Current Lab Members

Liz Cooper Asst. Professor & Principal Investigator

Dr. Cooper joined the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte in 2018. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California in 2011, then worked as a post-doc at the University of Miami from 2011 to 2014. She subsequently became a research associate at Clemson University, which is where she became interested in applying her background in evolutionary biology and genomics to agricultural systems.

Kittikun Songsomboon Postdoc

Dr. Songsomboon is investigating structural variation and the impact of vacuolar iron transporters in sweet sorghum. Before joining the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNC Charlotte in 2018, he received his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Cornell University earlier that same year. After gaining experience in conventional breeding and genome-wide association techniques with Bipolaris resistance in switchgrass, he is now broadening his skills in computational biology to better untangle complicated traits.Personal Website.

Azita Alasvand Zarasvand Research Assistant

Azita Alasvand Zarasvand received her M.Sc in Plant Genomics from North Dakota State University in 2019. Her previous research experience was focused on transcriptomic studies of Arabidopsis thaliana exposed to nanoparticles as an abiotic stress that induced physiological reprogramming of plant innate immunity in order to enhance and compromise resistance to microbial pathogens. After joining Dr. Cooper’s lab as a research assistant at UNC Charlotte in the fall of 2019, she started collaborating on various plant molecular biology experiments looking at processes that drive evolutionary adaptation and diversification in the cereal crop Sorghum.

James Heuser Masters Student

James Heuser is a Masters student in Bioinformatics. He joined Dr. Cooper's lab as an undergraduate student in 2018, and has since completed his Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is working on a project examining parallel evolution of agriculturally important traits among a diverse group of samples in the genus Sorghum, and using high throughput comparisons to identify classes of genes with unique mutations in certain populations.

Tuvani Ramnarine Undergraduate Lab Assistant

Tuvani Ramnarine is an undergraduate student in the Biology department. She joined Dr. Cooper's lab in the fall of 2019 to help with molecular biology techniques such as RNA and DNA extractions. She plans to attend PA school following her grduation from UNC Charlotte.

Former Lab Members

Rachel Bartolomeo Masters Student

Rachel Bartolomeo is a Masters student in Bioinformatics who plans to finish her degree in Spring 2020. She graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from NC State University. She was assisting with Dr. Cooper's project on the evolutionary origins of domesticated sorghum.

Lab Photos

Cooper Lab in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, during the 2019 ASPB meeting in San Jose, CA