Principle Investigator

Z. Jeffrey Chen 

D. J. Sibley Centennial Professor in Plant Molecular Genetics

Jeff Chen received his B.S. in Agronomy (Plant Science) at Zhejiang Agricultural University (now Zhejiang University), his M.S. in Plant Genetics and Breeding at Nanjing Agricultural University, and his Ph.D. in Genetics at Texas A&M University (dissertation advisor: Gary E. Hart).  Following post-doctoral positions with Ronald Phillips and Howard Rines at University of Minnesota and Craig S. Pikaard at Washington University in St. Louis, he joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 1999, where he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. In 2005, he joined the faculty of Molecular Cell and Developmental BiologyIntegrative BiologyCenter for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, and Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the holder of the D. J. Sibley Centennial Professor in Plant Molecular Genetics.

Jeff Chen has developed an innovative research program to study molecular mechanisms for gene expression changes and evolutionary consequences in hybrids (formed between strains of the same or different species) and allopolyploids (formed between two or more related species) relative to the parents. His research employs Arabidopsis (a weedy plant in the mustard family) and cotton as experimental systems and uses genomic, proteomic, and systems biology approaches, as well as molecular biology and genetic methodologies. Dosage changes and novel interactions between parental genomes and alleles in hybrids and polyploids may induce epigenetic and epigenomic changes, leading to hybrid incompatibilityheterosis in plants, and diseases and cancers in animals. He and his colleagues have found that epigenetic changes in gene expression in plant hybrids and allopolyploids are associated with altered circadian rhythms and hybrid vigorseed sizeenhanced resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and fiber cell and trichome development. Moreover, the results have significant implications, not only for the field of genetics and epigenetics, but also for the ultimate success of biotechnological efforts to safely and effectively manipulate gene expression associated with growth vigor in plants and crops that produce food, feed, and biofuels.


Zhejiang Agricultural University Agronomy (Plant Science) B.S., 1984
Nanjing Agricultural University Plant Genetics & Breeding M.S., 1987
Texas A&M University Genetics Ph.D., 1993
University of Minnesota Molecular Genetics Postdoc, 1993-1995
Washington University Biology & Biochemistry NIH Postdoc, 1995-1999


1986-1988 Faculty of Plant Genetics, Northeast Agricultural University
1990-1993 Graduate Research, Genetics Program, Texas A&M University. Dissertation Advisor: Gary E. Hart
1993-1995 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Minnesota. Mentors: Ronald L. Phillips and Howard W. Rines
1995-1999 NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington University-St. Louis. Mentor: Craig S. Pikaard
1999-2005 Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
Member, Graduate of Genetics, Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences
2005 Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
2005-2008 Associate Professor and D. J. Sibley Centennial Professorship Fellow, University of Texas at Austin
Member, Faculty of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
Member, Graduate Faculty of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Plant Biology
Member, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology
Member, Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
2007- Joint Member, Integrative Biology
2008- Professor, D. J. Sibley Centennial Professorship in Plant Molecular Genetics


1989-1990 Graduate Scholarship, K. C. Wong Foundation in Hong Kong
1995-1997 Monsanto Postdoctoral Fellowship, The Monsanto Company
1997-1999 National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award
2005-present D. J. Sibley Centennial Professorship Fellow in Plant Molecular Genetics
2005-present Fellow of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology
2010-2011 Faculty Development Program Award
2010-2011 Fulbright US-UK Scholar Award
Lent 2011 Visiting Fellow Commoner, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
2011 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2016 Cotton Biotechnology Award


The Genetics Society of America (GSA)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)
Epigenetics Society
Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE)