Elizabeth L. Mahon: Plant Physiology First Author

Elizabeth L. Mahon, first author of “Exogenous chalcone synthase expression in developing poplar xylem incorporates naringenin into lignins”

Current Position:PhD-Candidate in Botany at the University of British Columbia, Canada

Education: MSc Plant Biology, University of Alberta, Canada; BSc Molecular Biology, University of Alberta, Canada

Non-scientific interests: Hiking, reading, swimming.

Brief Bio: During my undergraduate thesis and master’s degree, I studied under Dr. Janice Cooke’s supervision at the University of Alberta, where we investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying pine tree defense response to mountain pine beetle and its fungal associates. Mountain pine beetle is an eruptive forest pest which, due to rising winter temperatures, has reached epidemic levels leading to widespread tree mortality in the forests of Western Canada. Throughout my master’s research, I became interested in learning more about how the tools of plant biology and genetics can be applied to study problems arising from climate change and address issues of environmental sustainability. To that end, my work at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Dr. Shawn Mansfield has focused on genetically modifying poplar to improve the woody feedstock for use in biofuels, pulp and paper, and other bio-based products. More specifically, I am working to engineer poplar to produce flavonoids in actively lignifying tissue to improve processing efficiency while simultaneously adding additional value to poplar lignins.