Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation

Our People

Charles Anderson profile photoCharles T. Anderson
Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-863-4736
E-mail: cta3@psu.edu
Research Website
My research group studies the synthesis, modification, and degradation of plant cell walls, focusing on wall polymer network rearrangements during cell growth and on functional interactions between pectins and cellulose.
Dan CosgroveDaniel J. Cosgrove
Biology Department, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-863-3892
Email: dcosgrove@psu.edu
Research Website
With a research background in the biophysics and biochemistry of plant cell wall growth, my research group studies the interactions of plant cell wall matrix polysaccharides with cellulose and the biomechanical consequences of disrupting these interactions.
Enrique Gomez portraitEnrique D. Gomez
Department of Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-867-3428
Email: edg12@psu.edu
Research Website
Our group is interested in applying advanced X-ray scattering techniques for the study of plant cell walls. Our emphasis is on the study of cellulose structure to elucidate assembly.
Karl T. MuellerEsther W. Gomez
Department of Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-867-4732
Email: ewgomez@engr.psu.edu
Research Website
Our research team uses advanced x-ray scattering techniques to elucidate the structure, organization, and crystallinity of cellulose within plant cell walls.
Ying Gu profile photoYing Gu
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Penn State
Phone: 814-867-3827
Email: yug13@psu.edu
Department Website
Our group’s research aims to understand cellulose biosynthesis and the role of cytoskeleton in primary cell walls: identification and characterization of novel proteins associated with cellulose synthase complexes using forward and reverse genetics approaches.
Candace HaiglerCandace Haigler
Department of Crop Sciences, North Carolina State University
Phone: 540-231-4601
Email: Candace_Haigler@ncsu.edu
Department Website
The Haigler lab will perform cryo-fracture deep-etch transmission electron microscopy in combination with immunolabeling of particular protein constituents to explore further the composition and function of the cellulose synthesizing complex. The aim is to understand the composition and operation of the cellulose synthesizing nanomachine from a bioengineering perspective.
Mei HongMei Hong
Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Phone: 617-253-5521
Email: meihong@mit.edu
Research Website
My group employs advanced multidimensional solid-state NMR spectroscopic techniques to investigate molecular-level cellulose-hemicellulose and cellulose-pectin interactions in various plant cell walls, to determine the high-resolution structure of crystalline and amorphous cellulose, and to investigate how proteins bind carbohydrates for function.
Seong KimSeong H. Kim
Department of Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-863-4809
Email: shkim@engr.psu.edu
Research Website
Our group has expertise in vibration spectroscopy and interfacial characterization. The Kim group is applying sum-frequency-generation (SFG) vibration spectroscopy to plant cell walls to study structure of crystalline cellulose and how interactions with other matrix polysaccharides influence the cellulose structure.
James Kubicki profile photoJames D. Kubicki
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso
Phone: 915-747-6085
Email: jkubicki@utep.edu
University Website
James D. Kubicki has focused his research on using computational chemistry in tandem with experimental and analytical techniques to solve problems a wide variety of systems from silicate glasses, oxide nanoparticles, natural organic matter in soils, and bacterial extracellular polymers. Within CLSF, Kubicki has researched cellulose structure, plant cell wall component interactions and the generation/formation of cellulose.
Manish Kumar profile photoManish Kumar
Department of Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-865-7519
Email: manish.kumar@psu.edu
Research Website
Our research will focus on plant Cellulose Synthase (CesA) and Cellulose Synthase Complex (CSC) structures in native lipids and reconstituted two dimensional crystals using single particle electron microscopy and electron crystallography.
Chang-Jun Liu profile photoChang-Jun Liu
Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology Department at Stony Brook University / Department of Biology at Brookhaven National Laboratory
Phone: 631-344-2966
Email: cliu@bnl.gov
Research Website
My research group studies how lignin is synthesized and deposited, how the biosynthetic process is regulated, and how lignification affects cell wall structure. My CLSF research project investigates the alteration of cell wall structures of plant materials with disturbed lignification to understand how walls can be physically strengthened without extensive cross linking of lignin polymers.
B. Tracy NixonB. Tracy Nixon
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-863-4904, 814-777-1091
Email: btn1@psu.edu
Departmental Website
My CLSF studies are expected to reveal 3D electron density maps for structures of cellulose synthase complex (CSC) in resting and catalytic phases, from which we will learn how the structure of resting CSCs evolve when triggered to synthesize glucan chains for assembly into cellulose microfibrils. To do this work, we improve expression of membrane proteins, isolate enzyme from plant cell membranes, and reconstruct 3D structures from single particles obtained by conventional and dynamic TEM.
Hugh O'Neill photoHugh O'Neill
Biology and Soft Matter Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Phone: 865-574-5283
Email: oneillhm@ornl.gov
CSMB Website
Small-angle neutron scattering will be used to study the solution structure of the cellulose synthase complex (CSC) utilizing deuterium labeling of biomolecules, neutron diffraction and SANS approaches. Computational approaches will be focused on integrating neutron scattering and diffraction with simulation to improve the accuracy and efficiency of calculations giving new insights into the mechanisms of lignocellulose formation.
Alison Roberts profile photoAlison Roberts
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island
Phone: 401-874-4098
Email: aroberts@uri.edu
Department Website
My research group is investigating how the structure of cellulose synthase proteins affects cellulose synthesis complex assembly and microfibril structure using a novel complementation assay in Physcomitrella patens. We are also exploiting a dramatic osmotic stress-induced upregulation of cellulose deposition in P. patens to identify coregulated transcripts and proteins that may be involved in cellulose deposition.
Ming TienMing Tien
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814-863-1165
Email: mxt3@psu.edu
Department Website
The Tien lab is performing biochemical studies on cellulose synthases. These studies include purification of the native protein, determination of the stoichiometry of the complex, identifying partner proteins and expression of truncated forms for structural determination.
Greg Voth portraitGregory A. Voth
Department of Chemistry, The University of Chicago
Phone: 773-702-9092
Email: gavoth@uchicago.edu
Research Website
The Voth group will develop and apply a coarse-grained (CG) modeling strategy to study key mechanical properties of cell walls and to tie these simulations to CLSF experiments. Such a CG model will contain easily-interpreted parameters based on experimental data and is suitable for highly efficient computer simulations.  
Yaroslava YinglingYaroslava Yingling
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, North Carolina State University
Phone: 919-513-2624
Email: yara_yingling@ncsu.edu
Research Website
Computational prediction of secondary and three-dimensional structure of proteins in cellulose synthase complex. Molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo modeling of rosette and mechanisms of cellulose fiber production.  
Jochen ZimmerJochen Zimmer
Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia
Phone: 434-243-6506
Email: jochen_zimmer@virginia.edu
Research Website
Our group is interested in a molecular understanding of cellulose synthesis and membrane translocation. We use molecular and structural biology techniques to unravel how cellulose is synthesized and deposited outside the cell and how individual cellulose polymers can be organized into microfibrils. 

For information about the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers involved in the CLSF, please see our internal wiki page for center members only.