Former and current lab members

Professor Simon Gilroy

Simon likes getting his hands dirty in the garden and making people laugh. Simon recently spent a year on sabbatical at the Kennedy Space Center. Simon regularly designs spaceflight experiments with NASA and loves sharing his passion for science with the general public with organizations including local National Public Radio (NPR), Science, National Geographic, the New York times, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC)  and was recently interviewed for Japanese television. 

Warning: His passion for science is as infectious as his laugh!

Dr. Sarah Swanson

Sarah is awesome on every microscope (Electron, Confocal, Epifluorescence and even Fold Scope), keeps everything in the lab working to schedule and enjoys playing the flute in her spare time. She is the veteran of multiple spaceflight experiments including TOAST, TOAST2, and TOAST3 aka APEX05. She is currently planning future missions code named BLASTOFF, TICTOC and SPECTRUM.

She is the Director of the Newcomb Imaging Center at the University of Wisconsin - Madison

Dr. Arko Bakshi

This MMA warrior is not afraid of anything! He loves demonstrating his bravery when samples return from the International Space Station. Arko's PhD was focused on the molecular response of Arabidopsis thaliana to ethylene signaling. When Arko is not in the laboratory or dojo he can often be found on the stage performing in traditional Indian music and dance shows, or acting in plays. 

Dr. Burcu Alprekin

After completing her undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Istanbul Technical University (Turkey) Burcu came to the US to focus my research on plant  genetic at Cold Spring Habour working in the field with wheat and barley. Since moving to UW Madison to work with Prof Jean Michel Ane and Prof Simon Gilroy she has been working on plant microbe interactions. 

Dr. Sabrina Chin

Sabrina's passion for microscopy, flavonoid biochemistry and plant science has taken her on a journey of scientific exploration across three continents.  Currently, she uses a combination of molecular, cellular and physiological analysis methods to assess plant sensitivity to gravity and stresses related to microgravity. 

Former laboratory research team members

Dr. Richard Barker

This space cadet loves plants, genetics and bioinformatics almost as much as his dogs Simba and Savannah. He is the co-chair of the NASA Plants Advanced Working Group (AWG) and a member of numerous other NASA GeneLab collaborative working groups.

He is the co-founder of The Collaborative Science Environment and .

Dr. Jessica Fernandez

Jessica is the loving mother of a wonderful family and is also a keen molecular biologist with a passion for microscopy! After recently defending her thesis on plasmodesmata signaling during her PhD at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Fernandez has decided to turn her attention towards calcium signaling using Arabidopsis and Nicotiana as model organisms.  

Johnny Johns

Johnny is a Ph.D. student in the lab whose research investigates the molecular mechanisms of rapid ion signaling in plants - the plant nervous system! When she isn't in the lab creating breathtaking videos of calcium waves, she can be found with a book in her hand or teaching group fitness and Zumba classes.

Ariel Sorg

Ariel is a Ph.D. student studying the relationship between stress, growth, and defense using a plant-torturing robot. She hopes her work will contribute to sustainable and resilient agriculture in the face of climate change. When not in the lab she spends her time baking, knitting, or playing with her rabbit.

Major Lucia White

Lucia is a Major in the United States Space Force on loan to us in the lab while she is obtaining her masters degree. She's excited to bring AstroBotany research to her future assignments as an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy. When she's not in the lab dreaming about floating in space with her favorite combinations of plants and fungi, you can find her hitting the gym or indoor skydiving. 

This high-flying space cadet knows the sky is not the limit!

Find out more about Luci's research at her website by following this link  

The Gilroy Lab has a lot of friends, students and collaborators that have contributed to our research through the years. 

Dr. Natasha Bilkney

Dr. Dirk Spencer

Dr. Richard Hilleary

Dr. Cullen Vens

Dr. Masatsugu Toyota

Satoe Sawai-Toyota

Dr. Won-Gyu Choi

Su-Hwa Kim

Dr. Gabriele Monshausen

Dr. Philip Day

Chen Shi

Victoria Kramer

Dr. Jeremiah Fasano

Dr. Gregory Richter

Scott MacCleery

Dr. Elison Blancaflor

Dr. Gioia Massa

Dr. Tatiana Bibikova

Dr. Sian Ritchie

Dr. Tobias Jacob

Dr. Carol Wymer