Lab Members

Frank Lab
Frank Lab Members
Frank Lab
Frank Lab
Frank Lab Members
Frank Lab Members
Frank Lab Members
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Dr. Margaret Frank

Principle Investigator

Margaret is a molecular plant biologist who is broadly interested in understanding how multicellular organisms communicate across tissues and organ systems, and applying this knowledge towards sustainable crop production. Margaret joined Cornell's School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) in July 2018. Prior to moving to Cornell, Margaret was an NSF PGRP Postdoctoral Fellow at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis, MO, where she studied the dynamics of graft junction formation and graft-transmissible RNA movement in the Chitwood and Meyers labs. 

Margaret earned her PhD at Cornell, working with Mike Scanlon on the evolution of shoot meristem patterning in early land plant lineages.

When she's not doing science, Margaret loves to run, travel, and drink coffee.

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Hannah Thomas

Ph.D. Candidate

Hannah is a Ph.D. candidate interested in how inter-species grafting occurs. She's using tomato and pepper (Pepmato and Tomepper) as a model for herbaceous graft incompatibility. She is working to understand the factors that determine graft compatibility and interspecies communication. She is a USDA Predoctoral Research Fellow.

Hannah earned her BS at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, where she did research on the specific T-regulatory cells important during pregnancy in rats. 

When she's not doing science, Hannah enjoys running, swimming, and her pets Sebastian and Tater Tot.


Nicole Szeluga

Ph.D. Student

Nicole is a PhD student in the Frank Lab.  She's working on re-engineering soybean flowers to attract pollinators, and ultimately enable soybean to take advantage of hybrid vigor. Nicole graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. Her undergraduate thesis focused on gene interaction for flower development in Arabidopsis, under the guidance of Dr. Zhongchi Liu.

Aside from research, Nicole loves ballroom/social dancing, Broadway musicals, and doting on her high maintenance cat, Bentley. 


Brandon Williams

Ph.D. Student

Brandon is a Ph.D. student in the Frank Lab. He is working on engineering a biofluorescent reporter system in tomatoes that would alert famers to nitrogen and phosphorus-deficient soil conditions by performing a “three-step hijack” of the endogenous c-terminally encoded peptide (CEP) system.

His alma mater is the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland where he majored in Conservation Biology and minored in Chemistry.

His undergraduate research focused on elucidating the symbiotic relationship between angiosperms and pink-pigmented facultative methylotrophic (PPFM) bacteria.


Arielle Johnson

PhD Candidate

Arielle is a Ph.D. candidate in the Frank Lab.  She is interested in the connections between plant development and specialized metabolism.  Arielle’s work focuses on latex chemistry and laticifer development in the genus Euphorbia.  She did her undergraduate degree at Brown University, where she majored in biology and worked on imaging pollen tubes and quantifying soil respiration.
Outside of the lab, Arielle enjoys hiking, botanizing, playing musical instruments, and reading.


Hamid Razifard

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Hamid is an evolutionary plant biologist interested in changes happening in plant species over time. He is interested in evolutionary changes caused by both natural selection as well as selection by humans. Hamid joined the Frank lab in October 2020. Before joining the lab, Hamid worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UMass Amherst with Ana Caicedo studying the domestication history of the cultivated tomato using genomic tools. Currently, Hamid's studies have two main foci: 1) understanding the domestication history of the cultivated eggplant; 2) understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in graft computability between eggplant and tomato.
Hamid has received his PhD from University of Connecticut, with Donald Les as his advisor, on the systematics of waterworts (Elatine), a group of aquatic dicots with terrestrial ancestors.
In his free time, Hamid enjoys running, hiking, photography, botanizing, birding, camping, cooking, and reading.


Alice Gevorgyan

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alice is an undergraduate working in the Frank lab. She is majoring in Plant Sciences with a concentration in Plant Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology. Alice is excited to take part in the research being conducted in the Frank lab and to learn new lab techniques and skills. She is particularly interested in growing genetically modified plants and imaging graft junctions.

In her free time, Alice enjoys playing her clarinet, reading, and photography. 


Diego Hernandez

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Diego Hernandez is a Biology major concentrating in Plant Biology. His areas of interest include plant genetics, genetic modification, and biofortification. He is looking forward to learning valuable laboratory skills and techniques. Outside of school, he loves playing sports, staying active, dancing, and meeting new people.

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Guinevere Goldberg

Scientist in training

Gwenny joined the lab in November 2019. Since then she has provided her expertise in tomato taste-testing. She can be found joining Margaret in meetings, stomping in puddles, or enjoying daycare.

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Audrey Widmier


Audrey is a post-baccalaureate intern in the Frank Lab, under the NSF REPS intern program. She is interested in how plants can molecularly adapt to abiotic stressors in order to prepare for future (and current!) climate changes. Audrey completed her undergraduate degree at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where she majored in biology and minored in environmental studies.

Outside of the lab, Audrey likes to hike, boat, try out new recipes, and hang out with her cat Felix.


Past Members


Nicole Hempel


Allie Hermanson


Paul Ren-Huang Chong


Yuanzheng Yue


Jenny Probst


Dr. Kevin Hines


Umair Ahsan


Matthew Hecking

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Sophia Monroe