Group photo
Vivian photo

Vivian Bernal-Galeano 
Ph.D. Student

I am a Colombian biologist with a master in Microbiology. I have been inspired by plant-microbe interactions, and now I want to decipher the language that the parasitic plant dodder and its plant host use. I am also passionate about food security and I believe that science can improve the lives of people in developing countries.


Jocelyn Brown 
Undergraduate Student in Biological Sciences  

I joined this lab because I have a strong interest in genetics, I enjoy working with plants, and I get to experience conducting and presenting research in a professional setting.



Kristen Clermont 
Ph.D. Student

I am studying the primary metabolism of parasitic plants in the family Orobanchaceae, looking to understand the way in which the parasites assimilate their “stolen” nitrogen and carbon to optimize their own development. 


Hope Gruszewski

I help support the many interesting research projects in the Westwood lab. My current research focuses on developing protocols for tissue culture and transformation of Cuscuta (Dodder).


Hailey Larose 
Ph.D. Student

I am interested in parasitic plant research because these organisms represent an extreme adaptation of plants, the complete loss of photosynthesis and parasitism of other plants.


Soyon Park 
Senior Research Associate

My research interests are in understanding mechanisms of host-parasite interactions.

Google Scholar:




Evan Pavlicek 
Undergraduate Student in Biological Sciences  

I am working in the lab because I am interested in knowing how and why these parasitic plants have evolved to utilize other plants as a means to gather nutrients for their own growth and survival.

Robert Tuosto

Robert Tuosto 
Undergraduate in Biological Sciences  

I have always been interested in plants and jumped at the chance to work with the parasitic variety. Getting the opportunity to apply concepts that I learned every day in my biology classes was invaluable to my college experience and has cultivated my interest in future research.


Chong Yang
Postdoctoral Associate

I am working in the lab to explore host defenses against parasitic plants.


Current News


Hailey Larose defended her Ph.D. in February: “Exploring the genetic basis of germination specificity in the parasitic plants Orobanche cernua and O. cumana”. Graduation in May!


Weed Science: Weed control in 2050: Imagining the future of weed science. Go to: DOI: org/10.1017/wsc.2017.78

Genes: Identification of differentially methylated sites with weak methylation effect. Go to: DOI: 10.3390/genes9020075

Nature: MicroRNAs from the parasitic plant Cuscuta campestris target host messenger RNAs.  Go to: DOI: 10.1038/nature25027