Dr. Pilon-Smits is an associate professor at Colorado State University, in the Biology Department. She studied in Utrecht and received her Ph.D in 1992 at Utrecht University (the biggest university in Holland), in the Department of Plant Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, for work on evolutionary aspects of Crassulacean Acid Metabolism. After her Ph.D. she worked for 2 years as a postdoc at Utrecht University, in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology, studying the drought resistance of transgenic plants that were engineered to produce the sugars fructans or trehalose. She continued her studies on the use of plant genetic engineering to increase plant drought resistance at UC Berkeley, where she joined Norman Terry's lab (Department of Plant Biology) in 1994. While in the Terry lab, she became interested in phytoremediation: the use of plants to clean up environmental pollution. She started a new project involving genetic engineering approaches to study and improve plant trace element accumulation, for use in phytoremediation. As of 1998, Dr. Pilon-Smits continues to do phytoremediation research at Colorado State University. The research in her lab centers on understanding the mechanisms by which plants metabolize and accumulate pollutants, with the goal to improve the capacity of plants to remove these compounds from the environment. Their goal is to identify which steps are rate-limiting for the phytoremediation of different pollutants, and to use genetic engineering to improve phytoremediation efficiency. They study both inorganics (heavy metals, selenium), and organics (PAHs, herbicides).
Other Research Interests
Phytoremdiation; Plant genetic engineering
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