People in the Lab

Emily Josephs (PI)

Emily is as an assistant professor in the Plant Biology department and AgBioResearch at Michigan State University. She received a PhD from the University of Toronto and was a postdoc at the University of California, Davis. Emily is generally excited about all things population and quantitative genetics, swimming, biking, and camping.

Twitter: @emjosephs
Github: emjosephs
Pronouns: She/her/hers

Maya Wilson Brown (Graduate Student)

Maya got her B.S. in Biology at Duke University studying hybrid seed incompatibility and speciation in monkey flowers (Mimulus) and morning glories (Ipomoea). She is interested in evolutionary biology, ecology, genetics, and loves strong espresso. Maya worked in the Josephs lab as a research technician for two years before starting as a PhD student.

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Adrian Platts (Bioinformatician)

Adrian started out in the Physical Sciences, gaining a BSc in Physics (specializing in Computational Physics) from the University of Birmingham followed by postgraduate work in novel magnetic materials. In 2004 he switched to a bioscience career initially working on human regulatory elements before moving on to plant genetics at McGill and then New York Universities. He joined the Josephs lab and the Edger Lab in 2020 and balances a home life based in A2 with a work life based around MSU.

Rebecca Panko (Postdoc)

Rebecca received her PhD from the Federated Department of Biological Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University-Newark. A long-term resident of Brooklyn, New York, she has a strong interest in urban plant ecology and evolution. Her dissertation work examined how urbanization impacts shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) populations in the New York Metropolitan Area. She is passionate about combating “plant blindness” and enjoys both teaching and community engagement to expose larger audiences to the importance of plants.

Email: pankoreb [at]
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Twitter: @PlantCityEvo

Miles Roberts (Graduate Student)

Miles is a graduate student in the Genetics and Genome Sciences program at MSU. He completed his B.S. at Washington State University where he majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Quantitative Biology. His undergraduate research focused on the evolution of heavy-metal tolerance in bacteria, but his main interests now include plant genome and transcriptome evolution. In his free time, Miles is always looking to learn new programming languages, hike down interesting trails, and cook new recipes.

Email: robe1195 [at]
Pronouns: he/him/his

Sophie Buysse (Graduate Student)

Sophie is a graduate student in the Plant Biology department and Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior dual degree program at MSU and she is cosupervised by Jeff Conner. She completed her B.A. in Biology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in Minnesota. Her research centers on the role of phenotypic plasticity in adaptation and evolution. Outside the lab, Sophie enjoys hiking, cross country skiing, gardening, and cooking.

Email: buysseso [at]
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Asia Hightower (Graduate Student)

Asia is a graduate student in the Plant Biology program PhD program at MSU. She completed her B.A. and MS.c at Wayne State university where she majored in Biological sciences with a concentration evolutionary and developmental biology. Her master’s research focused on the developmental mechanism for floral meristem termination in dioecious Spinacia oleracea. Her main interests now include comparative leaf morphology and herbarium studies. In her free time, Asia is looking to improve her science communication skills and getting to know the East Lansing area.

email: highto29 [at]
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Nathan Catlin (Postdoc)

Nathan received his PhD from the University of Florida where he studied alternative splicing and gene duplication in rice and its wild relatives. Nathan is broadly interested in comparative genomics and population genomics, specifically how standing genetic variation in natural and breeding populations contribute to phenotypic diversity. Nathan is currently investigating TE insertions in maize and their contributions to trait variation.

Email: catlinna [at]

Daniela Palmer (Postdoc)

Daniela received her PhD from the University of Chicago, and was an NSF postdoc at the University of Sheffield before joining MSU as an MSU Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. Daniela is broadly interested in genome biology and evolution, particularly in relation to sexual phenotypes. She is currently working with a group of insects known as treehoppers to study sex chromosome turnover and the evolution of chromosome number.

Email: palme217 [at]