Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, home of Monsanto (gasp!), perhaps I was destined to be a plant biologist. Although my home city may have contributed to my passions, I distinctly remember the event that truly sparked my interest in the plant world.
When I was just 15, while shopping at a local plant nursery, my dad suggested to the manager that she hire me to help with general labor. Although my position did not require any specific plant knowledge, I could not help but read the tags for the different plants or listen to the hired specialists as they answered a variety of plant-related questions from different customers. I quickly was fascinated by plants. We were completely unaware at the time, but my dad had gotten me the job that ultimately would inspire all of my career decisions.
After graduating from high school and working at the plant nursery for nearly three years, I left to begin my collegiate career at the University of Missouri where I majored in plant sciences. During my second year in college, I began working in Dr. Candace Galen’s plant ecology lab. Soon after joining the Galen lab, I was offered an additional position in Dr. Michael McMullen’s plant genetics lab. After concurrently working in both of these labs for over a year, I sought a lab where I could have my own research projects. With help from Dr. James Schoelz, I was able to conduct my own experiments in his plant-virus biotechnology lab until my graduation. My experiences in the Schoelz lab proved to me that plant biology research is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
As a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I am mentored by both Dr. Bob Fischer and by Dr. Daniel Zilberman, working on projects that span the fields of genomics, epigenetics, plant development and bioinformatics.
My current research focuses on characterizing the roles and expression profiles of DEMETER (DME) in specific reproductive cell types. DME is an A. thaliana 5meC DNA glycosylase that plays important regulatory roles in DNA methylation and gene imprinting exclusively in the reproductive organs. It is known that DME is differentially expressed in egg vs. central cells; however, the exact effects of the initial DME expression are unknown. I am working to characterize the roles of DME (at the earliest stages of expression) to identify how this protein differentially regulates DNA methylation and gene imprinting in the egg and central cells.
B.S. Plant Sciences (emphasis in Plant Breeding, Biology and Biotechnology) – University of Missouri – May 2013
Angel, C. A., Lutz, L., Yang, X., Rodriguez, A., Adair, A. J., Zhang, Y., … Schoelz, J. E. (2013). The P6 protein of Cauliflower mosaic virus interacts with CHUP1, a plant protein which moves chloroplasts on actin microfilaments. Virology, 443(2), 363–74. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2013.05.028
Arnon Graduate Fellowship Recipient - 2014