Sheldon Lawrence, Ph.D.



University of Florida


Leslie Hicks, Ph.D.


I completed a BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Hampton University in 2012 and a PhD in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Florida in 2018. During my undergraduate studies I was a scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Undergraduate Education Program. Here I worked in the Genomics and Biotechnology laboratory of Professor. Edison Fowlks and conducted research in the areas of Metagenomics and Synthetic Biology. Upon graduation, I began a one year Postbaccalaureate Research and Education Program at Virginia Tech. While at Virginia Tech I worked in the Plant Pathology laboratory of Professor John McDowell. There I studied the plant pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) and the mechanisms that the effector RxL10 uses to suppress immunity in Arabidopsis. For my doctoral studies, I worked in the lab of Professor Sixue Chen at the University of Florida. My dissertation work focused on the elucidation of redox signaling in plant stomatal guard cells during plant innate immunity.

My current postdoc research in the Hicks lab will be directed to the study of protein degradation and proteolytic pathways as it relates to plant defense and adaptation to stress. In addition, I will work to identify bioactive peptides from plants that are potential leads for the discovery of novel antimicrobial, antifungal and anticancer drugs. During this time, I will gain teaching and mentoring experience as a SPIRE scholar that will be instrumental in my success as academic researcher helping to diversify the area of biology.