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Associate Professor Biochemistry rroston@unl.edu 402-472-2936 N123 Beadle Center
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Research Strengths
Biochemistry Education, Lipids/Membrane Biochemistry, Molecular Signaling, Plant Biochemistry, Redox Biology, Omics

"Membranes are the barriers through which cells experience their changing environments. The dynamic responses of membrane lipids and proteins are required both as signals of and physical responses to a variety of biotic and abiotic factors. One of the most dramatic membrane responses is seen in plants' response to cold and freezing. Membranes are directly damaged by cold conditions, which challenge their fluidity. A wide variety of plant species from diverse regions and evolutionary origins have developed tolerance to temperate winter conditions, allowing them to grow year-round. In northern latitudes, these species outperform crop species domesticated in tropical regions, such as maize and rice.

It is our long-term goal to understand how membrane dynamics can contribute to plant health. For its excellent genetics and established biology, we use the model system Arabidopsis thaliana as the basis for studies involving the roles of specific proteins or enzymes. To compare responses in tolerant and non-tolerant species, we also incorporate a diverse range of grass species. Our studies are performed using a combination of genetics, molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and biophysical approaches."

Education

  • BS, University of California, Davis, 2003
  • Ph D, University of California, Davis, 2009

Courses

  • BIOC 431, Biochemistry I: Structure and Metabolism, Fall 2020

Honors

  • NSF CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2019
  • ARD Junior Faculty for Excellence in Research Award, UNL Agricultural Research Division, 2019
  • 2019 Junior Faculty Holling Family Teaching Excellence Award, UNL, 2019

Papers

  • Three methods to extract membrane glycerolipids: comparing sensitivity to lipase degradation and yield., Three methods to extract membrane glycerolipids: comparing sensitivity to lipase degradation and yield.
  • An Arabidopsis protoplast isolation method reduces cytosolic acidification and activation of the chloroplast stress sensor SENSITIVE TO FREEZING 2, PLANT SIGNALING & BEHAVIOR
  • Interactive learning modules with 3D printed models improve student understanding of protein structure-function relationships, BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY EDUCATION
  • Lipid transport required to make lipids of photosynthetic membranes, PHOTOSYNTHESIS RESEARCH