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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
December 7, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Mark Welsh

Mark Welsh


         Phone: 519-884-0710 ext.2887

Growing up on a family farm in rural Ontario, an interest in nature was unavoidable. However, it wasn’t until OAC, when a charismatic biology teacher introduced us to the importance of the Human Genome Project, that I realized this interest could be followed as a viable life’s path. Although school has definitely become a big part of me as an individual, I still like to relax now and then with sports like skiing, mountain biking, or even motorcycle racing. As far as the work goes…recently, a major taxonomic reorganization has commenced within the genus Cuscuta, and a molecular phylogeny has been constructed for the largest infageneric taxon - the subgenus Grammica. While many of the species proposed by the monographer of the genus, Truman Yuncker in 1932 seem to be monophyletic entities, most of the supra-specific groups he proposed have proved out to be artificial groups.


Working towards a M.Sc. in Integrative Biology, I will be studying character evolution within this intriguing group of parasitic plants using this newly inferred phylogeny as a base. Incorporating an array of techniques and approaches, my thesis will include molecular, genetic, anatomical, and morphological characters in an attempt not only to address evolutionary questions that have arisen within the genus, but as a byproduct add to the scientific understanding of plant evolution as a whole. My work involves sweating in lab and in the field wherever these plants grow, for example in Jalisco, Michoacan, Colima and the surrounding Mexican states. But since Cuscuta is a cosmopolitan genus, and the collection of fresh material from all corners of the globe is infeasible, studies of this nature also largely depend on the availability of dried herbarium material in addition to the time and effort of curators worldwide.  I would like to thank all those involved in my studies.