Katherine Leehy


Assistant Professor in Biology

My research uses CRISPR/Cas9 to make genome edits in Arabidopsis thaliana (aka thale cress) to explore gene function. One project in the lab focuses on understanding how telomeres (the ends of linear chromosomes in eukaryotes-like humans) are protected and maintained by specialized protein complexes. Specifically, we are hoping to develop a better understanding of TEN1, a protein that is part of the three protein complex CST. TEN1 seems to have a role beyond that of other CST members, but to fully understand the protein function we need to generate a knock-out of the TEN1 gene using CRISPR/Cas9. The other project in my lab is focusing on understanding how plants cope (or don't cope) with abiotic stresses like heat, drought, and high soil salinity so that we can develop plants that are even more tolerant to these stresses with our changing climate. We are focusing on long intergenic non-coding RNAs that produce very small polypeptides and are regulated in response to these stressors. After knocking out these genes with CRISPR/Cas9, we can examine how these plants grow/develop and respond to environmental stress through high throughput phenotyping (computer-assisted image analysis of our growing plants). Paired with biochemical analysis, we can determine the function of these genes. 


PhD Texas A&M University Biochemistry

Areas of Expertise

molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry

Courses Taught

BIO-201 (Cell and Molecular Biology), BIO-201 (Cell Biology Lab), and BIO-374 (Genetics)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
BIO-388 Molecular Genetics Lab 5 2022/SP, 2021/FA, and 2021/SP
BIO-388 Molecular Genetics 3 2022/SP, 2021/FA, and 2021/SP
BIO-201 Cell Biology Lab 3 2020/FA
BIO-374 Genetics 2 2021/FA and 2020/FA
BIO-392 Biology Research 1 2022/JN