Faculty Spotlight: Ksenia Krasileva

With the fall semester approaching, new students and faculty will take to the Berkeley campus. Through the excitement and crowd of new faces, there is one who stands out in the College of Natural Resources. That is the familiar face of Ksenia Krasileva, a new Assistant Professor of plant biology in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. Although a new member of the faculty, Krasileva is well acquainted with UC Berkeley’s thriving campus.

As an alumna of UCB for both her undergraduate and doctorate studies, Krasileva is excited to come back to join the faculty. “I love this department, it’s collegial, and has high standards of research,” she says. “It’s really a dream job.”

Krasileva first discovered her love of plant biology in high school. She was a member of her school’s biology team and competed in biological Olympiads throughout the school year. One summer, the team collected plant samples with the goal of analyzing their genetics. Inspired by what she learned, Krasileva knew that she wanted to study plant genetics in university.

While pursuing her degrees, she moved from studying the genetics of plants to investigating their genomes. Krasileva became intrigued by what the plant genomes encode and was able to explore the importance of crop genomes and plant immune systems during her postdoctoral time at UC Davis. At UCD, she found that wheat, although having a complex genome, was an excellent model organism because of its domestication and adaptability.

After years of work, Krasileva is fully invested in wheat research and currently studies 34 different mutants of wheat crop. With her lab up and running, she has brought her love and interest of the plant immune system with her from her previous group leader post in Earlham Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory. The Krasileva lab studies plant genomics and the interactions between plants and microbes to further food security systems and answer the question, “how do plants with innate immunity recognize new pathogens?”

Along with her research and preparing her classes for next year, Krasileva is part of SPUR, a sponsored program designed for undergraduate students and faculty to collaborate on research projects. The projects Krasileva will work on for SPUR involve plant immune systems and how they defend themselves against pathogenic attacks.

An accomplished young scientist, Krasileva was given the Carlotta Award for her work in wheat research. She is a member of the International Society- Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions, Sustain Cost Action, and the Norwich Rust Group. She earned the Departmental Citation Award and Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award while pursuing her degrees at UC Berkeley.

As a former student here on campus, Krasileva offers some advice, “Make sure you know how you learn best, if it’s with people, form a study group. If you’re better by yourself, spend time in the library or a coffee shop. Knowing how you learn will help you succeed.”

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