Main navigation

Faculty & Staff Directory

Back to Employee Directory
Han Chuan Ong
Professor of Biology


Although I come from a family of accomplished teachers — my dad, a math and English teacher, was the assistant principal at my elementary school — I never thought I would choose teaching as my vocation. In a way, I was intentionally ignoring my own DNA. The inspiration to teach eventually came in the form of my freshman biology professor, Dr. Austin Brooks. It was simply enthralling to be taught by him because he made learning fun, simple, exciting, and lasting. Therefore, one of my life-long goals is to become an effective teacher like him.

My graduate training in molecular biology and genetics focused primarily on studying the evolution of plant mitochondrial genes and genomes. The result was a dissertation on why and how mitochondrial genes move intracellularly (from the mitochondrion to the nucleus) and horizontally (from the mitochondria of one plant to another). This inquiry was extended to the study of chloroplast genomes of marine and freshwater algae for my postdoctoral research at the University of Washington in Seattle.

At King University, I teach the following courses: Principles of Biology, General Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, and Evolutionary Biology. I have led many study abroad trips over the years and will continue to lead more in the future.

For leisure, I think I am a good student of cooking and love to hone my skills at classical singing. Also, the presence of my three sons necessitates constant upkeep of the house and their hygiene.

  • Post-doctoral Research, University of Washington (Genome Science & Molecular Biology)
  • PhD, Indiana University (Molecular Biology & Genetics). Dissertation: Intracellular and horizontal transfer of mitochondrial genes in grass evolution: pseudogenes, retroprocessing, and chimeric genes.
  • BA, Wabash College (Biology)
Recent Publications and Presentations
  1. Ong H.C., Rice D.W., Barendt S.M. and Palmer J.D. Mosaic Genes and the High Rate of Neutral Horizontal Gene Transfer in Plant Mitochondrial Genomes. In prep.
  2. Wu Z., Sloan D.B., Brown C.W., Rosenblueth M., Palmer J.D. and Ong H.C. (2017) Mitochondrial retroprocessing promoted functional transfers of rpl5 to the nucleus in grasses. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 34:2340-2354.
  3. Thomas D.J., Boyd M., Curtwright A.E., Foll M.N., Kuehl M.M., McQueen V.M., Middaugh C.R., Moore V.M., Moreno M.G., Morgan C.A., Powers M.P., Reeves K.M., Robinson G., Ward K.R. and Ong H.C. (2011) A biological inventory of Meacham Cave (Independence County, Arkansas). Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science, 65.
  4. Ong H.C., Wilhelm S.W., Gobler C.J., Bullerjahn G., Jacobs M.A., McKay J., Sims E.H., Gillett W.G., Zhou Y., Haugen E., Rocap G. and Cattolico R.A. (2010). Analyses of the complete chloroplast genome sequences of two members of the Pelagophyceae: Aureococcus anophagefferens CCMP1984 and Aureoumbra lagunensis CCMP1507. Journal of Phycology 46:602-615.
  5. Cattolico R.A., Jacobs M., Zhou Y., Chang J., Duplessis M., Lybrand T., McKay J., Ong H.C., Sims E. and Rocap G (2008). Chloroplast genome sequence analysis of Heterosigma akashiwo CCMP452 (West Atlantic) and NIES293 (East Pacific) strains. BMC Genomics 9: 211 (17 pages).
  6. Ong H.C. and Palmer J.D. (2006). Pervasive survival of expressed mitochondrial rps14 pseudogenes in grasses and their relatives for 80 million years following three functional transfers to the nucleus. BMC Evolutionary Biology 6: 55 (16 pages).
  7. Adams K.L., Ong H.C. and Palmer J.D. (2001) Mitochondrial gene transfer in pieces: fission of the ribosomal protein gene rpl2 and partial or complete gene transfer to the nucleus. Molecular Biology & Evolution 18: 2289-2297.
Back to Employee Directory