Curriculum Vitae

Siela Maximova

The Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA, 16802

Professional Preparation

Agricultural University Plovdiv, Bulgaria Agricultural Engineering and Horticulture BS/ MS 1992
The Pennsylvania State University University Park Plant Physiology PhD 1997
The Pennsylvania State University University Park Plant Biotechnology 1997 - 1999


Administrative fellow, Strategic Research Initiatives Coordinator, Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, College of Agricultural Science, The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) 2015-present
Inaugural Henrietta H. Fore Women in Science Fellow, CRDF Global 2014 (Sep-Dec)
Research Professor of Plant Biotechnology, Department of Plant

Science, PSU

Co-Director, American Cocoa Research Institute Program in the

Molecular Biology of Cocoa, PSU

Senior Research Associate and Associate Professor, Department of Plant Science, PSU 2008 - 2013
Director, Plant Sciences, Capital Technology International, Pittsburgh, PA 2008 - 2009
Research Associate, Program for Molecular Biology of Cacao, PSU 1999 - 2008
Visiting scientist, University of California, Davis 1996 (March-Sep)


A list of five products most closely related to the proposed project

  1. Fister AS, Leandro-Muñoz ME, Zhang D, Marden JH, Tiffin P, dePamphilis C, Maximova S, Guiltinan MJ: Widely distributed variation in tolerance to Phytophthora palmivora in four genetic groups of cacao. Tree Genetics & Genomes 2020, 16(1).
  2. Hamala T, Guiltinan MJ, Marden JH, Maximova S, dePamphilis C, Tiffin P: Gene expression modularity reveals footprints of polygenic adaptation in Theobroma cacao. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2019, msz206.
  3. Gallego AM, Rojas LF, Parra O, Rodriguez HA, Mazo Rivas JC, Urrea AI, Atehortúa L, Fister AS, Guiltinan MJ, Maximova SN et al: Transcriptomic analyses of cacao cell suspensions in light and dark provide target genes for controlled flavonoid production. Scientific Reports 2018, 8(1):13575.
  4. Mejía L, Herre E, Sparks J, Winter K, García M, Van Bael S, Stitt J, Shi Z, Zhang Y, Guiltinan M et al: Pervasive effects of a dominant foliar endophytic fungus on host genetic and phenotypic expression in a tropical tree (reprint). Recent Advances in Symbiosis Research: Integrative Approaches 2017:52-67.
  5. Leandro-Muñoz ME, Tixier P, Germon A, Rakotobe V, Phillips-Mora W, Maximova S, Avelino J: Effects of microclimatic variables on the symptoms and signs onset of Moniliophthora roreri, causal agent of Moniliophthora pod rot in cacao. PLOS ONE 2017, 12(10):e0184638.

A list of five products significant but may not be related to the proposed project

  1. Pokou DN, Fister AS, Winters N, Tahi M, Klotioloma C, Sebastian A, Marden JH, Maximova SN, Guiltinan MJ: Resistant and susceptible cacao genotypes exhibit defense gene polymorphism and unique early responses to Phytophthora megakarya inoculation. Plant Mol Biol 2019, 99(4-5):499-516.
  2. Gallego AM, Rojas LF, Rodriguez HA, Mora C, Atehortúa L, Urrea AI, Guiltinan MJ, Maximova SN, Gaquerel E, Zuluaga M et al: Metabolomic profile of cacao cell suspensions growing in blue light/dark conditions with potential in food biotechnology. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (PCTOC) 2019.
  3. Maximova S, Guiltinan M: The potential of somatic embryogenesis for commercial-scale propagation of elite cacao varieties. In: Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa. Edited by Umaharan P: Burleigh Dodds Scientific Publishing; 2018.
  4. Fister AS, Landherr L, Maximova SN, Guiltinan MJ: Transient Introduction of CRISPR/Cas9 Machinery Targeting TcNPR3 Enhances Defense Response in Theobroma cacao. Frontiers in Plant Science 2018.
  5. Maximova S, Florez S, Shen X, Niemenak N, Zhang Y, Curtis W, Guiltinan M: Genome-wide analysis reveals divergent patterns of gene expression during zygotic and somatic embryo maturation of Theobroma cacao L., the chocolate tree. BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14(1):185.

Synergistic Activities

  1. National Level Service: NSF review panel (2019); Ad-hoc reviewer for USDA-ARS National Programs (NP), Crop Production, Tropical and Subtropical Crops (2014); USDA-ARS NP 301 Panel, Cacao (2013); Citrus Research and Development Foundation (2011);
  2. International Level Service: Vice chair of the LGU consortium for Colombia; Co-Coordinator of the Penn State Cacao and Chocolate Research Network; Co-organizer of international cacao genomics workshop at the plant and animal genome meeting in San Diego, CA (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020); Co-organizer of the Plant Biology Symposium at Penn State (2015 and 2018); Member of the organizing committee of the International Symposium for Cacao Research in Lima, Peru (2017); Co-organizer of International Cacao symposium in Barranquilla, Colombia (2017); Co-organizer of International Cacao meeting at Penn State (2016).
  3. Service to the University: Senator, Faculty Senate, Vice Chair: Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity; Member University Graduate Council, Chair: Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity; Coordinator of the Penn State Global Engagement Network for Colombia;
  4. Recent communication of research results to the general public: a lecture presentation "Hot Chocolate: Helping the Cacao Plant Adapt to Climate Change" as part of the 2014 PSU lectures on the Frontiers of Science; Co-organized two-day children and adult event "Science of CHOCOLATE" at the Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, a new museum where children ages 2 to 12 can experience science first-hand (2012, 2013);