I received my Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University in 2009, where I worked with Dr. Ken Moberg in the Department of Cell Biology. I completed my postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Todd Schlenke in the Department of Biology, Emory University. I have previously been an assistant professor at the University of Warwick in the UK and Illinois State University before moving to Oregon State University in 2022.
Our research is focused on understanding signal transduction pathways, which enable cells to respond to stimuli through changes to the cells’ physiological or biochemical state. These signaling pathways play important roles in organismal development, tissue growth and homeostasis, neurological function, and the immune response to pathogen infection. Signal transduction pathways are tightly regulated, with cells employing both positive and negative regulators which act to fine tune the duration and strength of the signaling event. Deregulated cell signaling is linked to defects in cell function and ultimately contributes to the pathogenesis of many diseases.
In the Venom Biochemistry & Molecular Biology lab we use the Drosophila-parasitoid wasp system. In this system, parasitoids transfer venom proteins into their Drosophila hosts during infection in order to manipulate host signaling. We find that venom proteins target conserved signal transduction pathways, and so by characterizing the molecular interactions between host and parasite, we hope to better understand pathway regulation and identify novel signaling regulators among parasitoid venoms.
Projects in the lab include:
- Regulation of host signaling by parasitoid venom proteins
- Immune metabolism and parasite mediated metabolic changes
- Role of innate immunity and inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis
- Molecular genetics of Drosophila melanogaster cellular immunity
- Role of innate immune receptors in self-tolerance and autoimmunity
Teaching & Outreach
I am a project leader for Genomics Education Partnership, a nationwide collaboration that develops curriculum and research questions to enable course-based undergraduate research experiences at a variety of institutions. I lead the Parasitoid Wasp Genomics project which complements the research performed in the Venom Biochemistry & Molecular Biology lab. This project has been implemented at more than 30 colleges and universities around the USA, and engaged more than 300 students in authentic research experiences.
Ph.D., Genetics and Molecular Biology, Emory University