Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

Nikolau Group - Scientists

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Contact us at
nikolau.research@iastate.edu

Scientists

(listed alphabetically)


Libuse Brachova photo

Libuse BRACHOVA, Associate Scientist and Lab Manager

libuse@iastate.edu

Publications

Responsibilities summary: I am the Nikolau laboratory manager, with research interest in the biotin biosynthetic pathway.

Biotin is an essential cofactor for enzymes transferring carboxyl groups between substrates. The biotin biosynthetic pathway has not been fully elucidated in plants. The early steps leading to pimeloyl CoA remain unknown. The next step utilizing pimeloyl-CoA and alanine is catalyzed by enzyme 8-amino-7-oxononanoate synthese (KAPA), followed by 7,9-diaminopelargonic acid synthese, dethiobiotin synthetase, and biotin synthase. Our resent research is focused on characterizing a gene that may be involved in this biotin biosynthesis, a homolog of a gene that in E. coli is located in biotin operon, but its biochemical function remains unknown.

Hometown: Prague, Czech Republic. Degrees: BS in Biochemistry, Charles University, Prague; MA in Biochemistry, Charles University, Prague; PhD in Biochemistry, Institute of Physiology, Czechoslovak Academy of Science, Prague. Research interests: My research is focused on study of proteins and genes involved in biotin metabolism. Likes best about working with the Nikolau group: Working with a group of people who are dedicated to science, but also value the meaning of friendship, collaboration and help to others. Fun fact: I started to play tennis a couple years ago, and now I am addicted to it; I have to play tennis almost every day.


Reid CLAUSSEN photo

Reid CLAUSSEN, Research Associate

clausr@iastate.edu

Responsibilities summary: BRL floor manager and rotating research associate

Hometown: Bettendorf, IA. Degree: BS in Biology, Iowa State University. Likes best about working with the Nikolau group: I really enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunities that the Nikolau group has offered me. I find myself working harder than I ever had before, and I attribute this to the community of researchers with whom I interact. Fun fact: I am part of a family-run cattle business called 4RC. It stands for Ron, Ross, Ryan and Reid Claussen. My sister and I created a website for the business.


Ludmilla RIZSHSKY photo

Ludmila RIZHSKY, Assistant Scientist
Medicinal Plant Consortium and the Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements

ludmilar@iastate.edu

Publications

Responsibilities summary: My research in Nikolau lab began with metabolic analysis of bioactive extracts and fractions from the medicinal plants Hypericum, Echinacea and Prunella,  as part of the Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements. My current project focuses on characterization of alkamide biochemical pathways in Echnacea plants, as part of the Medicinal Plant Consortium. In addition, I am co-advising graduate and undergraduate students studying surface lipid biosynthesis pathways.

Hometown: Born in Sankt-Petersburg, Russia; hometown is Jerusalem, Israel. Degrees: BS in Molecular Biology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel; MS in Biotechnology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; PhD in Biology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. MS thesis title: Development of transgenic plants with enhanced resistance to pathogens. PhD thesis title: Molecular analysis of oxidative stress response in plants. Research interests: Fingerprinting analysis and chemical identification of phytochemicals in herbal supplements used in alternative medicine; the study focused on Echinace, Hypericum and Prunella. Fun fact: Almost all members of my family were born in different countries. Another fun fact – my army rank is higher than my husband’s.


Zhihong SONG  photo

Zhihong SONG, Associate Scientist
Assistant Manager, W.M. Keck Metabolomics Research Laboratory

zhsong@iastate.edu

Publications

Research project summary: I am working on a project entitled “Mass Spectrometric Imaging of Plant Metabolites” funded by the Ames Laboratory of US DOE. It involves profiling and mass spectrometric imaging of plant metabolites by laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (LDI-MS). This research will ultimately lead to a predictive understanding of the mechanisms that multi-cellular organisms use to regulate metabolic processes. In addition, I perform metabolic profiling and target metabolite analysis in plants using GC-MS and LC-MS to decipher metabolic and regulatory functions of genes.

Hometown: Changzhi, Shanxi, China. Degrees: BS in Pharmacy, Beijing Medical University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, China; PhD in Pharmacognosy, Beijing Medical University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (now Peking University), China. Thesis title: Studies on the chemical constituents and biological activities of Cistanche tubulosa and Cistanche sinensis. Research interests: Plant metabolomics, mass spectrometry imaging, natural products chemistry. Likes best about working with the Nikolau group: Friendly atmosphere, diverse projects and multidisciplinary collaboration. Fun fact: I like playing tennis with my children.


Zhihong SONG  photo

Marna YANDEAU-NELSON, Associate Scientist and Graduate Faculty
Project Coordinator, Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC)

myn@iastate.edu

Publications

Responsibilties summary: I share in defining and executing the directions of our CBiRC research, which includes co-advising the CBiRC graduate students within the lab as well as leading an effort to develop biocatalytic platforms in microbial systems to produce carboxylic acids with multiple chemical functionalities.  I also initiate and coordinate CBiRC outreach opportunities in the lab, and I serve as the advisor and mentor for CBiRC’s Student Leadership Council (SLC).  In addition, I have developed and lead an interdisciplinary, collaborative project that is focused on defining the genetic regulation and understanding the protective capacity of the surface lipid metabolome on silks of maize (a collaboration with Drs. Nick Lauter and Craig Abel at USDA-ARS).

Hometown: Catskill, New York. Degrees: BS in Biology, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa; PhD in Interdepartmental Genetics, Iowa State University. Thesis title: The effects of trans modifiers and tandem duplications on meiotic recombination in maize. Research interests: Biorenewables, fatty acid biosynthesis, yeast and plant genetics. Likes best about working with the Nikolau group: The synergy among research projects and among researchers in the lab; the ability to be very involved in CBiRC and biorenewables research as the Center is starting. Fun fact: Favorite pastime - baking with my kids.