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Past Lab Members

Ufuk Caglar (Masters Student 2021-2023)

Ufuk grew up in Antalya, Turkey. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering at Selcuk University in Konya. In his bachelor’s degree, he was working on vegetable breeding, such as pepper, tomatoes, and pumpkins. He worked for Republic of Turkiye Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Alata Horticultural Research Institute as an internship. He went to University of Delaware to take an English course with the support of Turkish Government. While completing his work, he was awarded by being an honor student. He achieved his Master’s degree at Clemson University in Plant and Environmental Sciences. Ufuk enjoys kayaking, hiking and hanging around with friends in his spare time.

Alejandro Calle (Postdoctoral Research Associate (2021-2023)

Alejandro is originally from Magacela, Spain. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering at University of Extremadura in 2013. After graduating, Alejandro earned a Master’s degree in Food Quality and he began working as lab technician at Department of Animal Production and Food Quality of University of Extremadura. In 2015, Alejandro started his Ph.D. in CITA – University of Zaragoza, where research focused mainly on the genetics of relevant phenology related and fruit quality traits of sweet cherry, earning his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in Fall 2019. He joined the Gasic Lab as a postdoctoral research associate in 2021 where he worked in the Armillaria Root Rot USDA grant. He also enjoys any outdoor activities especially mountain biking and hiking.

Alex Frangiosa (Student Worker 2016-2018)

Alex Frangiosa grew up in Philadelphia, PA and applied to Clemson for the Wildlife department. She is currently a Wildlife and Fisheries Biology major with a minor in Forest Resource Management, hoping to graduate in May 2018. After graduating she plans to attend veterinary school before becoming a wildlife veterinarian. Her wildlife biology classes emphasized plant and ecosystem studies, giving her a passion for plants. She has conducted invasive plant research with Dr. Don Hagan in the past, creating an interest in invasive plants. Alex joined the Gasic Lab to continue working on plant research (she also loves peaches, so this is a perfect fit!).

Mark Jasinski (Masters Student 2016-2019)

Mark Jasinski is originally from Traverse City, Michigan. Always interested in science, he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014. As an undergraduate, Mark worked on symbiotic relationships between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and rice crops. After graduation, he began working at a research farm in Deforest, WI to continue his experience in the agriculture industry. Mark was accepted into the Gasic program in 2016 to pursue his Master’s degree in Plant and Environmental Sciences. His research focuses on the biosynthesis of carotenoids and their effect on commercial peaches, along with the development of functional allele markers to aid in the breeding process. In his free time, Mark enjoys playing basketball and golf, is an avid reader and writer, and is entertained by tracking statistics on sports and other interests.

Sarah Miller (Postdoctoral Research Associate 2018-2019)

Sarah Miller completed her undergraduate degree in Secondary Science Education from Colorado State University in 2009 and went on to teach high school sciences in Greenville County School District for several years. Sarah then attended graduate school at Colorado State University where she researched morphological, physiological and biochemical responses of sorghum to drought stress and completed her Ph.D. in Bioagricultural Sciences in 2018. She joined the Gasic Lab as a postdoctoral research associate in 2018 where she is currently involved in developing short and long-term solutions to reduce the effects of Armillaria Root Rot, a soil-borne fungal root disease that is a primary cause of premature peach tree decline in South Carolina. In her free time, Sarah works on her own farm where she enjoys homesteading and horseback riding.

Jonathan Windham (Masters Student 2016-2018)

Jonathan Windham is from the small town of Lamar, SC.  He earned his undergraduate degree in Horticulture from Clemson University in 2013.  Jonathan’s experience in the Gasic lab began in May of 2012 when he was hired as an intern and continued until graduation.  In August of 2015, Jonathan was hired at the Clemson University Pee Dee Research and Education Center (REC) in Florence, SC.  He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the Plant and Environmental Sciences graduate program at Clemson University under Dr. Ksenija Gasic.  In his free time, Jonathan breeds roses and is the curator of the Clemson University Rose Repository housed at the Pee Dee REC.

Gizem Demirel (Masters Student 2019-2021)

Gizem Demirel is from Turkey. She graduated from Ondokuz Mayis University at Department of Horticulture in Turkey. After her undergraduate studies she kept in contact with her professors and she carried out more research and projects with many fruit species. These studies and her experiences showed her the necessity of education on fruit breeding and motivated her to continue to a Masters education in the United States. With this purpose, Gizem received a scholarship given by Ministry of National Education in Turkey to do Master’s in the United States. After finishing Master’s, Gizem is going to work for Ministry of Agriculture in Turkey. She started her Master education on August 2019 in the Plant and Environmental Science at Clemson University under Dr. Gasic.

Omer Atagul (Masters Student 2020-2022)

Omer Atagul was born in Turkey on Oct 29, 1992. He graduated from Kahramanmaras Sutcu Imam University Department of Horticulture in 2016. After graduation, he worked as an agricultural engineer in a private company, while keeping in contact with his professors at the university. He encountered an opportunity for a scholarship program supported by the Ministry of National Education of Turkey. He always dreamed of studying abroad when he was a kid, and this scholarship opened the door for a master’s degree in the United States of America, focusing on plant breeding. He started working under Dr. Gasic’s peach breeding program in the spring of 2020. He is currently working towards his master’s degree in Plant and Environmental Sciences studying QTLs mapping on heat requirements related to bloom time. After Clemson, he will return to Turkey and will work on behalf of TAGEM as a plant engineer. In addition to his work life, he is happily married and has a beautiful son. He loves spending time with his family, playing clarinet, reading historical documentaries. His favorite hobbies include hiking and cooking for friends and family.

Eva Marquez (Student 2021-2022)

Eva Marquez grew up in Hanahan, SC. She is currently working on a BS in Microbiology at Clemson University. She started working for Dr. Gasic’s peach breeding program in the fall of 2021. Eva enjoys learning new things, being outdoors, and playing the ukulele.

Jake Taylor (Masters Student 2021)

Jake Taylor grew up in the small town of Arroyo Grande, CA. After graduating high school, Jake spent two years in the Lisbon metro area in Portugal doing service work with his church. Once that was finished, he got his Bachelor’s degree in Genetics and Biotechnology from BYU. While there, Jake worked in the Orphaned Crops Lab under Dr. Rick Jellen. He worked with quinoa strains which had hybridized with wild goosefoot in an effort to identify potentially useful traits for an international breeding effort. He traveled across the western states and Morocco planting field trials and collecting seed samples. As of August 2021, Jake is a Master’s student working under the Armillaria root rot grant and will likely stay for his PhD after defending his Master’s thesis. He is crazy about plants and loves spending time outdoors. He also has a growing collection of synthesizer keyboards which he enjoys playing.

Wanfang Fu (Ph.D. Student 2015-2022)

Wanfang Fu is from China. She finished her undergraduate study in Central South University of Forestry and Technology in Changsha, China, and earned her Bachelor of Forestry. In her undergraduate study, she mainly focused on the non-timber forest, which gave her an interest on fruit tree breeding. She followed Dr. Gasic in Clemson University to pursue a Master of Science (thesis) degree in Plant and Environmental Sciences. In her current study, she is working on disease resistance breeding for peaches on brown rot and bacterial spot. Wanfang enjoys her time both in the lab and farm. In her spare time, she likes going to the gym and watching movies.