Evolutionary and Quantitative Genetics
Regulation of development and differentiation; regulation of programmed cell death and cell division; mechanisms of tumorigenesis
For my thesis, I am investigating C. elegans graviperception using genetic tools and behavioral analysis. C. elegans is a fascinating model organism in neuroscience research because it uses only 302 neurons to perform a number of complex tasks. I am interested in how these networks develop consistently across individuals and the mechanisms they use to convey information such as the direction of gravity.
The small roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans has a relatively short wild type lifespan (about 18-20 days) and an easily manipulated genome which has made it an attractive subject for longevity screening over the past four decades. These longevity screens, however, are limited in scale. I am working with Dr. Rothman and Dr. Joshi to develop a new method for longevity screening that is conducive to scalability and compatibility with other model organisms. This new methodology has the potential to identify mutants with maximum lifespans magnitudes greater than their wild type counterparts.
My research focus is in Tardigrades, a close relative of nematodes and other arthropods. They are known for their ability to turn themselves into a tun state of extreme dehydration in a water-lacking environment. I am currently working with and directed by Dr. Kirk on creating transgenic Tardigrades that transcribe GFP, which enables better observation of these organisms' rehydration when they get sent to space in the future.