Jen Picture

Jennifer Lachowiec

Associate Professor

Dr. Lachowiec studied Genetics at University of Wisconsin (B.S. 2008) and performed research with Dr. Scott Kennedy. During her doctoral work at the University of Washington with Dr. Christine Queitsch (Ph.D. 2014), she studied molecular mechanisms of robustness in evolution. From 2014-2017, Dr. Lachowiec studied the evolution of gene expression with Dr. Patricia Wittkopp at the University of Michigan. The Lachowiec lab was officially founded at MSU in 2017.

Outside of lab I like endurance sports--running, swimming, road cycling, and cross country skiing.

[email protected]


Barb Keith

Research Professor

Dr. Keith earned a B.S. in Microbiology at the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at Hahnemann University, where she studied the role of the cyclin-dependent protein kinase PHO85 in the abiotic stress response in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Other research focuses include transcriptional regulation of yeast superoxide dismutase (University of Massachusetts) and human carboxypepetidase D (University of Illinois-Chicago). Currently, she is collaborating with Dr. Lachowiec to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in multiple herbicide resistance in wild oats (Avena fatua).

When not at my bench, I enjoy seeing what the outside world has to offer.


Jessica Williams

Post-doctoral Fellow

Dr. Williams received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Denver in 2012 where she studied drought tolerance and mycorrhizal interactions in western wheatgrass. She then worked in Drosophila labs studying genetics, cell development, and neuroscience at University of Colorado Denver and MSU. Switching back to plants, she joined Dr. Jamie Sherman’s barley breeding lab and studied barley root system architecture, genetics, and rhizosphere microbial associations, receiving her PhD in 2024.

Outside of work, Jessica enjoys all sorts of skiing and spending time with her family and dogs.

Erik Killian hiking

Erik Killian

PhD student

B.S. in Environmental Science-Geospatial & Environmental Analysis, Minor Soil Sciences, Montana State University 2020

I completed a Bachelor's of Science degree in Environmental Science with a focus in Geospatial Information Systems. I lead the lab's efforts to use remote sensing to measure robustness in plants.

In my free time, I enjoy mountain biking, skiing, and climbing.

Jared picture

 Jared Lile

PhD Student

B.S. in Plant Biotechnology, Montana State University 2020

After completing undergraduate research in the Lachowiec lab in Arabidopsis thaliana and barley, I have returned to MSU to pursue my PhD. I am co-advised by Jennifer and Jason Cook and will study genetics of wheat yield to facilitate breeding.
Beyond lab, I enjoy distance running and fly fishing in Montana's great rivers.
Aristea King

Aristea King

PhD student

Miami University, Biology and Anthropology

Chloe Hinson headshot

Chloe Hinson

Master's student 

B.S. in Microbiology, University of Maryland 2022

While completing my bachelor's degree in microbiology at UMD I investigated small fruit pathology under Dr. Hu. Following graduation I worked with Dr. Farcuh exploring fruit quality improvement strategies with physical trait and molecular expression analysis. Under Dr. Lachowiec's advisement, I am seeking to understand how brassinosteroid treatment affects wheat quality and gene expression during heat stress. 

Outside of research, I enjoy drawing, gardening, and video games.


Connor Nelle

Connor Nelle

Master's student

B.S. in Conservation Biology, Montana State University 2023

During my time in undergrad at MSU, I worked in weedy cropland and rangeland systems. I am currently working on remote sensing of herbicide resistant wild oat and assisting stakeholders in implementing imaging tools.

When not at MSU, I enjoy playing the drums, skiing, biking, climbing, and designing games.

[email protected]


Krishna Nandakumar

Master's student
Throughout my undergraduate studies, I became interested in plant biotechnology. I am presently working on Camelina sativa and using molecular methods to improve seed size. Apart from studies, I like to garden and listen to music.

Brody Sturgis

Undergraduate Researcher



Leisher Gugino

Undergraduate Researcher
I am a sophomore majoring in Environmental science with a focus in land rehabilitation. In the lab, I am currently working on analyzing robustness in Camelina sativa using Python-based computing software. 
In my free time I like to play the bass, swim, and bike.
Kira Falaschi

 Kira Falaschi

Undergraduate Researcher
I am a freshman majoring in Biotechnology with plant systems emphasis. In the lab I am collaborating with Dr. Jennifer Lachowiec and Dr. Veronika Strnadova-Neeley on programming ways to analyze DNA sequences to determine if they control robustness or consistency in gene expression.


Outside of the lab I enjoy cooking, exploring new places, making art, and taking care of my plants.

Drue Erwin

Drue Erwin

Undergraduate Researcher
I am a sophomore majoring in biotechnology with a concentration in plant systems, advised by Dr. Jennifer Lachowiec. In the lab, my role is to assist in researching the effect of nitrogen deprivation on camelina sativa growth development. Outside of the lab I enjoy hiking, baking, attending concerts, working as a barista, and spending time with friends and family. 

Ian Oehler

Undergraduate Researcher
I am a junior at Montana State University and will soon be finishing a degree in Plant Biology. In the lab I am currently investigating CRISPR-mutated Camelina sativa.
In my free time, I enjoy playing bass guitar and backpacking.


Lab Alumni