NorthenLab: Exometabolomics linking genomes with environments to understand how webs of microbes sustain biomes

New Lab Member Highlight: Yezhang Ding

The Northen Lab is excited to welcome Yezhang Ding, a new project scientist with research experience in plant science. Learn more about Yezhang in the following interview.

What is your area of expertise? Could you talk a little bit about your background and what brought you to your field? 

I received my Ph.D. degree in Microbiology and Cell Science, but plant biology is my area of expertise.

What research topics or experimental techniques are you most excited to work on in the Northen Lab? 

I am interested in exploring the biological functions of specialized metabolites in plant-microbe interactions. Plants utilize chemicals to communicate with microorganisms, favoring beneficial microbes and killing harmful ones. I would like to use integrative approaches, including metabolomics, genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics and others to identify novel secondary metabolites involved in plant microbe interactions and explore how plants use these metabolites to benefit their own.

Could you name a favorite book, piece of music, video game, or movie?

I really like movies such as Titanic.

Do you have a favorite memory or experience from your research? 

Pollen can often induce allergic symptoms. Maize plant pollination was a challenge! We had to wear masks in order not to breathe pollen. Sometimes people might forget to wear masks–so they had to cover their face with one hand and pollinate with the other. Nowadays, it is much easier to remember to bring a mask.

 

Is there anything you are excited to see or do in the Bay Area? Or, if you have been here before, any recommendations? 

I have visited the Bay Area before (visited the Golden Gate Bridge and other landmarks), and I am excited to show my family the rest of the city; my daughter has been very excited to see locations such as the bridge!