Recognizing Plant Direct authors: Amy Klocko

Amy Klocko, first author of RNAi of AGAMOUS genes in sweetgum alters reproductive organ identity and decreases fruit persistence

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Plant Genetics, Department of Biology, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

Education: Bachelors in Biology from Linfield College (McMinnville Oregon USA), PhD in Plant Biology from Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis Missouri USA)

Non-scientific Interests: family time with my husband and young son, large mugs of hot tea, gardens, hiking, cats, and reading

Brief bio: I’ve always loved plants.  When I was a kid I was always trying to grow them, my parents still have the prickly pear cactus that I sprouted from a seed.  In college, I decided to major in biology.  During this time, I had the opportunity to perform research with Dr. J. Christopher Gaiser on ovule and floral development genes in Arabidopsis thaliana.  I liked this experience so much that I decided to pursue a PhD in Plant Biology.  I joined the lab of Dr. Erik Nielsen at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (current lab location, University of Michigan).  In graduate school, I studied the regulation of intracellular membrane trafficking during pollen tube growth in Arabidopsis thaliana.  Afterwards, I studied the myosin family of motor proteins and the exocyst complex in the labs of Dr. Valerian Dolja and Dr. John Fowler at Oregon State University.  During this time I planted a plum seed in my backyard, and I enjoyed watching it grow and bear fruit, as my own scientific career did in parallel.  In 2012, I started a postdoctoral position in the lab of Dr. Steven H. Strauss at Oregon State University and worked on several projects related to strategies to mitigate pollen and seed mediated gene flow from transgenic angiosperm trees.  Part of my work was with a field planting of sweetgum trees, which had been established in 2007.  In 2014 we finally observed the first year of long-awaited sweetgum flowers.  Analysis of these trees resulted in our recent publication in Plant Direct, which represents over 20 years of science from a fantastic and dedicated group.  In 2017 I moved to Colorado, by then my plum tree was flowering and far too large to relocate.  However, my friends from Oregon gave me an apple tree as a farewell present.  I have been at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs since fall 2017, first as an instructor and currently as an assistant professor.