Welcome to The He Lab!

Our research focuses on the molecular biology of host-microbe interactions, microbial pathogenesis, and hormone signaling in disease.


Congrats to the renewal of our long-term HHMI funding (2024 - 2031)!  

Sheng Yang and the lab received a second renewal of HHMI funding for 7 years!

Paula Collado Cordon and Julian Liber advance to PhD candidacy

The newly minted PhD candidates celebrated by sharing a bottle of bubbly with the lab after passing their prelim exams.

Sheng Yang He named a highly-cited researcher of 2023

Clarivate, an analytics firm, included Sheng Yang and other Duke researchers on the list of most-cited scholars this year.

Sheng Yang He lab's work featured in TheScientist

Nomura et al. 2023 was written up for a popular science audience by Kamal Nahas - A New Drug Fixes a Leak caused by Bacteria

Sheng Yang He socializes with colleagues at ICPP 2023

Prof. Sheng Yang He travelled to Lyon, France, to present at the International Congress of Plant Pathology.

Saunia Withers featured in HHMI "Get to Know" series

Read the article here.

Jonghum Kim to start as Assistant Professor at POSTECH

Congratulations as we send off Dr. Kim to start his new position at POSTECH Department of Life Sciences, South Korea! 

Members of the lab present talks and receive awards

Read more here about talk at ICAR and the Plant Microbioe Symposium!

He Lab recognized among highly cited researchers of 2022 

See the list of highly cited researchers here.

Shanice Webster awarded Hanna Gray Postdoctoral Fellowship

Shanice will use this fellowship support to investigate tritrophic interactions between the plant host, the microbiome and pathogens. The Hanna Gray Fellowship provides both postdoctoral support and funds for startup as a PI when she establishes her own lab! Read more about Shanice and her cohort here!

André Velásquez to start Assistant Professorship at Western Carolina University

André has recently accepted a position at WCU! He will be dearly missed by all and we wish him the best of luck in the next phase of his career!

Li Zhang begins Professorship at Soochow University

Li accepted a position in the Department of Biology and Basic Medial Sciences at Soochow University in China! She will be dearly missed by all and we wish her the best of luck in the next phase of her career!

Listen to Sheng Yang's Interview on NPR's Science Friday!

Sheng Yang was recently interviewed on Science Friday in regard to our lab's recent Nature publication Increasing the resilience of plant immunity to a warming climate. Click here to listen!

Hannah McMillan awarded NSF PRFB

Hannah's NSF PRFB proposal titled "Understanding microbiome impact on plant performance in a warming climate" was recently funded and will address knowledge gaps in “temperature-microbiome-plant” triangular interactions to reveal underlying principles of emergent plant and microbiome function(s) in warming conditions. Congrats Hannah!

Paula Collado Cordon joins the lab 

Paula has recently joined our lab as a Ph.D. student in the Biology Department here at Duke University. She is interested in unraveling the interplay between biotic and abiotic stress pathways, particularly how salt stress can modulate plant-microbe interactions. Welcome Paula!

He Lab recognized among highly cited researchers of 2021 

See the list of highly cited researchers here.

Shanice Webster joins the lab 

Shanice’s graduate work focused on understanding the mechanisms by which free-swimming bacteria sense surface contact and transition to surface attachment (biofilm formation). She determined a mechanism by which cysteines in a type 4 pili cell-surface-associated protein senses surface contact and initiates a signal transduction cascade to regulate intracellular levels of the second messenger molecule c-di-GMP. In the He lab, Shanice is investigating how pathogenicity affects changes in the plant microbiome and how such changes contribute to disease development.

Brad Paasch defends PhD 

Brad successfully defended his dissertation work this past November! Congratulations, Brad!

Tim Arapov departs the lab for San Francisco startup 

Tim joined the lab in October 2020 and has made several important contributions to microbiome and pathogenesis related projects in the lab. On top of being a brilliant scientist, Tim has been a wonderful colleague and lab citizen. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavor!

Hannah McMillan joins the lab 

Hannah's graduate work at Duke focused on the roles bacterial outer membrane vesicles play in plant systems. She found that these nanoscale proteoliposomes elicit immune responses in plants that can protect against future pathogen challenge. In the He lab, Hannah is looking forward to uncovering how temperature impacts the plant microbiome structure and function.

Comzit Opachaloemphan joins the lab

During his graduate studies at NYU, Comzit worked with social insects and used the Indian jumping ant as a model of study. Division of labor is crucial and stable in social insect communities; however, in jumping ants, caste switching can occur in a queenless colony. His research provided insight into the mechanisms underlying these unusual changes in ant behavior and longevity. He will be making a transition from the animal to the plant kingdom to figure out how humidity influences plant growth and disease susceptibility.

Richard Hilleary receives NIFA postdoctoral fellowship from USDA

Learn more about Rich's fellowship here! 

The He Lab Moves to Duke University

Duke University welcomes the He Lab - read more here!