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. I am using techniques such as RNA extraction and gel electrophoresis, PCR, cDNA synthesis, and qPCR, to examine the possible upregulation of several candidate genes that may be involved in non-target site resistance to glyphosate in this species.
I am researching the genomics of Palmer amaranth and using genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) to determine where agriculturally invasive populations of Palmer amaranth originated. I’m interested in population structure, levels of genetic diversity, how diversity is partitioned within and among populations of Palmer amaranth, etc. I’m pursuing an M.S. in Biology.
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 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. I obtained my B.S. in Biology in Spring 2018, and my career goal is to 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. I have a 2017-18 research internship from USDA-NIFA-NLGCA, which has allowed me to work on this project in the summers of 2017 and 2018. My goal is to work with more research projects and work my learnings from them into my own graduate project or career.
I am undertaking a large greenhouse experiment in Summer 2018, involving two replications of a drought experiment on glyphosate resistant and sensitive hairy fleabane, extending the research performed by Ankit Pathak in 2016. I am pursuing a B.S. degree in Plant Science, and I am interested in pursuing a senior honors thesis focused on glyphosate resistance in weeds.
I am currently working on a project comparing the composition of endophytes between a parasitic plant (Cuscuta campestris) and one of its host plants (Helianthus annuus) in the Central Valley. This project is coadvised by Dr. John Constable and Dr. Mamta Rawat (more information about endophytes on her website). I received my B.S. in Biology from Fresno State in Spring 2017, and was accepted into the M.S. in Biology program at Fresno State in Spring 2018. After the completion of this degree, my goal is medical school, in the pursuit of becoming a doctor.
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 with the company Adaptimmune in Philadelphia.
Rigoberto Molina (Spring 2016-Fall 2017)
Rigo contributed greatly to the quest to uncover the mutations involved in conferring glyphosate resistance to Erigeron bonariensis. He utilized multiple techniques, including extensive bacterial cloning, to successfully amplify single copies of the target gene EPSPS for Sanger sequencing, and analyzed the results. His career aim is to combine his complementary interests in biology (especially genetics) and philosophy, in which he is currently double-majoring at Fresno State.
Emeline Pano (Summer 2016-Fall 2017)
Emeline helped enter data for the FSC Herbarium during Summer and Fall 2016, as a CSU LSAMP scholar. The next year, she learned DNA extraction, PCR, and microsatellite data analysis to contribute to the research on the population genetics of Phlox speciosa. She has also done research in the Ross lab at Fresno State (see here). She graduated from Fresno State with a B.S. in Biology in Spring 2018, and her career ambition is to attend graduate school for a Ph.D. and become a research scientist.
May Yang (Fall 2017-Spring 2018)
May was involved with the field work on Palmer amaranth as an undergraduate, driving over 4000 miles in 9 days to collect 22 populations between Fresno and Marfa, TX. She also helped with DNA extractions and PCR testing of the collected samples, after graduating with a B.S. in Plant Science in Fall 2017. She is currently working at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, CA. In the future, she plans to continue her studies in weed science as an M.S. student in Plant Science at Fresno State.
Pa Lee (Fall 2017-Spring 2018)
Pa entered specimen label data and mounted new plant specimens for the Fresno State (FSC) Herbarium as a work-study student in her senior year as a business administration major at Fresno State. She is responsible for a large number of very accurately entered specimens in the database CollectionSpace, and she also proofed many previous entries. She graduated in Spring 2018 and plans to pursue a career in sustainable development planning.