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.
I study questions of cell fate, with cell death being one of those possible fates. I am researching the role of PINK-1, a mitochondrial kinase, in apoptosis, as pink-1 mutants show a decrease in programmed cell death. I am also studying endoderm cell fate by examining the factors necessary to reprogram an already differentiated cell into a morphological gut cell and by examining possible connections between stress response and endoderm development.
I’m interested in understanding how environmental stress is translated into epigenetic information which can potentially be transmitted transgenerationally and regulate developmental plasticity. I’m also investigating variation in behavioral responses exists among C. elegans wild isolates.
I primarily work with Ethan on a collaborative project with the Briggs Lab studying the interactions between a fungus known as Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis and C. Elegans, examining the effect of the fungus on nematode viability, fertility, and other phenomena.
I study different mutant strains of C elegans and determine what mutations on different chromosomes could stop transorganogenesis in those worms.