Van Volkenburgh,Elizabeth

(206) 543-6286 (office)
(206) 543-3944 (lab)
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Research Overview

This lab entertains questions of all sorts bearing on plant growth, plant movements, and plant behaviors in response to their environments. The central focus is the physiological mechanisms cells use to regulate cell expansion and growth of leaves. We are set up to measure cell growth, elongation and volume changes, and osmoregulation. We also measure electrophysiological properties associated with growth. These include measuring ion fluxes, membrane potential, and channel activity using patch clamp methods.


We use a variety of plants and behaviors, from expansion of individual leaves of Arabidopsis, pea and tobacco, to development and posture of corn leaves.


With experiments designed to discover the physiological mechanisms underlying plant cell growth and the regulation of these mechanisms by light, touch, and other factors, we are most interested in asking how plants 'behave' in response to their environment.


E. Van Volkenburgh majored in Botany at Duke University (B.S. 1973), and worked for two years as a technician, at the Smithsonian Botany Department and at the Duke University Phytotron.  She obtained a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of Washington (Ph.D. 1980) and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, Urbana (1980-81), University of Lancaster, UK (NATO Fellow 1981-82), and the University of Washington (1982-1985).  Following two years as Research Assistant Professor, she was hired as an Assistant Professor in Botany at the University of Washington (1987) where she remains as Professor of Biology, and Adjunct Professor of Environmental and Forest Science.  Her research is focused on the physiological mechanisms regulating cell and leaf expansion in plants.  This work includes photobiology, electrophysiology, and connections to ecophysiology and agriculture.  She is also exploring the new field of plant behavior, and leads the Society for Plant Signaling and Behavior.