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Christopher Oakley: The best place to be

After receiving his doctorate in biology from Florida State University in 2011, Christopher Oakley joined the lab of Doug Schemske, MSU Hannah Distinguished Professor of plant biology, as a postdoctoral researcher because he felt it was “the best place to be.”

“I came to MSU because it was a great opportunity to address big questions in plant evolutionary biology, experience working on a large collaborative project and develop genetic and genomic skills,” said Oakley, senior research associate.

“I also felt that Doug’s lab was the best place for me to get the intellectual and logistical support to build a new research program on the genetics of hybrid vigor,” said Oakley, who began work here on a project studying the genetic basis of local adaptation and adaptive traits in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. “The plant growth facilities at MSU are fantastic, which was very attractive to me for conducting large-scale experiments in specialized growth chambers.”

His current research blends lab studies of adaptive traits with field tests to examine the genetic basis and fitness consequences of freezing tolerance. Michael Thomashow, University Distinguished Professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences, and microbiology and molecular genetics, is a key collaborator in their work.

“At MSU, I’ve had many opportunities to learn from, and work collaboratively with, researchers from a number of labs on projects investigating the genetic basis of a wide variety of phenotypic traits,” said Oakley, who will take a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University effective January 2017.

“I’m excited to start my own lab,” he said, “but I’ll maintain close ties with MSU as part of our NSF-funded collaboration.”

 

Reprinted with permission from the Deparment of Plant Biology newsletter

Photo inset: Christopher Oakley
Photo background: Arabidopsis thaliana flowering and fruiting in the field