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Marie K

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Wisconsin - Madison


genetic and molecular controls of plant cellular processes relevant to combat the climate crisis; CRISPR-Cas9 genome mediated engineering in plants; developmental, cell, and molecular plant biology


I work with a plant called Brachypodium, which is closely related to economically important crop species, such as rice, corn, wheat - things we eat! During Brachypodium’s primary root development, a curious movement at the root tip occurs that has been demonstrated to aid in soil exploration and seedling establishment. My research aim is to identify the underlying molecular pathway responsible for changes in cellular functions that result in the root tip’s movement. Outside of lab, I explore the world by taking solo trips abroad, reading, and testing out new recipes. I explore my city, Madison, WI, by biking and kayaking in the summers, and driving around in a warm car during the winters. In addition to being a biologist, I am a boxer and yogi. I enjoy attending concerts, watching stand-up comedy, and playing Bananagrams.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Engineering plants to combat the climate crisis

Using previously published expression analyses and bioinformatic data, explore a potential candidate gene which may regulate a process in plants related to plant survival and/or growth. Propose a hypothesis which outlines the potential molecular pathway in which your candidate gene functions. How would you use genetic engineering, such as CRISPR-Cas9 mediated genome engineering, to test your hypothesis? In answering these questions, I will help you to write a research proposal which addresses a potential way crop species may be improved to handle changing environmental conditions due to the climate crisis.

Teaching experience

I have mentored a couple undergraduate students in a lab setting doing hands on experiments. I am currently enrolled in a course through the school of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison titled Research Mentor Training, which is “based on a nationally-recognized curriculum, and provides concrete tools to support a successful mentor/mentee relationship.”


Work experience

Biogen (2017 - 2019)
Associate Scientist


University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Cell & Molecular Biology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
MS Master of Science (2021)
Cell & Molecular Biology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Cell & Molecular Biology

Completed Projects

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