Natalie Gonzalez

What brought you to UGA? I knew I wanted to pursue plant genetic research, so it was important to me that I had access to a diverse plant research community. UGA had the most plant researchers of any campus I applied to. Furthermore, I could tell even from the interviews that there was lots of interdepartmental collaboration and crosstalk. As someone who’s research falls between the fields of genetics and evolution, this was the exact environment I wanted to purse my graduate studies in.

What are your research/study interests? I am currently investigating the genetic basis of hybrid seed lethality, which is a common reproductive isolation barrier between different plant species. I aim to investigate the evolutionary and molecular mechanisms resulting in these incompatibilities. I’m currently in the process of identifying genes that may be incompatible between my focal species, but am also interested in investigating the role of epigenetics and gene regulation on such incompatibilities.

What has been a benefit of being part of IPS?/How did it help you select your program? ? I think IPS helped me build community which has been very important to me. The rotations also helped me think about my research questions from different lenses. Rotating in labs also allowed me to establish relationships with faculty mentors, some of whom I have asked to serve on my committee.

What are your career goals? I plan to stay in research and am considering either academia or industry.

Who is your major professor? Dr. Andrea Sweigart.