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K. Alice Wood (Bulkeley) Fox

Senior Research Support Specialist, Whipps Fish and Wildlife Diseases Laboratory, SUNY-ESF

My Background

Yucca pollination


July 2014: Hand-crossing Y. reverchonii with Y. rupicola pollen.

Photo by Pristine Mei.

I currently hold four years of Laboratory Technician experience, having worked in various biology laboratories at Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF. From coevolution to species interactions; plant ecology to wildlife diseases, my exposure to the underlying biological processes that mold our planet is broad.

Prior to moving to Syracuse, NY in 2012, I earned a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Communication Arts (journalism) and Spanish (literature) from Hood College (Frederick, MD) in 2001. After graduation, I moved to Ithaca, NY where I held a dual appointment at Cornell University as Program Assistant to The McKnight Foundation Collaborative Crop Research Program; and Administrative Assistant to the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe-Biology from 2001 to 2012. Immersed in a vibrant department and inspired by the research around me, I decided to pursue a long-desired degree in plant science through the Employee Degree Program. In 2011, I graduated with a Master of Science degree in Horticultural Biology, specializing in greenhouse management and plant propagation.

On this web page, you will find descriptions of my research projects, photo galleries, publications, and a few extras. I hope you enjoy learning about my experiences as much as I have enjoyed experiencing them!


Summary of Research Projects: 2012-2016


Master's Research

I examined bud origin of African violet (Saintpaulia) floral chimeras, which bear flowers with a characteristic pinwheel-stripe pattern. The symmetrical color arrangement of a periclinal chimera is the phenotypic expression of genetically disparate layers of the three layer tunica-corpus meristem. To successfully maintain the chimeral form, axillary buds must be used in propagation.

In the first of two experiments, I sought to increase axillary bud production using a range of cytokinin (lateral bud-inducing) concentrations. The second experiment served a dual purpose: to examine the single or multicellular origin of adventitious buds; and to establish that cultivars used in the first experiment were true floral chimeras. Both parts of this experiment were elucidated using adventitious buds, which are produced by de novo meristems in the leaves. In a true floral chimera, plantlets that arise from adventitious buds will express one or the other phenotype, or both in non-pinwheel (bicolor form).

Increasing cytokinin concentration increased axillary bud production; however, it also increased stunting and morphological abnormalities, thus negating the benefit of using a growth regulator. All three cultivars used in the experiment were true floral chimeras, and the majority of buds predictably arose from histogenic layer 1. The presence of  bicolor phenotypes suggests that buds arise from a single cell and that adjacent cells contribute to the final phenotype.

To see photos from my Master's research, follow the link to the gallery.



A sectorial chimera from in vivo propagation.              Photo by K. Alice Wood Fox.

More photos in the Master's Research Gallery


Whipps Fish and Wildlife Disease Laboratory, SUNY-ESF


A potential test subject for the New England Cottontail project.
Photo by K. Alice Wood Fox.

In March 2016, I began my appointment as Senior Research Support Specialist for the Whipps Fish and Wildlife Diseases Laboratory at SUNY-ESF. I am currently working on DNA fingerprinting of cottontail rabbits and white-tailed deer for individual ID, species ID, and population structure analysis;  sequencing prion disease in white-tailed deer populations; and detection of Pseudoloma in Zebrafish aquarium cultures using qPCR techniques.

Frank Laboratory, Syracuse University

In 2016, I briefly joined the Frank Laboratory for a study of plant Carbon-Nitrogen content at varying altitude and grazing intensities at Yellowstone National Park. This project was set up in 1988 to study the effect of grazers on the coevolved plant-grazer-soil-microbe system found in Yellowstone. To read more about this project, follow this link. More will be posted in this section soon.



Roughly 1,000 samples were run for this project. Photo by K. Alice Wood Fox.

Fridley Laboratory, Syracuse University


May 2015: Looking for tree seedlings and taking data on day 1! Photo by K. Alice Wood Fox.

In 2015, I joined the Fridley Laboratory for the Succession across Latitudinal Gradients Network (SLaGNET) project, which examines plant succession rates in Northern vs. Southern old fields. Previous research indicates that the rate at which woody species colonize and establish in old fields decreases as latitude increases; that is, it takes much longer for Northern woody pioneer tree species to establish (>50 years) than Southern woody species (<10 years) in an old field.  Using six research sites spanning from Syracuse to northern Florida, the project will elucidate whether faster succession rates in the South are driven by climate (temperature, rainfall); edaphic properties (soil composition, fertility), or the competitive properties of species pools, whose identities vary by latitude.

There are six experimental sites, three in the North (Syracuse Experimental Research Garden, Syracuse NY; Hutcheson Memorial Forest, Somerset NJ; The Cary Institute of Ecological Studies, Millbrook NY) and three in the South (Duke Forest, Durham NC; Horseshoe Bend Institute of Ecology, Athens GA; Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee FL). Each research station has control and treatment plots, such as those shown below, to test three hypotheses:


1. Soil hypothesis: edaphic properties drive woody pioneer growth more than climate and regardless of species pool.

2. Climate hypothesis: woody pioneer species grown faster and have greater survivorship regardles of provenance (origin).

3. Species pool hypothesis: woody pioneer species common to the Southern and mid-latitudes have faster growth rates than those of Northern latitudes.

Currently, I am checking each of these plots for existing and woody pioneer seedlings, which are grouped by their natural ranges:

Northern Woody Pioneers
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Redcedar)
Prunus serotina (Black Cherry)

Southern Woody Pioneer Species
Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum)
Pinus taeda (Loblolly Pine)

I have made a short video about the project, which can be viewed by clicking on the link:
SLaGNet: The Movie

Link to the pool galleries

Althoff/Segraves Laboratories: Greenhouse Research

Yucca pollination


The Yucca House: over 250 yucca plants currently reside in 503 LSC. Photo by K. Alice Wood Fox.

More photos in the Greenhouse Research Gallery
Since October 2012, I have grown and maintained several species in the research and teaching greenhouses. Currently, there are more than 250 individual Yucca plants in the following groups: 

Y. aloifolia and Y. filamentosa from seed, June 2013
Y. aloifolia and Y. filamentosa from the Outer Banks, 2014
Y. glauca<-->pallida reciprocal crosses from seed, October 2012
Y. aloifolia #163 from seed, March 2014 (suspected clones)

During times of active insect population maintenance, I grow their favorite host plants: clover, alfalfa, and oats. I have even grown stinging nettle!

1. 2014: I phenotyped Y. glauca<-->pallida reciprocal cross hybrids to determine if traits such as leaf color and leaf margin type are linked, and if they are continuous or discrete. I created a color chart to document each phenotype. Check out the photo gallery to see some of the different leaf colors produced by these crosses, as well as a sampling of the plants I have grown.


Althoff/Segraves Laboratories: Molecular Research

I have been trained in molecular techniques pertaining to DNA sequencing, DNA fingerprinting, PCR and gel electrophoresis. Over the past two years, I have optimized and executed protocols for the following methods:

1. Microsatellites (MSATs)
2. AFLPs
3. Bacterial cloning
4. Cycle sequencing
5. DNA extraction: several methods for both plants and insects

For analyzing results of the molecular methods above, I have used genetic analysis software such as GeneMapper and GeneMarker to score MSATs; Sequencher to read, clean and create contigs of DNA sequences; Structure and GenAlEx for examining population structure; R and Jump for statistical analysis.

In addition to molecular techniques, I regularly restocked laboratory stock solutions; made sterile media (liquid, plate) for yeast growth experiments; performed regular pipette calibration; performed regular laboratory supply inventory; and cleaned/sterilized labware (autoclaving).

Molecular Research Projects
1. 2012-2013: I optimized primers for eight loci; generated and analyzed MSATs for 400+ Prodoxus decipiens from 23 Eastern US populations for a study on population structure by host-plant use (see publication 3).

2. 2013: I optimized five primers for graduate student research on Aphidius ervi.

3. 2013: I assisted with the Tegeticula corruptrix sequencing project. I ran cycle sequencing on mtDNA of 100+samples; analyzed and edited sequences in Sequencher.

4. 2014: I initiated a study on clonal vs. insect pollination of Y. aloifolia using AFLP markers.



Final stage of DNA extraction. Photo by K. Alice Wood Fox.

More photos in the Molecular Research Gallery


Althoff/Segraves Laboratories: Experimental Garden Research

Yucca pollination


A beautiful day for some garden work! Selfie by K. Alice Wood Fox.

2013 Experimental Garden Gallery I 
2013 Experimental Garden Gallery II 
2014 Experimental Garden Gallery

During the summer months, life at the Experimental Research Garden on Skytop Road is in full swing. The site is home to over 150 individuals of six different Yucca species. Click on each species link to see photos of individuals that flowered in 2013:

Y. constricta
Y. filamentosa
(two sites)
Y. glauca 
(three sites)
Y. pallida
Y. reverchonii
Y. rupicola


1. 2013-2014: I counted flowers, P. decipiens, T. yuccasella, and herbivorous insects daily for a host-plant use study (see publication 2).

2. 2013-2014: I collected and preserved flowers from all six Yucca species for future morphology study.

3. 2013: I photographed every individual that flowered in 2013 and created photo galleries for each species (see above).

4. 2014: I performed reciprocal crosses of three Yucca species for a hybridization study.

5. 2014: I conducted a portion of a scent study for the Raguso Laboratory at Cornell University. 

To see photos from some of these projects, click on the links to the galleries.



Althoff/Segraves Laboratories: Insect Research

Before coming to the Althoff/Segraves Laboratories, my experience with insects was very different. As a horticulturist, I was taught to seek and destroy insects such as aphids; today, I grow food for them! Now having worked with various species of aphids, A. ervi (their natural enemy); as well as with the Lepidopterans (P. decipiens, T. yuccasella), I have a greater appreciation for and fascination with insects.

Over the course of the past two years, I have been a part of the following research:

1. I reared Prodoxus decipiens, A. ervi, T. yuccasella and several different species of oat and pea aphid.

2. I conducted mating and behavioral trials with P. decipiens; behavioral trials with A. ervi.

3. I dissected and measured structures of 150+ male and female P. decipiens for morphology study. I also dissected and observed structures of T. yuccasella.

4. I photographed moth structures for standardization of dissection procedure, and generated a dissection guide for future dissectors.

5. I counted oviposition scars on Experimental Garden inflorescence stalks. I counted, extracted and preserved P. decipiens larvae for future studies.

6. I participated in night observations of P. decipiens and T. yuccasella.

To see photos from some of these projects, click on the links to the galleries.



Seeing insects in a new way. Photo by K. Alice Wood Fox.

More photos in the Insect Research Gallery


Althoff/Segraves Laboratories: Student Training/Supervision



Students learning to sow seeds. Photo by K. Segraves.

More photos in the Students Gallery

Over the past two years, I have trained five students (one graduate, three undergraduate, one high school) to successfully perform DNA extractions and generate MSATs through PCR. I have also taught some of our students how to plant seeds, and how to properly weed the plants at the Experimental Garden. Click on the link to the gallery to see them in action!


Althoff/Segraves Laboratories: Site Visits

In March 2014, The Althoff and Segraves lab groups traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to collect data and samples of three Yucca species. Over the course of the week, we measured 150+ Y. aloifolia, Y. gloriosa and Y. filamentosa found in various sites in the Outer Banks. Whole plant and leaf samples were also taken for greenhouse stock and genetic analysis. Click on the link to the gallery to see photos from our site visit.



Lab members descend upon Y. aloifolia for measurements and samples. Photo by K. Segraves.

More photos in the Site Visits Gallery


Scientific Publications

Bulkeley, K. Alice Wood.  2011. Examining Bud Origin in Saintpaulia Floral Chimeras: Increasing Axillary Bud Production Using Exogenous Cytokinins, And Effecting Histogenic Layer Separation Through Adventitious Bud Generation to Establish Periclinal Chimerism. http://newcatalog.library.cornell.edu/catalog/8270185

Althoff, D. M., Fox, K. A. and Frieden, T. (2014), The role of ecological availability and host plant characteristics in determining host use by the bogus yucca moth Prodoxus decipiens. Ecological Entomology, 39: 620–626. doi: 10.1111/een.12141. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/een.12141/abstract

Darwell, C. T., Fox, K. A. and Althoff, D. M. (2014), The roles of geography and founder effects in promoting host-associated differentiation in the generalist bogus yucca moth Prodoxus decipiens. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27: 2706–2718. doi: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jeb.12529/abstract

Our P. decipiens made the cover of TREE! Photo by K. Segraves.

Curriculum Vitae

Click here to view my Curriculum Vitae (PDF: v. 21 January 2016)


Recent Relevant Coursework

1. BIO326: Genetics. Spring 2015 (Belote); Syracuse University. Principles of inheritance, structure and synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins, basic enzymology, microbial genetics, recombinant DNA technology and introduction to genomics.

2. BIO345: Ecology and Evolution. Fall 2014 (Althoff/Fridley); Syracuse University. Survey of modern topics in ecology and evolutionary biology. Evolution, phylogenetics, animal behavior, population ecology, community ecology and ecosystems. Final grade: 95 (A)

3. Independent Study: The Analysis of Biological Data (2008; Whitlock and Schluter). Fall 2014. Weekly review and exercises with D. Althoff.


Research Music Videos

From time to time, I have become inspired by my research to make a music video on the subject. Click on the links below to see what has inspired me. Note: I can not sing, but I certainly have fun doing it anyway!

Master's Thesis
Experiment 1: Pinwheel Face
Experiment 2: Splitting Chimeral Plants

Althoff Laboratory Research
Can't Mate My Yucca Moths
Stabbed By a Yucca Plant

Fridley Laboratory Research
SLaGNet: The Movie

Frank Laboratory Research
999 Tin Balls of Grass

Whipps Laboratory Research
Hoppy (Fingerprint Bunnies)


Contact Me

K. Alice Wood Fox
Senior Research Support Specialist
Whipps Laboratory, 129 Illick Hall
SUNY-ESF, 1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210