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Yang-Tsung Lin: Advancing as an early-career scientist

Now with Ph.D. in hand, former MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) graduate student Yang-Tsung Lin is ready to continue his studies in algae as a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Sabeeha Merchant’s lab at UC Berkeley, beginning in July 2022.

In the Merchant lab, Tsung will be working with a new algal species and using that as a platform for reverse genetics and synthetic biology.

“I’m excited about the algae community and all the collaboration opportunities at UC Berkeley,” Tsung said. “Sabeeha’s lab has been one of the leading groups in the Chlamydomonas research field for more than 30 years. They led the Chlamydomonas genome sequencing in 2010, which provided a solid foundation for my Ph.D. study. Being able to join their lab is like a dream come true.”

Coming from Taiwan, Tsung began his studies in the Benning lab at the PRL in 2016. He obtained his Ph.D. from the MSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate program in Spring 2022. His thesis work looked at the signals in microalgae which activate different states of the cell cycle.

“At the PRL and the Benning lab, I always felt that I was allowed to try various experiments and learn different skills to answer a research question,” he said. “There was always someone or some facilities that could provide me with the resources I needed. 

Christoph Benning and Yang-Tsung Lin in graduation robes
Christoph Benning and Yang-Tsung Lin
By Kara Headley, MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory 2022

“When it comes to science, everyone is equal here at PRL. It doesn’t matter if you are a PI or a student. You can share your opinion or ask questions freely. This is quite different from my cultural background, and I think this vibe encourages me to engage more in scientific conversation and activities.”

Christoph Benning is the director of the PRL and was Tsung’s Ph.D. mentor.

“When Tsung joined my lab, he was already an accomplished plant molecular biologist,” Christoph said. “He wanted to explore algae for their biofuel potential and embarked on a project focused on cell cycle regulation in response to the metabolic state of the cell.

Yang-Tsung Lin and Barb Sears in graduation robes
Yang-Tsung Lin and Barb Sears
Courtesy photo

"Notably, Daniela Strenkert, who did her postdoctoral work in the Merchant, is now joining the PRL as an assistant professor in August 2022, illustrating an exchange of scientists and expertise between MSU and UC Berkeley,” Christoph continued. “Tsung has big shoes to fill, but I am confident in his abilities to succeed in his new endeavor on his way to become an independent scientist.”

Tsung also worked closely with the now retired Dr. Barb Sears, who was formerly a faculty member in the MSU Department of Plant Biology.

Tsung said, “She has been like my second mentor who always gave me practical advice on research, writing and presentation. It was my greatest pleasure working with her.”

Learn more about Tsung’s research.

By Kara Headley; Banner image by Kara Headley