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Kaitlin Palla

Bioenergy and Biofuels


Supervising Faculty: Xiaohan Yang

Kaitlin's research interests lie in plant tissue culture and transformation, plant propagation, species conservation, and plant adaptation to arid environments. She is currently focused on developing resources to establish Kalanchoë and Clusia as model resources for synthetic biology. She hopes to use my skills to explore how biotechnology can help to keep up with increasing population demands and decreasing natural resources.

As an undergraduate, Kaitlin gained experience in woody plant tissue culture while working at the USDA-FS Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, located at Purdue University. Staying on for her graduate degree, she transitioned to focusing on genetically engineering white ash trees with resistance to the emerald ash borer. Since earning her Master’s, Kaitlin has been working on a bioenergy project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the Plant Systems Biology group. Her research focuses around engineering biomass plants like Poplar to make them a more viable source of bioenergy, increasing their drought tolerance by mining the water-use efficiency inherent to the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) pathway present in many desert plants


Master of Science, Forest Biotechnology, Purdue University

Bachelor of Science, Horticultural Science, Purdue University


Awards and Recognitions

  • 2016 - Nature Plants, Volume 2, 16178 (2016) Cover photo
  • 2015 - University of Tennessee, Bredesen Center Fellowship
  • 2014 - ORNL, 2nd Annual Postdoc Research Symposium, Award for Honorable Mention in Postmasters Poster Presentation 
  • 2010 - Purdue University, FNR, Fred M. van Eck Graduate Assistantship


  • Palla, K.J., Moseley, R.C., and Yang, X.Y. Resources for synthetic biology in CAM plants: current status and prospects for the future. In preparation.
  • Yang, X., Hu R., Yin, H., Jenkins, J., Shu, S., Tang H., … and Tuskan, G.A. Kalanchoë genome reveals convergent evolution of crassulacean acid metabolism. Manuscript Submitted.
  • Liu, D., Hu, R., Palla, K.J., Tuskan, G.A., and Yang, X. (2016). Advances and perspectives on the use of CRISPR/Cas9 systems in plant genomics research. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 30:70-77.
  • Yang, X., Cushman, J.C., Borland, A.M., Edwards, E.J., Wullschleger, S.D., Tuskan, G.A., ... and Weston, D.J. (2015). A roadmap for research on crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to enhance sustainable food and bioenergy production in a hotter, drier world. New Phytologist, 207(3):491-504.
  • Palla, K.J. and Pijut, P.M. (2015). Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation of Fraxinus americana hypocotyls. Plant, Cell, Tissue, and Organ Culture 120:631-641.
  • Palla, K.J., Beasley, R.R., and Pijut, P.M. (2013). In vitro propagation of common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana L). HortScience 48(6):747-749.
  • Pijut, P.M., Beasley, R.R., Lawson, S.S., Palla, K.J., Stevens, M.E., and Wang, Y. (2012). In vitro propagation of tropical hardwood tree species – a review (2001-2011). Propagation of Ornamental Plants 12(1):25-51.
  • Palla, K.J. and Pijut, P.M. (2011). Regeneration of plants from Fraxinus americana hypocotyls and cotyledons. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant 47:250-256.


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