Kyaw (Joe) Aung joins Iowa State University as an Assistant Professor

  • Sep 5, 2018
  • Hu lab, He lab, future scientists
  • Future Scientists
  • By Joe Aung, Igor Houwat
Joe Aung portrait
Joe Aung
By Christopher Gannon

Freshly minted PRL alumnus, Kyaw (Joe) Aung, has joined the Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology at Iowa State University (ISU) as an Assistant Professor.

His lab will explore how pathogenic microbes, including bacteria and fungi, manipulate plant communication systems to their advantage. Joe aims to research these dynamic interactions between pathogenic microbes and plant cells at their primary contact sites. His group will work to provide solutions to develop innovative approaches to control plant diseases.

Joe came to MSU and joined Jianping Hu’s lab as a graduate student in 2007. There, he studied the biogenesis of peroxisomes and mitochondria - essential energy organelles within plant cells. After graduating, Joe moved to Sheng Yang He’s lab as a post-doc, where he investigated cellular and molecular biology of plant-microbe interactions. In particular, he focused on understanding how pathogenic bacteria manipulate plant cell-to-cell communication to spread disease. Joe was awarded a 2016 National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award to establish this research program, which he will continue at ISU.

“I feel extremely grateful to have had the privilege to learn from great scientists at PRL. The nourishing environment and the scientific culture at PRL laid a solid foundation for me to becoming a dedicated scientist,” says Joe. “Moving forward, I will apply everything I learned from here to develop exciting research programs and to mentor next generation scientists.”

Jianping Hu, Joe’s graduate advisor says, “It was a pleasure having Joe as a graduate student in those five years. He was a mature, productive and collegial student who made significant contributions to my research program. I am so happy to see him move on to establish his lab at Iowa State.”

Sheng Yang He, Joe’s post-doc mentor says, “Joe is great – an excellent scientist and a super nice guy. We are already missing him. In my lab, Joe did everything an excellent postdoc would do, from doing creative research, writing grants, mentoring students, networking with colleagues on and off campus, to paying close attention to job applications and interviews. It was very easy to be Joe’s mentor!”

Joe was born and raised in Burma (Myanmar). He earned his B.S. and M.S. in the Department of Horticulture from National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan. Before joining MSU, he worked as a research assistant with Dr. Tzyy-Jen Chiou in Academia Sinica, Taiwan. During his time at PRL, Joe has published a dozen peer-reviewed articles in the field of plant cell biology and plant-microbe interactions.

Good luck, Joe!