P.A. (Paula) Gomez Zapata



I am a researcher in Plant Pathology with an interest in fungal diseases of plants. I am passionate about exploring biological control strategies and employing bioinformatic tools to control fungal pathogens.

I studied BSE in Agronomic Engineering at Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL) with a major in Phytopathology. While I was an undergraduate student, I did an internship for six months at Purdue University in the United States at the Arthur Fungarium, screening rust specimens for the presence of natural enemies of rust fungi. After finishing my undergraduate studies, I carried out a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at Purdue University, which was focused on the characterization of the natural enemies of rust fungi by studying their species diversity, host-specificity for rust fungi, biogeography, and interaction events between these natural enemies and rusts. These projects led me to gain skills and experience in fieldwork, bioinformatics, phylogenetic analyses, genome assemblies, rust species identification, fungal cultures, biotrophic fungi, GFP fungal transformation, and molecular biology techniques, such as DNA extraction, PCR, primers design, and experience in troubleshooting these techniques. I also gained experience teaching biology courses to undergraduate students and training them in research.

I worked as a postdoctoral researcher for a period of eight months at Purdue University on the NSF project: PurSUiT Microfungi. This project aims to study obligate microfungi that are parasites of plants and animals from tropical ecosystems whose diversity and records are almost completely unknown. My role in the project focused on studying the diversity of rust fungi. This project let me gain new skills in analyzing data from multiplexed next-generation sequencing and identification of rust species through morphological features and molecular data. 

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in the Department of Forestry Mycology and Plant Pathology and guest researcher at Utrecht University (UU) in the microbial genome evolution team. The project I am working on investigate the genomic features that drive the switch between the heteroecious and autoecious forms in Cronartium pini, as a model system for the evolution of rust fungi. This project will let me gain new skills in fungal population genomics.

I enjoy collaborations, learning, and continuing to develop new skills.

Feel free to contact me.