Microbiology and Cell Biology Faculty Research
I study the regulation of G protein-coupled receptor signaling by endosomal sorting and lysosomal degradation in cancer and vascular cells. My lab uses advanced genomic editing, microscopy and tissue culture techniques to investigate the mechanisms and proteins that facilitate GPCR signaling as well as extracellular vesicle formation.
Research in my lab focuses on exploring the metabolic diversity of microbial processes and the applications we can derive from them. We utilize cross-disciplinary approaches incorporating microbiological, ecological, evolutionary, molecular and genomic techniques to 1) understand the contributions of plant microbiomes to the health of their plant host and 2) discover novel microbial processes for the sustainable production of biofuels and bioproducts from agricultural wastes.
I'm interested in the link between genetic variation and protein function from an evolutionary perspective. My research focuses on molecular and biochemical adaptations of marine invertebrates to environmental stress, including hypoxia and immune challenge. Our studies of bay scallops are focused on determining how genetic variation relates to biochemical and ultimately physiological differences in energy metabolism, including whether certain genetic variants confer greater survival during hypoxia or during burst swimming. In addition, we are interested in discovering mechanisms of innate immune defense in bivalve molluscs, which are susceptible numerous diseases. Finally, my lab collaborates with other Biology faculty on conservation and ecological genetics projects that use molecular markers to characterize genetic variation.
I am a neuroscientist whose research is exceptionally integrative and encompasses many disciplines, including microgenomics, molecular neurophysiology, endocrinology and behavior. I have investigated gene networks, neural networks, neurogenesis, and hormonal mechanisms associated with mate preference behavior in three popular model systems; songbirds, fish and frogs. I am particularly interested in measuring activity-dependent gene expression to examine neurophysiological responses. I have used these genes to answer questions on a variety of levels: from simply marking a neuron’s response to a stimulus, to co-localizing these genes with markers that identify cell phenotype, to employing catFISH (compartmental analysis of temporal florescent in situ hybridization) to increase the power of the immediate early gene approach to assess neural activity.
Broadly described, my research interests focus on the various pathways that bacteria use to sort proteins to their appropriate destinations. In particular, I am interested in the molecular mechanisms by which some proteins are delivered to and assembled within the bacterial outer membrane (OM) while others are secreted from the bacterial cell altogether. Since the OM acts as a barrier to toxic compounds, formation of this compartment is critically important for bacteria to survive in harsh environments like the human gut. Similarly, secreted proteins are often involved in establishing and maintaining bacterial infections inside animal hosts. I believe that a clearer understanding of these processes is critical for development of novel treatments to control bacterial infections.
For over 30 years, my research has focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms that control plant cell growth and development. Within that context, my current research focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms that control cotton fiber growth and development. Most of the textile properties of cotton fiber are directly affected by the biological processes that control cell elongation and wall synthesis. My lab uses a multi-faceted approach, employing ultrastructural analysis (both light and electron microscopy), pharmacological studies and physiological investigations. Through these analyses we will identify pivotal developmental mechanisms and "windows of opportunity" that can be modified in ways that will improve the textile properties of cotton fiber and increase the economic value of US grown cotton.
Faculty Research: All Biology Faculty