Kaitlyn was born and raised in Bloomington, Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota for her undergraduate. It was there where her passion for plant pathology began while working as an undergraduate researcher doing lab-based research. From there, she continued her education at the University of Idaho focusing on plant pathology and applied field research. Her research focused on identifying the dominant species of Fusarium associated with Fusarium head blight in southeastern Idaho and assisting in the implementation of extension activities related to small grains cereals pathology. After completing her Masters, she moved to the University of Illinois where she continued doing applied research to determine how Fusarium head blight management techniques impact the accumulation of Fusarium-associated mycotoxins in wheat straw.
She completed her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in the summer of 2016 and began working as an Extension and Outreach Post-Doc and work with seed treatments for the management of soybean cyst nematode under the direction of Dr. Greg Tylka at Iowa State University. In October of 2017, she moved to the University of Missouri to begin her work as an Assistant Professor of Extension in field crops plant pathology.