Research/Areas of Interest:
Cellular and molecular biology — how our gene expression affects cell and organismal physiology and development
PhD, Cell Biology, Duke University, Durham, United States, 2016
BS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, United States, 2010
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.