Dr. Katherine Waselkov, Assistant 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.
I am conducting research on the genetic basis of glyphosate herbicide resistance in hairy fleabane (Erigeron bonariensis) for my M.S. in Biotechnology. This summer I learned techniques such as RNA extraction and gel electrophoresis, PCR, cDNA synthesis, and qPCR, and later this year I will be analyzing RNA-Seq results for this project.
I’m currently working on a project that investigates population genetics of Phlox speciosa. I have collected plant samples and used flow cytometry, DNA extraction and microsatellite analysis as methods to verify the ploidy level and genotypes of the species. The goal of my project is to obtain genetic information that can answer questions about the taxonomy and evolution of the genus Phlox. My career goals are to obtain my B.S. in Biology and attend medical school. I plan to practice as a medical doctor with a specialty in neurology.
I am working with Hairy Fleabane, a common summer Central Valley weed. I study its germination rate and survival rate after being treated with glyphosate, a very commonly used herbicide. My goal is to work with more research projects and work my learnings from them into my own graduate project or career.
I am attempting to uncover the mutations involved in conferring glyphosate resistance to a weed known as Erigeron (Conyza) bonariensis. We have utilized multiple techniques to prepare the plant DNA for Sanger sequencing and are currently analyzing the results. My career aim is to conduct genetic research on problematic organisms, plant or animal, in efforts to understand the biological foundation of any detriment they may have on others.
I helped enter data for the FSC Herbarium during Summer and Fall 2016, as a CSU LSAMP scholar. This semester I am working on the population genetics of Phlox speciosa. I will be learning DNA extraction, PCR, and microsatellite data analysis to determine gene flow and structure between populations of this widespread species. I have also done research in the Ross lab at Fresno State (see here). My career ambition is to attend graduate school for a Ph.D. and become a research scientist.
I will be involved with the field work on Palmer amaranth this semester. This is the first semester for this project, so our focus is on collecting samples. In the future, I plan to continue my studies in weed science as an M.S. student in Plant Science at Fresno State.
I am currently working on a project comparing the composition of endophytes between a parasitic plant (Cuscuta campestris) and a variety of its host plants in the Central Valley. This project is coadvised by Dr. Mamta Rawat (more information about endophytes on her website). I received my B.S. in Biology from Fresno State in the spring of 2017. I am striving towards acceptance into the Master’s Program at Fresno State, followed by medical school, in the pursuit of becoming a doctor in the future.
Ivan Ceballos: Ivan helps enter data for the FSC Herbarium during his spare time, just because he likes data entry so much! See his primary research in the Walter lab here.
Ankit Pathak (Fall 2015-Spring 2017)
Ankit was the first M.S. student in the Waselkov lab, in the Biotechnology program at Fresno State. His project was a greenhouse common garden experiment testing the fitness costs of glyphosate resistance in hairy fleabane, in well-watered vs. drought conditions. He worked very hard and collected a plethora of data, which awaits replication for publication. After graduation, he obtained a position in medical data analysis in New Jersey.