Research/Areas of Interest: Cellular and molecular biology — how our gene expression affects cell and organismal physiology and development

Education

  • PhD, Cell Biology, Duke University, Durham, United States, 2016
  • BS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, United States, 2010

Biography

In graduate school, I investigated how proteins that regulate actin branching and growth affect neurodevelopment in mice through in vivo imaging and behavioral studies and neuron cultures. I found that defects in actin branching negatively affect neuronal outgrowth and synapse formation in the cerebellum Purkinje cells, leading to motor learning abnormalities. I also investigated the use of fluorescent reporter compounds in the identification and characterization of malignant breast cancer cells and their metabolism. Hsp90, a canonically intracellular molecular chaperone, gets secreted and re-endocytosed in malignant breast cancer cells, making it an ideal target for binding with non-cell permeable compounds that can then accumulate in malignant cells without affecting physiologically normal cells.

During my postdoctoral training, I studied how astrocytes and neurons communicate to promote sleep and circadian rhythms in Drosophila melanogaster. I used the vast genetic resources available to Drosophila researchers to investigate signaling pathways important for night sleep and rebound after sleep deprivation. In addition, as a TEACRS (Training in Education and Critical Research Skills) scholar, I took a particular interest in mentoring undergraduate students and student volunteers in the lab with an emphasis on developing the critical thinking and organization skills necessary to be a successful scientist.