Lab members

Cora MacAlister

Cmeora MacAlister earned her BS in Plant Biology and Entomology from Michigan State University in 2004. She did her PhD on  the developmental pathway leading to the formation of stomata at Stanford University in the lab of Dominique Bergmann. After a postdoc at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory working with Zach Lippman on inflorescence architecture in tomato, she joined the faculty of MCDB in 2015. She enjoys working with unusual and interesting plants and petting her two cats, Bean Cat and Mr. Kitten.



Ali Dorchak

Ali picAli (Pittsburgh, PA) received a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Mercyhurst College (Erie, PA) in 2009. Soon after, she joined the research efforts of Dr. Stephen Ragsdale in the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan, utilizing anaerobic microbes to better understand the global carbon cycle. She received a Master of Science in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the the University of Michigan in 2012, under the mentorship of Dr. Laura Olsen, while simultaneously serving as her lab manager, studying the mechanism of peroxisomal protein import until 2015. Ali now serves as manager of the MacAlister lab, and is excited to continue her research in the field of cellular plant biology, trying to better understand the role of glycoproteins in plant development. When not in the lab, Ali enjoys running, spending time with her large, extended family and exploring new cities with her husband, Tony.

StevenSteven Beuder

I received my B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013. After graduating, I moved back to my hometown of Los Angeles and began my scientific research career at LA BioMed. Under the mentorship of Dr. Michelina Iacovino, I worked on dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying hematopoiesis. I joined MCDB at Michigan in the fall of 2015 and rotated in Cora’s lab the following winter, where I gained my first experience working with plant systems. I enjoyed all aspects of my rotation project, including the molecular and genetic tools utilized and working with Arabidopsis thaliana as a model organism, so I decided to join the lab and continue my project. My research focuses on examining the functions of cell wall- associated glycoproteins and their modifying enzymes in Arabidopsis fertilization, specifically in the process of pollen tube growth.

When I am out of the lab, I enjoy playing soccer and guitar.

Roop Fatima Jaffri 

Roop earned her BS honors from Comsats Institute of Information tRoopechnology Pakistan in Biosciences. She came to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship which helped her complete her Masters in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental biology at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. Her Masters work focused on cell wall synthesizing proteins in Erik Nielsen’s lab.

As a member of the MacAlister lab, she is currently working towards her PhD research. Her project focuses on investigating suspected key players in the process of fertilization in the tomato plant (Solanum lycopersicum). Her project will focus on the roles of different members of the FIN family of proteins in tomato, their suspected substrates and their functions in the context of the importance of glycosylation in the process of sexual reproduction.

In her free time she enjoys fiction, cooking and catching up with friends and family in a different time zone.

Former Lab members

Alyssa Castle

Previously, I attended Spring Arbor University majoring in Biology.  AlyssaWhile attending SAU, I worked under Dr. Aaron Wyman studying putative peroxisomal proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana.  This project was in collaboration with Dr. Laura Olsen from U of M.  The summer of 2014 I was accepted into The University of Michigan Interdisciplinary REU Program (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) in the Structure and Function of Proteins where I continued my project with Dr. Laura Olsen characterizing peroxisomal proteins. I am currently a Junior at the University of Michigan, where I will finish my Undergraduate degree in Biology. I am now a part of the MacAlister lab focusing on studying various Leucine-rich extensin proteins using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model. I plan to pursue a graduate degree in plant biology.  Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time with my daughter Annabelle and traveling to different cities to watch my brothers play football.

Fangwei Gu

FangweiFangwei received his B.S. degree in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He came to University of Michigan in 2009 and joined the lab of Dr. Erik Nielsen. There he worked on understanding the role of CSLD proteins in Arabidopsis development. After receiving his Ph. D. degree, Fangwei joined the MacAlister lab in 2015 and worked as a post-doctoral research fellow. His major projects include establishing an Agrobacterium mediated mutagenesis system for moss and understanding the role of several potential cell wall proteins in tomato. Outside the lab, Fangwei is a freelance writer, a traveler, and a photographer.