Dr. Kathleen Wood
Department Chair and CL & Gertrude York Professorship in Biology
When I was at Texas A&M University, I started out as a premed major. But then I took a microbiology course and that changed everything. I loved it. I changed my major to microbiology, took every microbiology course I could, and made plans to go into epidemiology/public health. This dream led me to UT Austin to pursue a master's degree. While there, I also continued my involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ's International Ministry and decided to "stop out" of my studies for a year to do a mission project in Guam and the Philippines. Little did I know that one year would turn into several.
Fifteen years later we finally came back to Texas where I began a doctoral program at Baylor University in Biomedical Studies. I really wanted to continue in microbiology but there wasn't room in that lab for another graduate student so I chose what I thought was the next best thing -- molecular genetics. Again, I loved it. Manipulating DNA to build new plant viruses for viral recombination studies and building novel antisense molecules to inhibit the spread of these same viruses was fascinating to me. Although I was primarily interested in animal molecular genetic processes, I quickly realized that many of these same processes could be studied in plants more easily and inexpensively. Thus, my interest in plant molecular genetics was kindled.
In 2006 I received a Faculty Development Fund Grant from UMHB to begin a research project to characterize the genetic diversity of some breeding populations of huisache (Acacia smallii) in Central and South Texas and to identify the Rhizobiumspecies colonizing the roots of these populations. This project has since grown in scope as we have observed some possible allelopathic interactions between huisache and mesquite. Dr. Charles Tischler is collaborating with me on this extensive project, providing much of the field expertise. Some of our Biology majors have also been of great help and we are always looking for motivated, top-notch students to join us.
I truly enjoy Biology and hope that my students go beyond just "knowing" it to develop a deep and growing curiosity about life and living things. There IS more to life than Biology though. When not at school, my husband and I are very involved in the life and outreach of First Baptist Church Troy and have grown to love and enjoy the fellowship there. When I do have time to just relax at home, I can usually be found reading or hanging out with our dog. I also enjoy gardening, quilting, and animals of just about any kind.
Characterization of four breeding populations of huisache (Acacia smallii), including the genetic diversity (using ISSR-generated data), Rhizobium colonization, secondary meristem development and allelopathic interactions with mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa). This project is being done in collaboration with Dr. Charles Tischler. For more information on this project, click here.