Orange Alert

Heather D. Coleman

Heather D. Coleman

Heather D. Coleman

Associate Professor


460 Life Sciences Complex
Office: 315.443.0453




  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Queensland University of Technology (2008-2011)
  • Ph.D., University of British Columbia (2008)

Social/Academic Links

Courses Taught

  • BIO 459/659: Plants and People
  • BIO 421: Biotechnology Capstone Seminar
Research Interests

Genetic and environmental control of cell wall formation, xylogenesis, plant biotechnology, molecular farming, functional genomics.

Research Spotlight

potted plants in a greenhouse

Research in the Coleman Lab focuses on understanding how plant cell walls are formed and the various internal and external factors which influence their characteristics, particularly in terms of composition and structure. The cell wall is important in plants for structure, support, defense and water transport, and from a human perspective influences the ways in which we can use plants as structural materials, food, fiber and fuel. We use poplar as a model system for this research. Current projects in the lab include the hyperexpression of cellulases in poplar and the investigation of the role that nitrogen metabolism plays in cell wall formation.

Selected Publications
  • Xiao Y, Poovaiah C, Unda F, Ritchie L, Dombrov M, Phalen C, Argyros A, Coleman HD. (2020) Expression of the Trichoderma reesei expansin-like protein, Swollenin, in poplar improves sugar release by enzymatic hydrolysis. Biomass and Bioenergy, 134: 105473
  • Strauss SH, Boerjan W, Chiang V, Costanza A, Coleman HD, Davis JM, Lu M-Z, Mansfield SD, Merkle S, Myburg AA, Nilsson O, Pilate G, Powell WA, Seguin A, Valenzuela S. (2019) Certification for gene-edited forests. Science. 365:767-768
  • Poovaiah C, Coleman HD. (2019) Development of secondary cell walls in cells adjacent to vessel elements may be controlled by signals from the vessel element. Tree Physiology, 39:511-513
  • Xiao Y, He X, Ojeda-Lassalle Y, Poovaiah CP, Coleman HD. (2018) Expression of a hyperthermophilic endoglucanase in hybrid poplar modifies the plant cell wall and enhances digestibility. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 11:225
  • Poovaiah C, Bewg WP, Lan W, Ralph J, Coleman HD. (2016) Sugarcane transgenics expressing MYB transcription factors show improved glucose release. Biotechnology for Biofuels 9: 1-18.
Biology Professor Named SU’s First Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education Fellow

(March 12, 2024)

Professor Heather Coleman will collaborate with other faculty across the country to enhance undergraduate biology instruction.

Student Research Sprouts Renewable Energy

(Feb. 11, 2020)

Dakota Voitcu investigates how fungi impact plant growth.

Sugarcane's Sweet Juice of Success

(May 26, 2017)

New strains hold potential for less intensive processing