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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Heather D. Coleman

Coleman portrait

Associate Professor and Associate Department Chair




460 Life Sciences Complex


Research Interests

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

Research Spotlight


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.


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


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

Selected Publications

  • 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.
  • Xiao Y, Poovaiah C, Coleman HD. (2016) Expression of Glycosyl Hydrolases in Lignocellulosic Feedstock: An Alternative for Affordable Cellulosic Ethanol Production. BioEnergy Research: 1-15.
  • Kinkema M, Geijskes J, deLucca P, Palupe A, Shand K, Coleman HD, Brinin A, Williams B, Sainz M, Dale J. (2015) Improved molecular tools for sugar cane biotechnology. Plant Molecular Biology, 84: 497-508.
  • Kinkema M, Harrison M, Geijskes J, Shand K, Coleman HD, Palupe A, Sainz M, Dale J. (2015) An improved chemically inducible gene switch that functions in the monocotyledonous plant sugar cane. Plant Molecular Biology, 84: 443-454.
  • Ralph J, Akiyama T, Coleman HD, Mansfield SD. (2012) Effects on lignin structure of coumarate 3-hydroxylase downregulation in poplar. Bioenergy Research, 5: 1009-1019.
  • Coleman HD, Canovas FM, Man H, Kirby EG, Mansfield SD. (2012) Enhanced expression of glutamine synthetase (GS1a) confers altered fiber and wood chemistry in field grown poplar (Populus tremula x alba; 717-1B4). Plant Biotechnology Journal, 10: 883-889.
  • Coleman HD, Yan J, Mansfield SD. (2009) Sucrose synthase affects carbon partitioning to increase cellulose production and altered cell wall ultrastructure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 106: 13118-13123.


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