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Jenny Xiang

Area(s) of Expertise

Plant systematics and evolution of flowering plants

Our research spans a wide range of topics in plant systematics and evolution, involving undergraduate and graduate students as well as international collaborations. Our general research goal is to test systematic and evolutionary hypotheses in a phylogenetic context. We use DNA sequences to reconstruct the phylogeny of plants and use the phylogeny as a framework to understand pattern and rate of diversification, biogeographic history, and evolution of morphology, genes, and genomes.  We integrate phylogeny, development, and gene expression and functional analyses to understand the developmental genetics of inflorescence evolution in the dogwood family. We built a dogwood genetic transformation system for characterizing functions of genes regulating flowering and inflorescence development. Furthermore, we integrate populations genetics, phylogeography, and landscape ecology to understand how genetic variation responds to changes in landscape and environment in the state flower Cornus florida. Our focal plants for research have been the dogwoods and their close relatives (Cornales) as well as plants displaying a discontinuous distribution in eastern Asia and eastern North America.

Courses Taught:

The main course I teach is PB 403/503 Plant Systematics, which was offered every fall before 2015 and now every spring from 2016 onward, for undergraduate and graduate level students. I also teach a study abroad course in the summer Study Abroad Program: Plant Resources, Ecology and Culture in China  (PB 495/595 – 501, 3 credits, S/U or graded; three weeks).

Other Teaching Efforts:

  • PB  493 (undergraduate research) Contact Dr. Chad Jordan for details.
  • Advising graduate students’ thesis research.


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Ph.D., Botany-Plant Molecular Systematics, Washington State University (1995)
B.S., Plant Genetics, Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) University (1982)