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Staff Directory


Matthew Willmann, Ph.D.

Matthew R. Willmann is a broadly trained plant geneticist and genomicist interested in the regulation of gene expression. He received his undergraduate degree in General Plant Science in 1999 from Cornell University. At Cornell, Matthew was a Cornell Tradition Fellow and Merrill Presidential Scholar, and performed his honors research in the plant pathology lab of Bill Fry. In 2004, he received his Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard University, where he was an NSF Predoctoral Fellow in Jen Sheen’s laboratory. His dissertation work used functional genomics to identify four paralogous calcium-dependent protein kinases involved in innate immunity in Arabidopsis thaliana. Matthew then moved to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was first an NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow in Scott Poethig’s laboratory and then a research associate in Brian Gregory’s lab. In the Poethig lab, he studied developmental timing in plants and performed a large-scale genomics experiment to delineate the Arabidopsis vegetative transcriptome. In the Gregory lab, he studied various aspects of plant RNA biology, including RNA binding proteins, RNA silencing, and the regulation of translation using high-throughput sequencing. Most of this work was done with Arabidopsis, but he also worked with the moss Physcomitrella patens and maize. As part of these projects, Matthew made many transgenics, and began generating mutants via the CRISPR/Cas9 system in Arabidopsis and homologous recombination in P. patens. Matthew has been highly interested in transgenic technologies since his undergraduate days, and in an attempt to increase their acceptance has given many talks for the public about how transgenic plants are made.