Margaret Frank

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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.


Hannah is a new grad student in the lab!

Hannah Thomas

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Hannah is a PhD student in the Frank Lab. She’s using tomato grafting to build a better understanding of the factors that influence long-distance RNA mobility. She also has a strong interest in under-investigated tropical crops like cacao and coffee, and one of her long term goals is to apply what she learns from tomato to develop grafting approaches for tropical crop improvement and protection.


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 cat memes.


Umair Ahsan

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Umair Ahsan is a postdoc working on long distance RNA movement in plants. He did his PhD from The University of Queensland Australia, working on molecular regulation of phase transition and flowering in avocado, mango and macadamia. His previous research work includes working at Aarhus University Denmark on Candidate gene identification in Lotus japonicus using insertional mutagenesis and genetic mapping. While his research work in BOKU Vienna Austria was focused on “virus-induced gene silencing and phenotyping for resistance against Fusarium head blight in Wheat.


Outside research, Umair enjoys playing tennis, cricket, tourism, hiking and watching TV.


Yuanzheng Yue

Yuanzheng Yue is a CSC funded postdoc working on interspecific periclinal chimeras in tomato. He earned his PhD at Huazhong Agricultural University China, where he did research on the anther development in petunia. He is a teacher in Nanjing Forestry University, where he is working on the aroma and color formation mechanism during flower development in Osmanthus fragrance and Lycoris longituba. One of his long term goals is to apply what he learns from tomato chimeras in woody ornamental crops improvement.

Outside the lab, Yuanzheng enjoys playing basketball and eating hot-pot with friends.


Nicole Szeluga

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. 

Alice Gevorgyan

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. 


Allie Hermanson

Allie is an undergraduate student working in the Frank Lab. She is a Plant Science major with a concentration in Plant Breeding and Genetics. Allie is working on various applications of plant grafting, as well as learning new laboratory techniques. She is excited to conduct independent research and perform plant transformations.

While not working in the lab, Allie enjoys baking pastries and desserts, playing soccer, and photography.


Nicole Hempel

Nicole is an undergraduate student in the Frank Lab. She is a Biology major concentrating in Plant Biology. In the lab, she is working on developing a protocol for the use of phloem-mobile fluorescent dye to visualize phloem unloading in tomato and pepper leaves. Nicole is excited to learn more about the scientific process and develop practical lab skills.


Her hobbies include mountain biking, obsessing over her house plants, and making botanical art. 


Former lab members

Sophia Monroe

Sophia is an undergraduate BTI intern working in the Frank Lab. She is majoring in biology at the University of Scranton and will graduate in May 2020. She is working on creating a program to identify leaf veins through fluorescent microscopy and machine learning. She is excited to conduct research and learn more about the plant biology field.


Outside of the lab, Sophia enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.


Jenny Probst

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Jenny helped set up the Frank Lab during the summer of 2018. Jenny will be completing her BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry this December at Missouri State University. In addition to setting up the Frank lab, Jenny also helped initiate the graft incompatibility project. 


Matthew Hecking

Matthew is the current lab technician helping to support and sustain research in the Frank Lab. He works on oedema formation in hybrid tomatoes and comparative leaf morphology in wild type versus GM tomatoes. Matthew completed his bachelor’s degree at Hampshire College, where he studied the chemical ecology of tobacco in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany.

Outside of the lab, Matthew enjoys experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, is an aspiring Adirondack 46er, and is a lover of Americana and folk music traditions.