Kaitlin Palla

Profile

  • Time Zone
    Eastern

  • Organization
    University of Tennessee - Knoxville

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I work with desert plants to understand how their special, water-use-efficient form of photosynthesis - CAM - works and to discover how we can engineer bioenergy and biofuel crops to perform the same type of photosynthesis, allowing them to withstand periods of drought or to grow on marginal, arid land that doesn't compete with agricultural food crops. In particular, I work with Kalanchoe, which is a model species for CAM work, and Clusia, which is one of the few plants that can switch from normal, C3 photosynthesis to CAM photosynthesis based on water availability.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    Kalanchoe - because it can grow tiny plantlets on the edge of its leaves, often while they are still attached to the plant! Even before these plantlets form, the leaves can be used to grow full plants - just by breaking them off and putting them on soil. They are so entertaining to watch grow and have the potential to answer some very interesting research questions in the future.

  • Profile Question 2
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My 4th grade science fair; I did an experiment on how the aquatic plant, duckweed, grows at different pHs. I got to wear a lab coat and use every-day chemicals like bleach to make different pH solutions - it was so interesting to see the distinct physical changes occurring and to gain an understanding of why it was happening. I have loved plant science ever since!

  • Profile Question 3
    What lessons have you learned in your career about how science works?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    The most important lesson I have learned is to not get discouraged and to always look for the silver lining in any mistakes or surprises. Often, experiments don't work or don't give you the results you expect, but even in those moments you learn something valuable about what is going on and it adds to your understanding of the work. One of my best insights came from an accident that ended up actually improving my experiments!

  • Availability
    I am currently available for mentoring, please send me team match invitations

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?
    2

Skills & Endorsements

  • No skills have been endorsed yet.