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Dr. Robert J. Ferl

Distinguished Professor and Director

Mailing Address:
Fifield Hall
2550 Hull Road
PO Box 110690
Gainesville, Florida 32611

Office: 2109 Fifield Hall
Phone: (352) 273-4822

Lab website: UF Space Plants

  • Areas of Research
    • Space biology
      • Transcriptomics
      • Epigenomics
      • Proteomics
    • Plant Imaging
    • Examination of 14-3-3 proteins
    • Examination of chromatin structure
  • Educational Background
    • Ph.D., M.A., Genetics and Biochemistry, Indiana University (1980)
    • B.A., Hiram College (1976)
  • Work Experience
    • Professor, Horticultural Sciences Department (1990-present)
    • Director Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (2006-present)
    • Director Center for Exploration Life Sciences KSC (2001-present)
    • Director of UF ICBR DNA Sequencing Laboratory (1988-2005)
    • Assistant Director, UF Biotechnology Program (1994-2006)
    • Director of UF ICBR BEECS Genetics Laboratory (1992-1995)
    • Chairman, Institutional Biosafety Committee (1998-1995)
    • Administrative Council, Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research at UF (1990-1991)
    • Biological Sciences Teaching Program, University of Florida (1985-1987)
    • Acting Chairman, Department of Botany, University of Florida (1986-1987)
    • Associate Professor, Department of Vegetable Crops (1987-1990)
    • Associate Professor, Department of Botany, University of Florida (1986-1987)
    • Assistant Professor, Department of Botany, University of Florida (1980-1986)
  • Honors and Awards
    • The AIAA Jeffries Award, 2016
    • NASA Exception Scientific Achievement Medal, 2016
    • Co-recipient of NASA Award for Most Compelling Science on the ISS, awarded jointly with Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul, 2015
    • Member- National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council NASA Decadal Study, 2010
    • Chair- Science Council –Division of Space Life Sciences for USRA 2010-2013
    • UFRF Professorship 1999, 2005
    • CREES Recognition Award 1997
    • US Secretary of Agriculture Honor Award for Excellence 1997
    • Award of Excellence for Graduate Research, IFAS, University of Florida, 1994
    • Board of Examiners for GRE Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 1989 – 1996
    • Harper Collins Biology Texts
    • Faculty Research Achievement Award 1987, 1989, 1992
    • Distinguished Teaching Award, 1984 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida
    • Teacher of the Year, Lambda Gamma Phi Honorary Society, University of Florida, 1984
    • Visiting Research Scientist: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Division of Plant Industry, Canberra, Australia 3/81 to 8/81
  • Program Personnel
    • Brandon Califar, Graduate Student
    • Jordan Callaham, Lab Manager

Selected Publications

AuthorsYearTitle / DescriptionPublication

Paul A-L, Sng NJ, Zupanska AK, Krishnamurthy A, Schultz ER, Ferl RJ


Genetic dissection of the Arabidopsis spaceflight transcriptome: Are some responses dispensable for the physiological adaptation of plants to spaceflight?

PLoS One 12: e0180186.

Zupanska AK, Schultz ER, Yao J, Sng NJ, Zhou M, Callaham JB, Ferl RJ, Paul A-L 


ARG1 Functions in the Physiological Adaptation of Undifferentiated Plant Cells to Spaceflight. 

Astrobiology 17: 1077-1111.

Paul A-L, Zhou M, Callaham JB, Reyes M, Stasiak M, Riva A, Zupanska AK, Dixon MA, Ferl RJ  


Patterns of Arabidopsis gene expression in the face of hypobaric stress. 

AoB Plants 9: plx030.

LeFrois CE, Zhou M, Amador DM, Sng N, Paul A-L, Ferl RJ  


Enabling the Spaceflight Methylome: DNA Isolated from Plant Tissues Preserved in RNAlater™ Is Suitable for Bisulfite PCR Assay of Genome Methylation. 

Gravitational and Space Research 4: 28-37.

Ferl RJ and Paul A-L. 


The effect of spaceflight on the gravity-sensing auxin gradient of roots: GFP reporter gene microscopy on orbit.

Nature Microgravity 2, 15023.

Schultz E. R., Paul A.-L., and Ferl R. J. 


Root Growth Patterns and Morphometric Change Based on the Growth Media.

Microgravity Sci Technol: 1-11.

Ferl RJ, Koh J, Denison F, Paul A-L 


Spaceflight Induces Specific Alterations in the Proteomes of Arabidopsis.

Astrobiology 15: 32-56.

Paul A-L and Ferl RJ 


Spaceflight exploration in plant gravitational biology.

Methods in Molecular Biology 1309:285-305.

Paul A-L, Zupanska AK, Schultz ER, Ferl RJ 


Organ-specific remodeling of the Arabidopsis transcriptome in response to spaceflight.

BMC Plant Biology. 13:112.

Zupanska AK, Ferl RJ, Denison FC, Paul A‐L 2013 Spaceflight engages heat shock protein and other molecular chaperone genes in Arabidopsis tissue culture cells. Am. Journal of Botany 100:235-248.
Paul A-L, Wheeler R, Levine H, Ferl RJ 2013 Fundamental plant biology enabled by the space shuttle. Am. Journal of Botany 100:226-234.
Paul A‐L, Amalfitano CE, Ferl RJ 2012 Plant growth strategies are remodeled by spaceflight. BMC Plant Biology. 12:232 doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-232.
Paul A-L, Denison FC, Schultz ER, Zupanska AK, Ferl RJ 2012 14-3-3 phosphoprotein interaction networks - does isoform diversity present functional interaction specification? Front Plant Sci 3: 190.
Schultz E, Zupanska A, Manning-Roach S, Camacho J, Levine H, Paul A-L and Ferl RJ 2012 Testing the Bio-compatibility of Aluminum PDFU BRIC Hardware. Gravitational and Space Biology 26(2): 48-63.
Mayfield JD, Paul A-L, Ferl RJ 2012 The 14-3-3 proteins of Arabidopsis regulate root growth and chloroplast development as components of the photosensory system. J. Exp.Botany.
Paul A-L, Zupanska A, Ostrow DT, Zhang Y, Sun Y, Li J-L, Shanker S, Farmerie WG, Amalfitano CE, Ferl RJ 2012 Spaceflight transcriptomes: unique responses to a novel environment. Astrobiology 12: 40-56.
Paul A-L and Ferl RJ 2011 Using green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter genes in RNAlater™ fixed tissue. Gravitational and Space Biology 25(1): 40-43.
Paul A-L, Manak MS, Mayfield JD, Reyes MF, Gurley WB, and Ferl RJ  2011  Parabolic flight induces changes in gene expression patterns in Arabidopsis thaliana. Astrobiology 2011 Oct;11(8):743-58.
Ferl RJ, Zupanska A, Spinale A, Reed D, Manning-Roach S, Guerra G, Cox D, Paul A-L  2011  Performance of KSC Fixation Tubes with RNALater for orbital experiments: a case study in ISS operations for molecular biology. Advances in Space Research 48: 199-206.
Visscher AM, A-L Paul, M Kirst, CL. Guy, AC. Schuerger, and RJ. Ferl  2010  Responses of wildtype arabidopsis and ion transporter mutants to high levels of magnesium sulfate; consequences for (extra)terrestrial plant growth. PLoS One 5(8): e12348.
Ferl RJ, Paul A-L  2010  Lunar Plant Biology – A Review the Apollo Era. Astrobiology 10: 261-74.