Karla Yadira Jasso


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    California State University, Monterey Bay

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    While interning with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at Fort Ord National Monument and working in the CSUMB Plant Pathology Lab under the guidance of Dr. Jose Pablo Dundore-Arias, I participated in a variety of research projects, ranging from native habitat restoration to characterizing the population diversity of soilborne pathogens affecting locally grown crops. While interning with the BLM, I began helping plan and supervise native habitat restoration efforts and participated in community outreach efforts. Within months, I designed and implemented research projects to monitor maritime chaparral restoration site health and aided with the development of a remote sensing project aiming to enhance spatial analysis with the use of remote sensing techniques to aid in grassland management efforts.
    Throughout this past year, I have been working as a research associate leading efforts aimed at enhancing understanding of the ongoing Pythium wilt outbreak affecting lettuce production in the Salinas Valley. This project focuses on exploring the factors that influenced the geographical distribution, establishment, and development of the disease, as well as testing alternatives to control the disease.

  • Profile Question 1
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    Being curious and trying to understand the natural world has never been foreign to me. After moving to Jalisco, Mexico at the age of three, I spent a lot of my time at my grandparents’ house while my mother worked. Listening to my Tito share his traditional knowledge about local birds and plants was a daily ritual that I always looked forward to, until we moved back to the United States to reunite with my father. Once in San Francisco, my parents made it their mission to keep me engaged in the sciences, and would often take me to museums, aquariums and local wildlands and parks. While I lost the proximity to pristine environments, my curiosity and yearning to learn about the natural sciences grew stronger through the years, with the encouragement of various science educators. Although I was unsure of which branch of science to pursue, I knew I wanted to earn my baccalaureate degree in biology. After gaining land management experience through my internship with the Bureau of Land Management and plant pathology experience in the Dundore-Arias lab, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in plant pathology of agroecosystems, while mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is tough about being a scientist?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    When asking about the challenges of being a scientist, professionals often point the workload, the writing, the classes, the projects that need optimization, but no one really talks about impostor syndrome. As an undergraduate, I struggled deciding whether to pursue graduate school, as I didn’t see myself fitting in the sciences, not to mention higher education. However, that changed when I met my advisor. After discussing my concerns with him, he reassured me that I was capable of conducting research and pursuing a graduate degree. Other challenges have arisen throughout my academic career but feeling inadequate to pursue a career in plant pathology has been the most taxing challenge so far. I am fortunate to have a strong support system and advisor to remind me that I belong in higher education. Working with my mentor has not only minimized the detrimental impact of past negative academic experiences, but has also increased my self-confidence, sense of belonging, and science identity. Positive mentorship, guidance and support can have long-lasting impacts on students – encouraging them to pursue opportunities can strengthen their commitment to confidently pursue a career in the sciences.

  • Profile Question 3
    Can you share a funny/interesting lab or field story?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    Interning with the Bureau of Land Management has been a blast since day one! Although there are so many great memories that I have made at Fort Ord National Monument, the one that sticks out is going on a nature walk in the pouring rain.
    Each year, the BLM at Fort Ord has elementary school students come out to the monument to participate in hands-on restoration and native plant community workshops. During one of these events in February 2019, we hosted two elementary school groups and taught them all about maritime chaparral plant communities and restoration efforts. By mid-afternoon, the rain picked up a bit, yet the children seemed unfazed – they were still having a blast digging holes and planting the native species. Soon after their return to school, college interns and volunteers began packing up when lead supervisor and botanist, Bruce, announced he was taking us on a nature walk through a maritime chaparral after our shift to reward us for our hard work. Exhausted, but eager to explore new areas of Fort Ord and learn to identify new native plant species, we all happily agreed to join him. Just five minutes into our hour-long walk, the rain picked up and it began pouring. Bruce soon began pointing out plants and quizzing us on our knowledge of maritime chaparral species. While other people would have been frustrated having to hike and crawl through shrubs, we were having the time of our lives admiring all the fauna and flora that we often overlook. From working with students to restoring degraded sites, one thing is for certain – there is never a dull day at Fort Ord National Monument!

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?

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