FRI Biology Stream

Discovering Signals

genetics, molecular biology, physiology, plant biology, signal transduction

our research

Our Research

The Discovering Signals (Cell-Signaling) stream focuses on discovering the early molecular signaling steps by which a novel hormone-like signal, extracellular ATP, regulates plant growth and development. Students perform novel experiments in the model plant Arabidopsis to test hypothesized signaling steps regulating growth of root hairs using chemical agonists/antagonists and genetic mutants.


Our Strategy

Discovering Signals stream students are engaged in both the process and analysis toward our research goals.  Researchers are trained to 'think like a scientist' by developing and using critical thinking skills to create new knowledge through research and effectively communicating their findings.


Discovering Signals researchers will focus on how to:

  • use a variety of approaches and methods, including DNA sequencing, phylogenetic analysis, computed tomography (CT) scanning, and bioacoustics analysis.
  • apply best practices for data science using the R statistical software environment for analysis and visualization.
  • search for, interpret, and synthesize published primary scientific literature related to the field and evaluate it through critique.
  • make arguments from evidence and work together with peers to find solutions.
  • apply research skills to collect data, and use those data to formulate and test hypotheses and create new scientific knowledge.

Our Impact

Roots function to absorb water and nutrients and root hairs greatly increase the absorption area of a root. Understanding the regulation of root hair growth and development by extracellular ATP is critically important to efforts to improve agriculture.

Our Team

Profile image of Greg Clark

Greg Clark

  • Distinguished Lecturer
  • Freshman Research Initiative
  • College of Natural Sciences


Course Credit
Research Outcomes