Student Spotlight: Ellen Wagner

Headshot Ellen WagnerHometown:

Cincinnati, OH

Year entered CMB program:



Audrey Gasch Lab


Brief Summary of Research:

I am studying how the enzyme Protein Kinase A is regulated and targeted to its substrates, and how this targeting controls metabolism, growth and stress using yeast as a model. I have a yeast strain that can ferment on the sugar xylose without growing on it, which is extremely unusual because typically growth and metabolism is coupled. I am studying how PKA regulation has changed to allow for this phenotype.

Awards and Publications:

NSF GRFP – 2017

Wagner ER, Myers KS, Riley NM, Coon JJ, Gasch AP (2019) PKA and HOG signaling contribute separable roles to anaerobic xylose fermentation in yeast engineered for biofuel production. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0212389.

Why did you decide to attend graduate school?

I decided to go to grad school because I really enjoy learning and being challenged. I wanted to do something where I am constantly learning, so I am very rarely bored. I like grad school because I am constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone to try new techniques to answer my questions.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I started dancing when I was 3 years old and continued until I graduated high school. When I’m the only one in lab, I can be found doing some tap steps while I’m waiting for things in the centrifuge.

When you are not in the lab, you are…….?

At a group fitness class (Zumba is the best!), riding my bike, or watching Netflix

What is your favorite memory so far in the CMB Program?

Retreat! It’s always so much fun to get together with everyone and have fun while talking science.

What is the most fun part of your research?

I love getting to look at my strains on the microscope. I don’t have a lot of microscopy in my project, so any excuse I have to jump on the microscope, I will. I love looking at the tiny yeast cells; they’re so cute!