Dr. Li Lei is a Research Scientist at the DOE Joint Genome Institute. Her research uses pan-genomics, population genomics, and comparative genomics to explore the functional significance of the variants in plant genomes. Previous and current work has included investigating the abiotic stress responses for the model perennial grass Brachypodium sylvaticum, pan-genomics of Brachypodium species, drought and cold adaption in barley, comparative genomics to explore the variants that could decrease the crop yield, the evolution of gene family related to epigenetics following the whole genome duplications, and comparative transcriptomics in different tissues from different species. She is also interested in exploring the field Pennycress (an oil crop in the Brassicaceae family) seed coat and embryo development process using transcriptomics.
Recently, she got a two-year Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) grant in FY24 to identify and validate conserved regulatory sequences (CREs) in grasses. She will integrate comparative genomics, gene expression, and epigenetics in this grant to identify conserved putative CREs in DOE flagship grasses. She will then use polyploid plant genomes as a natural experiment to select a set of putative CREs for functional validation. Finally, She will validate and characterize the CREs in Brachypodium distachyon using reporter constructs.
Current postdoc: Dr. Bliss Beernink
Jacob Espinosa (Undergraduate student at UC Merced and now Manufacturing Associate III at Twist Bioscience)
Lesly Lopez Fang (PhD student at UC Merced and now data scientist in Los Angeles)