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Genetics and Genomics

Using structure and uncertainty to empower students

Students arrive in our classroom from a wide range of backgrounds; there is therefore very little that we can assume of our students’ prior experiences. How best can we draw students in and then meet them where they are at? Teaching is arguably about equity and inclusion, as a practice. My approach starts by first asking students to extend grace and kindness to themselves and to others – from there, I use student-centered learning and evidence-based practices to promote equity across the biology curriculum, regardless of class size.

Can cells walk & chew gum at the same time? Understanding how cells build tubes that fold and still function.

The study of cell shape has taught us many lessons about cellular function; however, we are just beginning to understand how this basic attribute drives form and function at the level of multicellular tissues. The goal of my research program is to uncover the emergent properties that cells use to generate and maintain higher-order tissue structures.

Retracing the evolutionary steps towards symbiosis

The biosphere is a network of interacting species that connects organisms across all scales, from microbes to mammals. Knowledge of the mechanisms underlying these relationships, and the evolutionary forces that shape them, is fragmentary. My lab has pioneered the study of rove beetles (Staphylinidae) as a model clade to break open basic problems in organismal interactions. Most of the >66,000 known rove beetle species are free-living predators, found in leaf litter and soil habitats spanning the globe.

Cellular Signaling in the Regulation of Giardia Cyst Formation

Many eukaryotes, pathogenic and free-living alike, encyst during their life cycle. How these various organisms sense their environment to determine when and where to differentiate is largely unknown. Our recent work on the intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia has demonstrated that intestinal bile and elevated pH deplete cholesterol rich lipid rafts from the parasite plasma membrane which upregulates cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) production and initiates encystation. I will present our recent work on the regulation of encystation in Giardia.

Why are there more of some types of species than others?

Biodiversity is uneven both across geographic regions and branches of the tree of life. In this talk, I will explore one possible cause for this pattern: variation in the rate at which new species form. Using a data set from lizards and snakes, I will discuss the possible factors influencing speciation rate variation.

Note: this talk was not recorded at the request of the speaker.

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