Mary O'Connell

Mary OConnell

Research Area: Plant Secondary Metabolism, Drought and Disease Resistances


  • Ph.D.: Biochemistry, Cornell University

  • B.S.: B.S.: Biology and Chemistry, College of Mt. St. Vincent

Positions and Employment

1975-1980 Research Assistant, Cornell University

1980-1982 Postdoctoral Trainee, Dept. Chemistry, University of California, San Diego,

1982-1991 Research Associate, Dept. Biology, University of Virginia

1982-1985 Research Associate, Dept. Biology, Univ. Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

1985-1991 Assistant Professor, Horticulture (later merged to create Agronomy & Horticulture), NMSU, Las Cruces, NM

1991-1996 Associate Professor, Agronomy & Horticulture, NMSU

1996-present Professor, Plant & Environmental Sciences (formerly Agronomy & Horticulture), NMSU

Other Experience

1986 - present Graduate Faculty member, NMSU (current term expires 05/02/2020)

1987-1998 Joint Appointment in Graduate Program in Molecular Biology, NMSU

1996-1998 Outreach Coordinator for National Biotechnology Information Facility, NMSU

1997 Panel Member, USDA-NRICGP Plant Genome

2001 Panel Member, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) program

2001-2004 Steering Committee Member, NM Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network

2002-2006 Panel Member, NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences Minority Biomedical Research Support sub-committee

2003-present Director, Minority Institution Cancer Center Partnership, NMSU/FHCRC Advancing Cancer Research

2004 Panel Member, NIH National Cancer Institute, Study Section, National Cooperative Drug Discovery Groups for Cancer

2006-present Member, Growing Biotechnology and Environmental Research Initiatives Advisory Board, Northern Arizona University

2006-present Ad Hoc member of numerous NIH special emphasis grant review panels

2009 Panel Member, USDA AFRI Plant Stress

2009-present Administrative Lead, Biospecimen/Biobanking Management Plan, NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, Region 4 [AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX]

2010-2013 Member, ACES Visioning Team, NMSU


1997 Distinguished Research Award, College of Agriculture & Home Economics, NMSU

2004 NACTA Teaching Award of Merit, College of Agriculture & Home Economics, NMSU

2006 Regent's Professor, NMSU

2008 NMSU Environmental Health & Safety "Friend of Safety" Award

2012 Distinguished Achievement Professor

2014 Westhafer Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, NMSU

2016 Teaching Academy Outstanding Mentor Award, NMSU

Efforts in Minority Student Training

NIH Minority Access to Research Careers, mentor 1986 to present

NIH Minority Biomedical Research Support/RISE program, mentor 1990 to present

NIH Bridges to Native Americans Program, mentor 1992 to present

NIH RISE Medicinal Plants of the Southwest, director 2000 to 2009


Hort 310 Medicinal Herbs

Gene 452 Applied Bioinformatics

Recent Publications (last 10 years; total 92 since 1979) Nedjat-Haiem, F., Carrion, I., Gonzalez, K., Quintana, A., Ell, K., O'Connell, M., Thompson, B., Mishra, S., (2017) Implementing an Advance Care Planning Intervention in Community-Settings with Older Latinos: A Feasibility Study. Journal of Palliative Medicine (JPM-2016-0504.R2) in press March 22, 2017

Gaire S., O'Connell, M., Holguin, F.O., Amatya, A., Scott Bundy, S., Romero, A. (2017) Insecticidal properties of essential oils and some of their constituents on the Turkestan cockroach, Blatta lateralis (Blattodea: Blattidae), J Econ Entomol 110: 584-592.

Trejo-Calzada R, O'Connell MA, Pedroza-Sandoval A, Arreola-Avila JG, Reveles-Hernandez M (2016) Diversity of drought-responsive genes in central and peripheral populations of Trifolium purpureum Loisel. Rev. Fitotec. Mex. 39:9-15.

Martin, C.A., Rodriguez, J., O'Connell, M. Steiner, R., Yao, S. (2012) Lavender cultivar trial results for north-central New Mexico, 2003 through 2005. NM AES RR-770.

Keyhaninejad, N., Richins R.D., O'Connell, M.A. (2012) Carotenoid content in field grown versus greenhouse grown peppers: different responses in leaf and fruit. HortScience 47: 852-855.

Rodriguez-Uribe, L., Guzman, I., Rajapakse, W., Richins, R.D., O'Connell, M.A. (2012) Carotenoid accumulation in orange pigmented Capsicum annuum fruit, regulated at multiple levels. J. Exp. Bot. 63:517-526. PMID:21948863

Vermillion, K., Holguin, F.O., Berhow, M.A., Richins, R.D., Redhouse, T., O'Connell, M.A, Posakony, J., Mahajan, S.S., Kelly, S.M., and Simon, J.A. (2011) Dinoxin B, a withanolide from Datura innoxia leaf with specific cytotoxic activities. J. Nat. Prod. 74:267-271 PMID: 21280589

Guzman, I., Bosland, P.W., O'Connell, M.A. (2011) Heat, Color and Flavor Compounds in Capsicum Fruit. In: D.R. Gang (ed.), The Biological Activity of Phytochemicals, Recent Advances in Phytochemistry 41: 109-126.

Guzman, I., Hambly, S., Romero, J., Bosland, P.W., O'Connell, M.A. (2010) Variability of Carotenoid Biosynthesis in Orange Colored Capsicum spp. Plant Science, 179:49-59. PMID: 20582146

Richins, R.D., Hernandez, L., Dungan, B., Hambly, S., Holguin, F.O., O'Connell, M.A. (2010) A "green" extraction protocol to recover red pigments from hot Capsicum fruit. HortScience 45:1084-1087.

Richins, R.D., Micheletto, S., O'Connell, M.A. (2010) Gene Expression Profiles Unique to Chile (Capsicum annuum L.) Resistant to Phytophthora Root Rot. Plant Sci. 178 192-201

Wang, F., Feng, C., O'Connell, M.A., Stewart, J. McD., Zhang, J. (2010) RFLP Analysis of Mitochondrial DNA in Two Cytoplasmic Male Sterility Systems (CMS-D2 and CMS-D8) of Cotton. Euphytica 172:93-99.

Coronado GD, O'Connell MA, Anderson J, Loest H, Ogaz D, Thompson B (2010) Undergraduate cancer training program for underrepresented students: findings from a minority institution/ cancer center partnership. J Cancer Educ 25:32-35. PMID: 20082168

Medina-Holguin AL, Holgui­n FO, Micheletto S, Goehle S, Simon JA, O'Connell MA (2008) Chemotypic variation of essential oils in the medicinal plant, Anemopsis californica. Phytochemistry 69: 919-927. Pubmed # 18177907

Khalil, S.K., St. Hilaire, R., O'Connell, M.A., Mexal, J. (2008) Horticulturists can grow Moonshine Yarrow on a limited moisture budget J. Env. Hort. 26:70-74.

Micheletto S, Rodriguez-Uribe L, Hernandez R, Richins RD, Curry J, O'Connell MA. (2007) Comparative Transcript Profiling in Roots of Phaseolus acutifolius and P. vulgaris Under Water Deficit Stress. Plant Sci 173:510-520.

Ji T, Ranjan D, Curry J, O'Connell MA. (2007) Computational identification of cis-regulatory elements associated with pungency of chili peppers. Proceedings of the 7th IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering. pp. 1188-1192

Medina-Holgui­n AL, Martin C, Micheletto S, Holgui­n FO, Rodriguez J, O'Connell MA (2007) Environmental influences on essential oils in roots of Anemopsis californica HortScience 42:1578-1583.

Labate JA, Grandillo S, Fulton T, Muños S, Caicedo AL, Peralta I, Ji Y, Chetelat RT, Scott JW, Gonzalo MJ, Francis D, Yang W, van der Knaap E, Baldo AM, Smith-White B, Mueller LA, Prince JP, Blanchard NE, Storey DB, Stevens MR, Robbins MD, Wang J-F, Liedl BE, O'Connell MA, Stommel JR, Aok K, Iijima Y, Slade AJ, Hurst SR, Loeffler D, Steine MN, Vafeados D, McGuire C, Freeman C, Amen A, Goodstal J, Facciotti D, Van Eck J, Causse M (2007) Tomato. In: Kole C (ed) Genome Mapping and Molecular Breeding in Plants. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: pp.1-125.

Stewart, C, Mazourek M, Stellari GM, O'Connell M, Jahn M. (2007) Genetic control of pungency in C. chinese via the Pun 1 locus. J Exp Botany 58: 979 - 991.

Ji T., Vasudevan B., Gopavarapu K., Ranjan D., Gopalan C.S., O'Connell M. (2007) Tools for Cis-element Recognition and Phylogenetic Tree Construction Based on Conserved Patterns. In: Gupta, B (ed) Computers and Their Applications, ISCA, Honolulu, HI, pp. 1-6.

O'Connell MA, Medina AL, Sanchez Pena P, Trevino MB (2007) Molecular genetics of drought resistance response in tomato and related species. In MK Razdan and AK Mattoo, (eds) Genetic Improvement of Solanaceous Crops, Vol. 2: Tomato, Science Publishers, Enfield USA pp. 261-283.

Rodriguez-Uribe L., O'Connell M.A. (2006) A root specific bZIP transcription factor is drought responsive in tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius) and common bean (P. vulgaris). J Exp Bot 57:1391-1398.

Medina AL, Lucero ME, Holguin FO, Estell RE, Posakony JJ, Simon J, O'Connell MA (2005) Composition and antimicrobial activity of Anemopsis californica leaf oil. J Agr Food Chem 53:8694-8698.

Trejo-Calzada R, O'Connell MA (2005) Genetic Diversity of Drought-responsive Genes in Populations of the Desert Forage Dactylis glomerata. Plant Sci 168:1327-1335

O'Connell M, Lara A (2005) From Curanderas to Gas Chromatography. J Coll Sci Teach 34:26-30.

Sammis TW, Mexal J, O'Connell M, Gutschick V (2003) Instrumentation class develops interdisciplinary skills. NACTA J 47: 56-60.

O'Connell MA, Richins R, Bosland PW, Phillips GC, Valera-Montero L (2003) Red or green? A molecular genetics answer to the state question of New Mexico. In R Nygren (ed) New Mexico Academy of Science, Centennial Conference Proceedings.

Blum E, Mazourek M, O'Connell M, Curry J, Liu K, Jahn M, Paran I (2003) Molecular mapping of capsaicinoid biosynthesis genes and QTL analysis for capsaicinoid content in Capsicum. Theor Appl Genet 108:79-86

Aluru MR, Mazourek M., Landry, LG, Curry J, Jahn M, O'Connell MA (2003) Differential expression of fatty acid synthase genes, Acl, Fat and Kas in Capsicum fruit. J Exp Bot 54:1655-1664