Biorenewables Laboratory

BRL 4th Yandeau-Nelson Group Members

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Yandeau-Nelson Group Members


Principal Investigator:


Assistant Professor
Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology


Dr. Yandeau-Nelson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology at Iowa State University. She received her Ph.D. in Genetics, from the Interdepartmental Genetics program at Iowa State University in 2005, where her thesis research focused on the characterization of meiotic recombination in maize. Yandeau-Nelson then served as a post-doctoral scholar at Penn State University, where her work focused on the genetics of starch biosynthesis in plants. Dr. Yandeau-Nelson's current research interests integrate classical and molecular genetics with biochemical, metabolomic and computational approaches to study the biosynthetic and regulatory genetic networks of metabolic traits, to increase both the fundamental knowledge of metabolism and to use that knowledge for practical applications (i.e. plant breeding for resistance to stresses and the development of biorenewable chemicals and fuels).


Postdoctoral Research Associate:

Tian LIN photo

Tian LIN
Postdoctoral Research Associate


Research project summary: To analyze the transcriptome of maize silk with different genetic background, different developmental stage and under different stresses. To identify candidate genes regulating SL synthesis in maize silk.

Hometown: Qingzhou, Shandong province, China. Degrees: BS in Biology, Shandong University, 2008; PhD in Plant Biology, Iowa State University, 2014. Thesis title: Mobile mRNA: a long distance signaling system in potato. Research interest/s: Dissecting the metabolic and genetic networks that underlie the synthesis of surface lipids that accumulate on the silks of maize. Likes best about working with the Yandeau-Nelson group: I really like the friendly atmosphere among all the people in this group. Diversity of the backgrounds of group members and the close collaboration offers me great opportunity in my research and academic development. Fun fact: My favorite activities are cooking, sewing and traveling.


Graduate Students:

Keting CHEN photo

Keting CHEN


Research project summary: Explore computational methods to identify metabolites detected by FT-MS; establish the metabolic networking of hydrocarbons on plant surfaces

Hometown: Qingdao, Shandong Province, China. Previous degrees: BS in Biotechnology, Shandong Agriculture University, Taian, Shandong, China. PhD in Horticulture, Iowa State University. ISU graduate program: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology PhD program. Research interests: FT-MS and metabolomics. Likes best about working with the Yandeau-Nelson group: Very friendly research team, with people from diverse backgrounds. It is a great enjoyment to work with people who are so different from me. Fun fact: I have done simultaneous translation from Chinese into English on several occasions, both private and public; it is one of my hobbies.

Bri VIDRINE photo


Research project summary: Profiling hydrocarbon phenotypes in maize silks to identify regulatory gene candidates for further characterization in order to shed light on hydrocarbon biosynthesis. Additionally, I am looking at cotton surface lipid profiles to investigate changes in regulation with respect to polyploidization and domestication.

Hometown: Dana Point, CA. Previous degree: BS in Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz. ISU graduate program: Interdepartmental Genetics PhD program. Research interests: Gene regulation. Likes best about working with the Yandeau-Nelson group: The collaborative environment and the exposure to a breadth of experience in multiple fields. Fun fact: I grew up making wine with my dad and worked at a French winery for a summer.



Reid CLAUSSEN photo

Research Associate and Floor Manager

Responsibilities summary: Coordinator of metabolite extraction team for large-scale experiments; BRL 4th floor manager

Hometown: Bettendorf, IA. Degree: BS in Biology, Iowa State University. Likes best about working with the Yandeau-Nelson group: I really enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunities that the Yandeau-Nelson and Nikolau groups have offered me. I find myself working harder than I ever had before, and I attribute this to the community of researchers with whom I interact. Fun fact: I am part of a family-run cattle business called 4RC. It stands for Ron, Ross, Ryan and Reid Claussen. My sister and I created a website for the business.

Derek LONEMAN photo

Research Associate

Responsibilities summary: Coordinating and conducting large-scale surface lipid extractions in maize and employing GC-MS analysis of the data; managing high-volume datasets and lab maintenance; managing undergraduate team and training new team members

Hometown: Ankeny, IA. Degree: BS in Biochemistry, Iowa State University. Likes best about working with the Yandeau-Nelson group: The opportunities to learn about and participate in a wide range of research. Fun fact: I've been playing drums in an alternative rock band since seventh grade.


Undergraduate Student:

Umnia MAHGOUB photo


Hometown: Ames, IA. ISU major: Genetics. Academic classification: Freshman. What she does in the lab: I profile surface lipid accumulation on maize silks using metabolomics methods. Career goals: I would love to work in the public health field. Epidemiology is currently my top choice! Likes best about working with the Yandeau-Nelson group: There are so many different personalities here, yet everyone is so friendly, patient, and very welcoming. Fun fact: I am mixed-handed. I write and use scissors with my left hand, but play tennis and do almost everything else with my right hand.



Keting CHEN photo

Elizabeth Carino
Rotation Graduate Student

Rotation research project: Evaluate the fatty acid production of Bacilius subtilis strains

Hometown: Hyattsville, MD. Previous degree: BS in Biotechnology, Stevenson University, MD. ISU graduate program: Interdepartmental Genetics PhD program. Research interests: Plant behavior, microbiology and pathogens. Liked best about working with the Yandeau-Nelson group: I liked the fact that there was always someone around to help you if you needed, no matter the time or day of the week. There was always someone working, even if you were working late on a weekend, so you would never feel lonely. Fun fact: I love riding roller-coasters and other activities that involve heights as a way to try to overcome my fear of them. (To this date, this is one of the fears that I have yet to completely overcome.)