Previous Institution: Muhlenberg College
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biology (and German Studies) from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, along with a lot of research experience. Over the course of 2.5 years in Bruce Wightman’s lab I had the joy of studying the worm from “tip to tip”- everything from oxygen-sensing neurons in the nose to the spicules of the male tail, and a lot of things in between. The most substantial body of my work focused on the nuclear hormone receptor fax-1, and demonstrating its roles in cell specification and identity maintenance in both interneurons and the migratory distal tip cells, leader cells in gonadogenesis. I was able to show that specification of these seemingly diverse cell types requires a common transcription factor, and simultaneously analyze how the genetic pathways differ between the two cell types. Beyond the genetic level, this work also allowed me to investigate the effects of disrupting neuron specification on the animal as a whole, and propose a neural circuit responsible for initiation of larval development in C. elegans. I greatly enjoyed studying the genetic control of cell specification, especially in relation to nervous system and how this affects animal development.
If I’m not in the lab, I’m probably running, swimming, or showering, all sources of some of my best scientific thinking and ideas.