User:Kelsey Crossen

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Kelsey Crossen

Contact Info

Kelsey at the Joint Genome Institute for the Microbial Genomics and Metagenomics Workshop (September 2016)


Ginny Rich & Kelsey Crossen, OSU Commencement, Dec. 2017
Katie Nelson & Kelsey Crossen, Missouri S&T Graduation, May 2015
  • M.S. Microbiology, The Ohio State University. Thesis: "Investigation of Microbial Community Structure and Functional Groups from Thawing Permafrost Peat Incubations"
  • B.S. Biological Sciences, magna cum laude, minors in Chemistry and Psychology, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Research Interests

  1. Microbial ecology
  2. Role of microbes in climatically important carbon transformations
  3. Permafrost thaw and resulting climate feedbacks

Research Experience

Graduate Work

As a Master's student turned temporary Research Assistant, I contributed to two in-prep manuscripts. The goal of the research project was to investigate spatial and temporal changes in the microbial community compositions from incubation samples spanning a permafrost thaw gradient. This work was done using 16S-based microbial community profiling and selected metagenomes. These results were integrated with geochemistry results from Dr. Rachel Wilson, a research scientist from Dr. Jeff Chanton's lab at Florida State University.

Along with Nicole, I co-led a team of undergraduate researchers - Greg Zane, Josh Kolengowski and Isabel Morales. I have mentored these students in analyzing 16S-based community data from two different incubation experiments, with emphasis on particular lineages and hypotheses about their differential relative abundances.

Undergraduate Work

  • Missouri S&T International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team: I was a member of Missouri S&T's iGEM chapter, a synthetic biology design team, for three years (2012-2015) and served several roles on our team: lab worker, lab instructor, and secretary. I primarily worked on our 2014 project, "Clearing the Air: Nitrogen Oxide Fixation for the Remediation of Coal Flue Gases." The goal of this project was to create BioBrick parts involved in nitrogen oxide fixation and use them to genetically engineer cyanobacteria to turn harmful nitrogen oxides from coal emissions into ammonia, which could be harvested for use in fertilizer. Cyanobacteria also naturally fix CO2, another pollutant in coal emissions. Our team submitted one new BioBrick part for this project, the hmp gene, which converts nitric oxide to nitrate. Our team earned a bronze medal for this project at the 2014 Giant Jamboree in Boston, MA. I was also team secretary for 2014, during which I was responsible for tracking team attendance, keeping records of team meetings, and running the Communications and Publications committee. I led the committee to complete several projects, including writing letters to potential corporate sponsors, revising the team's constitution and bylaws, and writing content for the team's website and project Wiki page.
  • Amgen Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis: I worked in the Strassmann-Queller Lab during summer 2014, which studies Dictyostelium discoideum, a social amoeba that goes through unicellular and multicellular stages during its life cycle. My research, which was done with postdoctoral researcher Dr. Susanne DiSalvo, focused on symbiosis between D. discoideum and bacteria; in particular, to determine how the "farmer" trait is conferred. Farmers are D. discoideum clones that carry edible bacteria with them during their social multicellular stage, which can give those spores an advantage when they are dispersed. It was hypothesized that the farmer trait is conferred by farmer-associated bacteria (separate from the edible bacteria) rather than the genotype of D. discoideum. To test this hypothesis, many different clone/bacteria combinations were grown and the sori of the fruiting bodies were spot tested, which told us whether or not bacteria were present in the sorus. The data suggested that the trait was in fact bacterially conferred, since non-farmers were able to pick up the farmer trait when grown with farmer-associated bacteria, but not other bacteria. We also looked at whether associating with bacteria, in particular three farmer-associated Burkholderia species, came at a cost to D. discoideum. We did spore counts when these species were grown with farmer and non-farmer clones and had variable results in that spore production could be positively or negatively affected by the bacterial association.
  • Missouri S&T Cytokinesis Lab: I worked in this lab advised by Dr. Katie Shannon and was financially supported by the university's Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience program for my junior and senior years. The lab uses budding yeast as a model eukaryotic organism to study cytokinesis, the final step in cell division. In budding yeast, IQG1 is a scaffolding protein that is required for formation and contraction of the actin ring during cytokinesis. IQG1 contains four domains: the N-terminus calponin homology domain (CHD), IQ motifs, GAP-related domain, and Ras GAP C-terminus (RGCt) domain. My original project was to determine how the mutation of four conserved phosphorylation sites in the CHD domain would affect actin binding. However, during this project there were technical difficulties that could not be overcome, so we switched to focusing on the RGCt domain to determine its function. Deletion of the RGCt domain is lethal to yeast cells, but this domain does not appear to have the same function in yeast as in human cells; we wanted to determine its binding partners in yeast.

Research Presentations

  • “Investigation of Microbial Communities Spanning a Permafrost Thaw Gradient,” seminar at OSU Department of Microbiology, Columbus, OH, 2017
  • Crossen, K.B., Wilson, R.M., Raab, N.M., Li, Y.F., Chanton, J.P., and Rich, V.I., “Connecting Microbial Communities with Geochemistry Across a Permafrost Thaw Gradient,” poster presented at Joint Genome Institute’s MGM Workshop, Walnut Creek, CA, 2016
  • Crossen, K.B. & Shannon, K.B. “Determining the Function of the RGCt Domain of IQG1 in Budding Yeast,” poster presented at Missouri S&T Undergraduate Research Conference, Rolla, MO, 2015
  • Abele, A., Ferriere, B., Palmer, L., Crossen, K.B., Buckowing, K.K., et al., “Clearing the Air: Nitrogen Oxide Fixation for the Remediation of Coal Flue Gases,” poster presented at Undergraduate Research Day at the Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO, 2015
  • Crossen, K.B., DiSalvo, S., Queller, D.C., Strassmann, J.E., “The Seed Sows the Farmer: Dictyostelium-Bacteria Interactions,” WUSTL Amgen Scholars Poster Session, St. Louis, MO, 2014
  • Crossen, K.B. & Shannon, K.B., “Do mutations that affect IQG1 phosphorylation change the dynamics of an actin ring probe?” poster presented at Midwest Yeast Meeting at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2013

Teaching Experience

  • Graduate Teaching Associate for the laboratory component of Microbiology 4000 (Basic and Practical Microbiology) at OSU. Over three semesters, I have taught ~300 students and I deliver weekly lectures on laboratory objectives and general microbiology concepts, assist students with performing microbiological lab techniques, and grade assignments and laboratory reports.
  • Lab Instructor for the Missouri S&T iGEM team's Lab Training Program (Aug 2014-May 2015). The LTP is a student-developed program consisting of online lessons and quizzes about molecular biology techniques, workshops, and a "mini project" for trainees to practice lab techniques and insert a GFP gene into E. coli. As an instructor, I answered question about lessons as needed, did technique demonstrations at in-lab workshops, and supervised as trainees completed their mini project.

Volunteer Work

  • iGEM Mentor: In summer 2016, I volunteered to be an iGEM team mentor and was paired with a new high school team from City of London School. As a mentor I have shared some of my experiences from the Missouri S&T iGEM team and assisted as needed with questions regarding lab protocols, fundraising, and the iGEM competition.
  • Event Judge for Missouri State Science Olympiad Tournament: In April 2015, I volunteered as the event judge for Division C (high school) Forensics event. This involved writing and scoring the exam, and setting up lab stations for students to analyze "evidence" and complete the exam.

Honors & Awards

Receiving outstanding graduating senior award from S&T Biological Sciences. Pictured: research advisor Dr. Katie Shannon, fellow Buckeye Dr. Ron Frank, Kelsey, Dr. Chen Hou, and Dr. David Westenberg
  • OSU Microbiology Elizabeth M. Mote Memorial Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching
  • OSU Distinguished University Fellowship
  • Missouri S&T Biological Sciences Department Outstanding Graduating Senior Award
  • Missouri S&T Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honors Fraternity
  • Missouri S&T Phi Eta Sigma Honors Fraternity


  • OSU Students for the Advancement of Microbiology
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • United States Permafrost Association
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • American Geophysical Union