2 mutants in Arabidopsis (in collaboration with Dr. Glenda Gillaspy of Virginia Tech)
  • Ragweed cDNA sequencing and genome analysis (in collaboration with Dr. David Robinson and Dr. Joann Lau of Bellarmine University)
  • Evolutionary analysis of gibberellins biosynthetic genes across sequenced monocot and dicot model organisms (in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Zufall of University of Houston)

Student Research:

All of the above described projects have included student participation and / or offer opportunities for future student participation.  Below are examples of student presentations based on this research.

  • Whiteside, T. † and Fleet, C.M.  Understanding the FIS genes’ effect on the gibberellic acid pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana.  Association for Southeastern Biology, Asheville, NC (2010)
    Abstract published in the July 2010 Southeastern Biology.
  • Hai, Xueying Sydney. †  Hox gene regulation in gibberellin biosynthesis on a molecular level.  Beta Beta Beta regional meeting/ Association for Southeastern Biology, Asheville, NC (2010)
    Abstract published in the July 2010 Southeastern Biology.
  • Fleet, C.M. and Thom, A.† Transcriptional regulation of gibberellin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Association for Southeastern Biology, Birmingham, AL.  (2009)
    Abstract published in July 2009 Southeastern Biology.  56, 319
    † undergraduate co-author

Student projects have also resulted in the publication of 17 cDNA sequences to GenBank, an international repository of DNA sequence information @ 

Upcoming Research:

All of the above-described projects are on-going.  I am also happy to collaborate with or mentor students who have their own ideas for molecular biology and genetics-related research projects.


Educational Background

  • B.S., Tufts University
  • Ph.D., Duke University