John Z. Kiss

Dean Emeritus, College of Arts & Sciences

Dean's Office - Arts and Sciences

Email Address:

Phone: 336.334.5607


John Z. Kiss served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UNCG from 2016 – 2024, and his academic appointment is as Professor of Biology. He served as Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Mississippi from 2012-16.  John was on the faculty of Miami University (1993-2012) where he was a University Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Botany Department. He has been an instructor in 15 different courses ranging from introductory biology for first year students to advanced graduate courses. He also has mentored 57 independent research projects by undergraduates and has served as major professor for 14 M.S. students, 8 doctoral students, and 7 post-doctoral scholars.

John’s research focuses on the gravitational and space biology of plants, and he has published 119 peer-reviewed papers. He also has been invited to present seminars based on his research at universities throughout the US and in another 12 countries. He served as PI on grants from NASA, USDA, NSF, and the NIH (career total = $6.0 million) as well as PI on eight spaceflight experiments on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. In 2014, he received the NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal “for exceptional contributions in spaceflight research in the fundamental biology of plants in support of NASA’s exploration mission.” In 2021, he received the International Cooperation Medal from the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), and asteroid Kiss 8267 was named in his honor.

John was President of the Midwestern Section of the American Society of Plant Biologists (2001-02) and the American Society of Gravitational and Space Biology (2003-04). He has major editorial activities including currently serving as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Botany and as a former Editor for Advances in Space Research. Most recently, John has served as the President of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (2015-16).

More about Dean Kiss


Plant physiology and development; space biology


Ph.D., Rutgers University

Plants rely on sophisticated mechanisms to interpret the constant bombardment of incoming signals so they can adjust their growth accordingly. In my laboratory, we are interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of gravitropism and phototropism (directed growth in response to gravity and light, respectively). In the gravitropism project, we have been studying how statoliths (structures that function in graviperception) interact with the cytoskeleton in gravitropic signal transduction. In terms of phototropism, we have been examining the role of the photosensitive pigment phytochrome in the regulation of this tropism in both roots and stems. We have had a series of past spaceflight projects which used microgravity as a tool to understand the mechanisms of tropistic responses. Currently, we have been approved by NASA for several new experiments on the International Space Station to investigate plant tropisms. Our long-term goal is to understand how plants integrate sensory input from multiple light and gravity perception systems.

John’s publications and research profile are available at Google Scholar »

Kiss lab group at NC Space Grant Meeting

Hughes A.M., J.Z. Kiss J.Z. 2022. -Omics studies of plant biology in spaceflight: A critical review of recent experiments. Frontiers in Astronomy & Space Sciences

Shymanovich T., J.P. Vandenbrink, R. Herranz, F.J. Medina, J.Z. Kiss. 2022. Spaceflight studies identify a gene encoding an intermediate filament involved in tropism pathways. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 171:191-200.

Medina F.J., A. Manzano, R. Herranz, J.Z. Kiss. 2022. Red light enhances plant adaptation tospaceflight and Mars g-Levels. Life 12:1484.

Shymanovich T., J.Z. Kiss. 2020. Growth and development of ecotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana: Preliminary experiments to prepare for a moon lander mission. Gravitational and Space Research

Kiss J.Z., S.C. Wolverton, S.E. Wyatt, K.H. Hasenstein K.H., J.J.W.A. van Loon. 2019. Comparison of microgravity analogs to spaceflight in studies of plant growth and development. Frontiers in Plant Science

Herranz R., J.P. Vandenbrink, A. Villacampa,  A. Manzano, W. Poehlman, F.A. Feltus, J.Z. Kiss, F.J. Medina. 2019. RNAseq analysis of the response of Arabidopsis thaliana to fractional gravity under blue-light stimulation during spaceflight. Frontiers in Plant Science

Vandenbrink J.P., R. Herranz, W. Poehlman, F.A. Feltus, A. Villacampa,  M. Ciska, F.J. Medina, J.Z. Kiss. 2019. RNAseq analyses of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings after exposure to blue-light phototropic stimuli in microgravity. American Journal of Botany 106: 1466–1476.

Vandenbrink J.P, J.Z. Kiss. 2019. Plant responses to gravity. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 92: 122–125

Vandenbrink J.P, J.Z. Kiss. 2019. Preparation of a spaceflight experiment to study tropisms in Arabidopsis seedlings on the International Space Station. Methods in Molecular Biology 1924: 207-214.

Lionheart G., J.P. Vandenbrink, J.D. Hoeksema, J.Z. Kiss. 2018. The impact of simulated microgravity on the growth of different genotypes of the model plant Medicago truncatula. Microgravity Science and Technology 30: 491–502.

Valbuena M.A., A. Manzano, J.P. Vandenbrink, V. Pereda-Loth, E. Carnero Diaz, R.E. Edelmann, J.Z. Kiss, R. Herranz, F.J. Medina. 2018. The combined effects of real or simulated microgravity and red light photoactivation on plant root meristematic cells. Planta 248: 691–704.

Johnson C.M., A. Subramaniana, S. Pattathil, M.J. Correll, J.Z. Kiss. 2017. Comparative transcriptomics indicate changes in cell wall organization and stress response in seedlings during spaceflight. American Journal of Botany 104: 1219-1231.

Vandenbrink J.P., R. Herranz, F.J. Medina, R.E. Edelmann, J.Z. Kiss. 2016. A novel blue-light phototropic response is revealed in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana in microgravity. Planta 244:1201–1215

Vandenbrink J.P., J.Z. Kiss. 2016. Space, the final frontier: a critical review of recent experiments performed in microgravity. Plant Science 243:115–119.

Dauzart A.J.C, J.P. Vandenbrink, J.Z. Kiss. 2016. The effects of clinorotation on the host plant, Medicago truncatula, and its microbial symbionts. Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences 3:3

Kiss J.Z. 2015. Conducting plant experiments in space. Methods in Molecular Biology 1309: 255-283. 4939-2697- 8_19.


Dean John Z. Kiss discusses his time as a research leader at NASA at his TEDxGreensboro talk. Dr. Kiss has had over 80 students work with him on space research to understand the role of gravity and light in plant development.

Space4Women Show:
Space Biology – Growing Plants in Space

Circumnutation of Arabidopsis seedlings in a lunar growth chamber

Dr. Kiss on NASA TV