Principal Investigator

Sierras 081219

Dr. Katherine Waselkov, Associate Professor

I am a plant systematist and population geneticist, with broad training in evolution, ecology, and population biology. During graduate school, my research interests crystallized around the idea that very common plants are both intriguing theoretically and understudied by evolutionary biologists. In particular, I developed a fondness for the genus Amaranthus (pigweeds) that continues to the present day. The tractability of such weedy systems has been an additional benefit for involving undergraduate students in research.

See my CV and my ResearchGate profile.

Recent Perspective in Science:

Graduate Students


Kristine Fajardo

My project is on an important agricultural weed, Palmer amaranth  (Amaranthus palmeri). I am investigating the genetic diversity and connectivity of Central California Palmer populations to Southwest and Eastern/Midwestern populations to trace the origin of California populations, as well as identify possible genes linked to adaptation to California’s environment and/or invasion/range expansion. I’m using bioinformatic techniques to compare neutral markers and adaptive herbicide resistance genes between these populations, and to analyze SNP data of California populations for any overlap and/or outliers possibly linked to adaptation. After my Master’s, I plan to pursue an M.S. in Genetic Counseling or a DVM to pursue a career in the medical field, as a genetic counselor or research veterinarian!

Undergraduate Students

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Jacklyn Fajardo

 I, along with my partners Arshnoor Kaur and Andrew Cardenas, am currently working on a project regarding species of Fritillaria, F. atropurpurea and F. pinetorum. I am working on DNA extractions, PCR, gel electrophoresis to better understand the genetic differences in the populations. Specifically, distinguishing the two species using morphological characteristics. After earning my B.S. in Biology with a minor in Physical Science and Gerontology from Fresno State, my goal is to apply to medical school to pursue a career in medicine as a physician.

Andrew Cardenas

I am currently working alongside Jacklyn and Arsh on our project on the rare species Fritillaria pinetorum. I am working on DNA extractions, PCR, and gel electrophoresis to using chloroplast genes (like trnC-petN) for population genetics and phylogenetics to see if there are genetic differences between F. pinetorum and its close relative F. atropurpurea, or if they might actually be the same species, since their morphological characteristics form a continuum across the species’ ranges. After I receive my B.S. in Biology, I plan on applying to graduate school in Plant Biology.

Arshnoor Kaur

I am currently working on analyzing the genome of a few species of Liliaceae, Fritillaria alongside the other two undergraduate students, Jacklyn Fajardo and Andrew Cardenas. We are specifically looking at two local species, Fritillaria atropurpurea, and Fritillaria pinetorum, and working towards seeing the connection between the two. We are performing DNA extractions, PCR, and gel electrophoresis to better understand how comparable they are. I am also assisting the herbarium team by transcribing the digitized Fresno State Herbarium specimens to an online database. After receiving my B.S. in Biology, I am planning to attend a health professional school; I am particularly interested in attending dental school. 

Samantha Camarena

I am an undergraduate biology student, undertaking Herbarium research. In this position, I take images of pressed, dried plant specimens from natural history collections around the United States, mainly in California, then enter the data about the specimens into an online database. I intend to attend dental school after receiving my B.S. in Biology with a minor in Spanish and eventually become an Orthodontist.

Lab Alumni