about me

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Hello, my name is Kelsey Wood and I received my PhD in Integrative Genomics & Genetics from University of California, Davis. I’m continuing my research at UC Davis as a postdoctoral scholar.

My research has spanned diverse areas of biology, with most of my undergraduate research in behavioral genomics and neuroscience and my postgraduate research in plant science. My experience in these different fields has taught me that the underlying principles of genetics cross kingdom boundaries. I am amazed at the ways that different organisms, using the same basic genetic building blocks, are able to display such an incredible diversity of traits.

My career goal is to be a PI in Genomics, specifically plant genomics, and to use my research to bridge the gap between basic and applied science to increase crop productivity and work towards ending world hunger and malnutrition. Many of our favorite crops are threatened by disease epidemics, and I believe that understanding the mechanisms of plant pathogenesis holds the key to protecting our plants against these threats.

I believe that science communication is critically important to ensure funding for research and to propagate the broader impacts of research to the community. I am active in K-12 outreach and I hope to encourage the next generation, especially women and underrepresented minorities, to pursue careers in STEM.


DISSERTATION RESEARCH

Research interests: genomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, evolutionary biology, plant-microbe interactions, plant biotechnology

Current project: Comparative functional genomics and biochemistry of plant-pathogen interactions

There is an invisible battle that takes place at the molecular level during infection of plants (and animals) by pathogens. I am interested in identifying what weapons are used by both sides and how the evolutionary arms race between plant and pathogen has resulted in amazing diversification in form and function of these microscopic arsenals.

Some of the weapons that pathogens use are known as effectors, secreted proteins that suppress the plant immune system. I am studying effectors from the pathogen Bremia lactucae, the causative agent of lettuce downy mildew in the Michelmore lab at UC Davis. Our lab has recently sequenced the genome of this pathogen, and I am using several different computational strategies for predicting candidate effector genes.

In addition to contributing to our understanding of the mechanisms of pathogenesis, the study of effectors will be useful for breeding disease resistance in lettuce. In a resistant plant, effectors are recognized by certain receptors encoded by R genes (resistance genes), which leads to localized cell death and prevents the spread of the pathogen. Once effector genes are identified, they can be heterologously expressed in lettuce and screened for localized cell death to identify new sources of resistance.

The results from my study of lettuce downy mildew effector proteins has been recently published on biorxiv.


CURRICULUM VITAE

EDUCATION

University of California—Davis, California (2013-present)
PhD Candidate

Reed College—Portland, Oregon (2006-2010)
Bachelor of Arts in Biology


RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

University of California—
Davis, California (2013-present)
PhD Student,
NSF-GRFP Graduate Student Fellow (2014-2017)
Genomics of plant-pathogen interactions
Adviser: Dr. Richard Michelmore

Simplot Plant Sciences—Boise, Idaho (March 2011-Sept 2013)
Associate Scientist, Assistant Scientist, Lab Technician

Reed College—Portland, Oregon
Betty Liu Post-Baccalaureate Fellow (Fall 2010)

Senior Thesis Project (Fall 2009-Spring 2010)
“Gene expression profiles of female aggression in the Julidochromis cichlid.” Adviser: Dr. Suzy Renn.
 Thesis web summary

NIH Summer Research Fellowship (Summer 2008)
Is there a hormonal basis for the observed gender biased behaviors in African cichlid species of the genus Julidochromis?” Adviser: Dr. Suzy Renn.

Oregon Heath and Sciences University—Portland, Oregon (Summer 2010)
Vollum Summer Fellow
“MeCP2 expression in astrocytes and neurons.” Adviser: Dr. Gail Mandel.

Oregon National Primate Research Center—Beaverton, Oregon (Summer 2009)
Summer Research Internship
Effects of nicotine on GABA, glutamate, and glycine receptor expression in the prenatal airway epithelium of a non-human primate.” Adviser: Dr. Eliot Spindel.


TEACHING & OUTREACH EXPERIENCE

University of California—Davis, CA
Teaching Assistant, PLS 154: Introduction to Plant Breeding (2018)
Course instructor, Grant Writing for Graduate Students (2016 & 2017)
Teaching Assistant, ECL 243: Ecological Genomics (2016)
Teaching Assistant, GGG 201D: Graduate-level Population and Quantitative Genetics
 (2015)
Mentor for Davis High School Biotechnology Student (2014-2015)
Mentor for 12 UC Davis undergraduate student research interns (2015-present)
Volunteer, Bay Area Science Festival in Hayward and San Francisco, CA
(2014 and 2016)

Folsom High School—Folsom, CA
Sacramento Regional STEM Fair Mentor (2014-2015)

Reed College—Portland, Oregon
Animal Behavior Lab Teaching Assistant
 (Fall 2008 & 2010)

Academic Support Services Tutor:
  Science Writing (2010)
  Genetics, Organic Chemistry, Chemistry (2009-2010)
  Biology
 (2007-2010)

Elementary School Biology Outreach Instructor (2006)


PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS

Wood K, Nur M, Gil J, Fletcher K, Lakeman K, Gothberg A, et al. Effector prediction and characterization in the oomycete pathogen Bremia lactucae reveal host-recognized WY domain proteins that lack the canonical RXLR motif. bioRxiv. 2019; 679787. doi:10.1101/679787 Link

Fletcher K, Gil J, Bertier LD, Kenefick A, Wood K, Zhang L, et al. Genomic signatures of heterokaryosis in the oomycete pathogen Bremia lactucae. Nat Commun. 2019;10: 2645. doi:10.1101/516526

Wood K, Fletcher K, Gothberg A, Gil RJ, Reyes Chin Wo S, Zhai Y, Ma W and Michelmore, RW. Characterization of host-recognized WY domain effectors from Bremia lactucae that lack the canonical RxLR motif. Oomycete Molecular Genetics Meeting, Tai’an, Shandong, China, April 2018. Oral Presentation.

Wood, K, Gil J, Gothberg A, Reyes S, Truco, M, Michelmore R. Effector-Driven Identification of Downy Mildew Resistance Genes in Lettuce. Poster presentation at Plant and Animal Genome in San Diego. January 2018. Abstract

Wood, K, Gil J, Gothberg A, Reyes S, Truco, M, Michelmore R. Effector-Driven Identification of Downy Mildew Resistance Genes in Lettuce. Poster presentation at UC Davis Plant Science Symposium in Davis, CA. April 24, 2017.

Wood K, Derevnina, L, Gil J, Reyes S, Wong J, Michelmore R. Prediction and characterization of WY-domain effectors in downy mildews.Oral Presentation at Oomycete Molecular Genetics Meeting in Pacific Grove, CA. March 2017.

Wood K, Derevnina, L, Gil J, Reyes S, Wong J, Michelmore R. Prediction and characterization of WY-domain effectors in downy mildews. Poster presentation at Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions in Portland, OR. July 2016.

Wood K, Derevnina, L, Gil J, Reyes S, Wong J, Michelmore R. Comparative and functional genomics in downy mildew pathogens. Poster presentation at Plant and Animal Genome in San Diego, CA. January 2016. Abstract

Derevnina L, Reyes-Chin Wo S, Martin F, Wood K, Froenicke L, et al. (2015) Genome Sequence and Architecture of the Tobacco Downy Mildew Pathogen, Peronospora tabacina. Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions doi:10.1094/MPMI-05-15-0112-R.

Wood K, Gil J, Derevnina, L, Wong J, Reyes S, Michelmore R. Effector mining in downy mildew genomes. Oral presentation at Oomycete Molecular Genetics (OMGN) in Pacific Grove, CA. March 2015.

Wood K, Gil J, Derevnina, L, Wong J, Reyes S, Michelmore R. Mining of a plant pathogen genome to identify candidate WY-domain containing pathogenicity proteins. Poster presentation at Plant and Animal Genome in San Diego, CA. January 2015. Abstract

Wood K, Zero V, Jones A, and Renn S. (2014). Social reversal of sex-biased aggression and dominance in a biparental cichlid fish (Julidochromis marlieri). Ethology. 129(6):540-50. Link

Wood K, Chretien R, Krucker M, Rodgers W, Shakya R, Yan H, Rommens C. “Metabolic engineering of the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway in potato tubers.” Poster presentation at the Banff Conference on Plant Metabolism, 30 June 2012.

Fu XW, Wood K, Spindel ER. (2011). Prenatal Nicotine Exposure Increases GABA Signaling and Mucin Expression in Airway Epithelium. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. 44(2):222-9.

Wood K, Schumer M, Langdon Q, and Renn S. “Genomic Basis for Sex-Role Phenotypes.” Poster presentation at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Meeting, January 2010.

Wood K, Fu W, Spindel E. “Effects of nicotine on GABA, glutamate, and glycine receptor expression in the airway epithelium.” Oral presentation at Oregon National Primate Research Center, August 2009.

Wood K, Zero V, and Renn S. “Gender Bender: Plasticity of gender-biased behavior in the Julidochromis cichlid.” Poster presentation at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Meeting, January 2009.


LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE

University of California—Davis, CA
Mentorship Coordinator, Integrative Genomics & Genetics Graduate Program (2014-present)
Organizer, Integrative Genomics & Genetics Graduate Group Colloquium (2015)

Plant Breeding Symposium Student Organizer (2015 and 2016)
2015 Plant Breeding Symposium Website
2016 Plant Breeding Symposium Website


AWARDS AND GRANTS

Dean’s Mentorship Award, UC Davis (2019)
USDA-NIFA Predoctoral Fellowship (2018-2020)
Oomycete Molecular Genetics Network Student Travel Grant (2015, 2017, 2018)
Scherago International PAG Student Travel Grant (2015)
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2014-2017)
Jastro-Shields Graduate Research Scholarship (2014 & 2017)
Reed College Betty Liu Fellowship Award (2010)
SICB Charlotte Mangum Student Support Award (2010 & 2009)
Reed College Biology Undergraduate Research Project Grant (2009)
Vollum/Reed Summer Internships in Molecular Biological Research (2009)
NIH REU Summer Research Fellowship (2008)
MDU Resources Employee Scholarship (2006)


Header photo by flickr user Stuck in Customs used under a Creative Commons license.

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