By Katrina Freund Saxhaug
Hello everyone, my name is Katrina Freund Saxhaug and I am a new postdoctoral researcher with the Turfgrass Science team. I started in September and am working on the WinterTurf project investigating traits associated with winter hardiness. I am looking forward to continuing to work at the University of Minnesota and learning more about the Turfgrass Science program.
I grew up on a vegetable farm in east central Minnesota that specialized in asparagus and rhubarb production. During my undergraduate years, I worked in an evolutionary biology lab on sunflower adaptation and speciation, and I interned at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve over the summers. These experiences deepened my interest in plant science, and I earned my Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in Applied Plant Sciences. Metabolomics – a field of study focused on the measurement and analysis of all metabolites within a system – was a major part of my doctoral research experience and it has now become my main field of work. My postdoctoral work has focused on pigment production in oats and cold-hardy grapes, new biochemical control measures for Japanese beetles in woody perennial and fruit crops, the correlation of metabolomic and genomic data, and training other researchers in metabolomics methods.
I am joining the Turfgrass Science team on their WinterTurf project to investigate winter stress tolerance in perennial ryegrass from a metabolomics perspective. I am currently establishing a diverse panel of over 200 perennial ryegrass accessions and exploring different methods for sampling plants and acquiring biochemical data. I will examine the metabolomic profiles of these accessions during acclimation to identify metabolites associated with cold tolerance. I am excited to contribute to this larger project and to learn more about turfgrass breeding.
I am eager to learn more about turfgrass, as it compliments my interest in native wildflowers and grasses. I live on the Cedar Creek property and spend my free time observing and documenting plant and insect diversity. I coordinate the collection of long-term plant phenology data, train interns in plant identification, and lead weekend tour groups. I enjoy listening to and making music, and I moonlight as a choral pianist and handbell choir director. I also enjoy reading, camping with my family, and developing science experiments for children.
I am looking forward to working on the turfgrass team, learning about all aspects of turfgrass science, and contributing to our understanding of cold tolerance in turfgrass species.