Popova, Elena, Ph.D

Photo of Elena in her office


Postdoctoral Fellow


I am a plant cryobiologist specialized in genetic collections. My whole life is driven by two powerful forces: a personal commitment to nature conservation and my desire to delicately support and inspire people around me in their development and growth. I completed my Ph.D. in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry at the Institute of Plant Physiology of Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia), and have worked for five years in biodiversity conservation centres in South Korea. While at Chungbuk National University (2007-2009), I developed cryopreservation protocols and in vitro culture systems for Asian medicinal plants such as Panax spp., Ginkgo biloba, etc. At the Germplasm management team of the National Agrobiodiversity Center (2009-2011) we developed an innovative systematic approach to long-term conservation and sustainable use of clonally propagated crops. This system has been applied successfully to different plant varieties including the whole Allium collection, and encompassed into the “International Training on Genebank Management System for ASEAN countries” (2010). My research at the Korea Forest Research Institute, Division of Forest Genetic Resources (2011-2012) was focused on desiccation behaviour and conservation methodology for seeds of Korean forest trees. I joined GRIPP in November, 2013. Our long-term, and most ambitious, goal is to develop the long-term conservation methodology for staple agricultural crops of both tropical and temperate origin such as breadfruit, African violet, etc. based on the systematic approach instead of “blind” screening of variants. I also am a part of the programs aiming to conserve American elm and hazelnut genetic diversity. Our fundamental research objective is to investigate plant cell response to severe drought and chilling stress associated with cryopreservation using biochemical, genetic and molecular approaches. Together with my colleagues, we work to reveal the potential role of melatonin to improve regeneration of plant materials subjected to cryopreservation. As an experienced researcher and traveler, I enjoy being surrounded by people with various socio-cultural backgrounds, supervising students and sharing my knowledge with my friends and colleagues (which are often one and the same). I am passionate about travelling, Asian music, opera and photography, and frequently spend my free time practicing tai-chi or reading books.