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We answer big questions and drive innovation.

Tackling Real-World Problems

We strive to advance basic understanding of fundamental questions in biology and meet applied needs in fields such as genetically modified plants, sustainable biofuel production, environmental pollution and endangered species.

Our research covers a broad range of disciplines, including cell and molecular biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, ethnobotany, and microbiology. And our faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for their work.

We believe in the power of collaborative research, and many of our research projects engage faculty from throughout the university.

Cell and Molecular Biology

Terri Long displays her ongoing research in her Gardner Hall lab.

Cellular and molecular biology of plants and microbes is a major focus area for the department, with a large portion of our faculty engaged in this research area.

Their projects cover a range of topics, including plant cell biology, development, and structure; plant and microbe molecular biology; biochemistry, phytochemistry, metabolomics and proteomics; genetics, genomics and systems biology; genetic engineering of plants and microbes; biotechnology and bioprocessing; and plant-microbe interactions.

Faculty Researchers

Jose AlonsoOrlando Arguello-MirandoLarry BlantonJose Bruno-Barcena
Sue CarsonBob FranksAmy GrundenCandace Haigler
Linda Hanley-BowdoinTzung Fu HsiehXu LiTerri Long
Eric MillerImara PereraMarcela Rojas-PierceHeike Sederoff
Ross SozzaniAnna StepanovaBill ThompsonCranos Williams
Deyu Xie

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Our department currently has eight faculty members who focus on research in plant ecology and evolutionary biology. These faculty members are conducting research in systematics at both the molecular and morphological levels; phylogeny, biogeography, and evolution; tropical, aquatic, and community ecology; evolutionary, physiological, and global change ecology; and ecology of plant-microbe interactions.

Faculty Researchers

JoAnn BurkholderChristine HawkesBill Hoffmann
Alexander KringsWil PetrySeema Sheth
Jenny Xiang

Research Facilities

From the Phytotron on NC State’s campus to the Plants for Human Health Institute at the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis, we are connected to a number of top-notch facilities.

Dr. Deyu Xie, Dr. Jenny Xiang and Dr. Bob Franks study inflorescence in dogwoods.


We also have faculty members are involved in microbiology research, focusing on such areas as microbial biotechnology; bioremediation; microbial metabolism, genomics and proteomics; bacteriophage; extremophiles; and plant-fungal and plant-virus interactions.

Faculty Researchers

Jose Bruno-BarcenaSue CarsonAmy Grunden
Linda Hanley-BowdoinChristine HawkesMichael Hyman
Manuel KleinerEric Miller


Our department also supports a unique focus in ethnobotany, the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between plants and people. Areas of interest include medicinal plants, edible plants, and other plants with cultural uses or significance.

Faculty Researchers

Jillian De GezelleJenny XiangDeyu Xie