From trees to genes

Kristin is a Technician in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences.  She got her start in research in 2008 as an undergraduate student in the Rieseberg Lab, where she worked with species from the sunflower family. She graduated with a BSc. in Biology, specializing in Cell Biology and Genetics in 2009 and continued to work in the Rieseberg Lab until 2011. During this time, she assisted in projects investigating the genetic basis for invasiveness in weeds within the sunflower family. In 2011, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she had the opportunity to help set up a new lab for Katrina Dlugosch at the University of Arizona. As part of setting up the lab, she assisted in installing and troubleshooting an Ion Torrent next-generation sequencer.

At present, she manages the wet lab work for the AdapTree project. She oversees the collection of leaf samples from over 18,000 individual trees, the extraction of DNA from those leaf samples and the preparation of the DNA for the genotyping. To deal with these large numbers of samples, she uses an Eppendorf EpMotion automated liquid handler to extract DNA from 192 samples at a time. The liquid handler works by moving very precise amounts of reagents into the samples quickly and efficiently. Using the automated liquid handler allows the large number of samples to be handled efficiently as well as reduces the amount of reagents required to process them. Kristin helped to procure and install this instrument and maintains contact with the Neale lab group to use the latest protocols.

AdapTree is using next generation sequencing technology to unlock the genetic secrets of local adaptation in lodgepole pine and interior spruce. Kristin uses cutting edge technology to prepare and process the tree samples in order to get the best possible genomic data.  She carries the responsibility of ensuring that samples are processed appropriately and meet the stringent quality specifications to be sequenced.  She is enthusiastic to be part of the AdapTree team and is excited to use her experience in sequencing to help meet the goals of AdapTree and learn more about these economically and culturally important tree species.