Skip to Main Content

Jiaxin Long - Graduate Ag Research Spotlight

I want to know what is happening — I’m interested in how different epigenetic marks contribute to gene expression and corresponding phenotypes.

- Jiaxin Long, PhD student, Department of Biochemistry


Jiaxin Long says that while her intent to study science never changed, her specific interests did. The native of Taiyuan, China, completed one year of study in materials science at Donghua University in Shanghai, working with a group focused on heart research. However, Long was more interested in fundamental lab research. Her father encouraged her to “see the bigger world,” so she transferred to the University at Buffalo and majored in biomedical sciences. “I like to investigate the basic mechanism of what’s happening in the cell,” she explains. Genetics in particular sparked her interest. After working in a lab her senior year, Long decided to pursue further study “to see how I would work more independently as a graduate student. I saw that the Purdue program had a very strong group of faculty working on genetics and chromatin. The diversity within this group of faculty — their different perspectives on the chromatin pathways — gave me a chance to try different flavors of the things I like.” She arrived at Purdue in 2017 to work with Joe Ogas, professor of biochemistry.

THE RESEARCHjiaxin-long-01.jpg

Long’s research focuses on the repressive epigenetic mark H3K27me3, which she characterizes as “lock” that causes other machinery to stop, silencing gene expression. Using the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana, Long’s genetic and bioinformatic analysis contributes to understanding the mark’s role in silencing gene expression. Adding her data to that in previously published papers will enable researchers to better determine what patterns to study — “trying to make it all make sense,” she says. “Another thing we’re trying to figure out is how proteins have certain specialized functions. Those are exciting research topics.”


Her advisor, Long says, “gives us a lot of flexibility to explore the things we enjoy but also gives us focus and pays attention to the details. He cares about how we can become independent researchers in the future.” Collaboration and cooperation across distinct biochemistry labs have been key in strengthening her skills in bioinformatic analysis, she adds. The latter led her to work on a comparative oncology project during a two-year assistantship at Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research. “It turned out I could use my skills applied to totally different topics, and I learned other techniques in this process as well,” she says. Long also has gained experience supervising undergraduates in the Ogas lab.

FUTURE PLANSjiaxin-long-02.jpg

Long is in the final year of her program and plans to search for a postdoctoral position. “I worked with plants for six years but would like to apply my special skills to other fields and expand my knowledge and skill set,” she says. “I still have my mentors, but I really want to see if I can be an independent researcher as a postdoc, generating new ideas.” She is unsure if her next step might be academia or industry: “I can see the pros and cons of both,” she says. “I’m open to all opportunities.” Outside of the lab, Long enjoys hiking, swimming and playing badminton with friends.

Featured Stories

Purdue College of Agriculture.
New "Legendary Leaders" Award Celebrates Study Abroad Leaders

Inaugurating a new College of Agriculture tradition, faculty and staff recently gathered to...

Read More
Mature open oak woodland with a diverse understory after implementing a shelterwood harvest and prescribed fire as stewardship practices.
Publication Teaches Landowners How to Support Oak-Hickory Ecosystems

Oak-hickory forests, which are comprised of a variety of different tree species, shrubs, grasses,...

Read More
A picture of the dairy judging team with their awards. Pictured from left to right are Emma Townsend, Evan Coblentz, Jackie Mudd, and Alaina Weaver.
Purdue Dairy Judging Team garners success at recent contest

The Purdue Dairy Judging Team competed in the Western National Collegiate Dairy Judging Contest....

Read More
Professor works in lab at Purdue
Purdue-led fishing expedition nets new pupfish family member in New Mexico

Scientists have identified a new member on the genetic family tree of an endangered pupfish...

Read More
pots of spruce and other native trees sit in the bed of a wooden trailer behind the Grounds Department Truck
Thousands of trees, hundreds of volunteers, five years and one giant leap for the Purdue Arboretum

The clayey Indiana soil, still saturated from the last spring shower, squishes under shovels. The...

Read More
Alex Dudley holds a black vulture; Alex is pictured through a hole in a rock formation; Alex holds her camera in front of a forested mountain landscape.
Meet FNR Outstanding Senior Alex Dudley

From her research on black vulture ecology in the Zollner lab and on digital forestry under Dr....

Read More
To Top