Gayle Volk (B.S. Agricultural Sciences, 1991) is a Plant Physiologist at the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation (NLGRP) in Fort Collins, CO. Her research program focuses on developing effective methods to conserve clonally propagated crops within gene banks. A few of her current crops of interest include apples, pears, grapes, citrus, peaches, date palms, and cherries.
As an undergraduate at CSU (1988-1991), Gayle worked in Dr. Harrison Hughes’ laboratory, where she learned a number of tissue culture and molecular biology techniques. She then pursued a Master’s in Horticulture at Purdue University and continued her education at Cornell University, where she researched phloem transport in cucurbits and received a Ph.D. in 1998. After a post-doc in Plant Cell Biology at Washington State University, she accepted a position at the NLGRP (formerly the National Seed Storage Laboratory). Gayle uses multi-disciplinary approaches including tissue culture, molecular biology, genetics, cryobiology, and cell biology to develop improved conservation strategies for horticultural crops. Methods developed by Gayle and her staff have been implemented to cryopreserve the USDA citrus and garlic collections. She is the chair of the U.S. Apple Crop Germplasm Committee and is co-coordinating a Global Conservation Strategy for apple. Recently, she performed a plant exploration in Romania and Austria to collect wild European apple and pear species for conservation in the NPGS. She collaborates with and has hosted visiting scientists and students from all over the world.
Gayle enjoys photography, hiking, backpacking, and travel of all sorts. She has two children, ages 15 and 17, with CSU HLA alumni John Ray (1989), who passed away in 2011.
Gayle is delighted to be an Affiliate Faculty Member in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.