Educational & Professional Experience
2013 - PhD - University of Colorado at Boulder
2005 - BS - Millersville University of Pennsylvania
2018 - present Assistant professor
2013-2018 Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Chad Pearson - University of Colorado School of Medicine
2007-2013 Graduate student with Dr. Kevin Jones - University of Colorado at Boulder
2005-2007 Research technician with Dr. Narayan Avadhani - University of Pennsylvania
Cilia are evolutionarily ancient, hair-like projections that process extracellular information. Algae use undulating cilia to swim through and to sample aqueous environments. Protists coordinate hundreds of cilia in a wave-like motion while relaying chemical information to the cell interior. Nematodes sniff around soil using cilia that sprout from sensory neurons. In fact, cilia are so good at cellular-scale sensation that they have persisted for billions of years!
Our brain ventricles are lined with cilia that both survey and circulate cerebrospinal fluid. Our retinas are lined with photoreceptor cilia that convert photons into a rainbow of colors. Our noses are lined with olfactory cilia that turn odors (like the glorious smell of freshly ground coffee) into action potentials. Nearly ever other cell in our body also has cilia. These solitary cilia, called primary cilia, protrude from the cell surface like antennae to relay signals that establish and maintain our tissues. However, regardless of the context, cilia would be unable to process any of this information without a complex network of intracellular trafficking pathways that support cilia function.
The goal of our lab is to understand the rules and patterns that define these intracellular trafficking pathways. Much like traffic cameras and GPS illuminate vehicular traffic patterns, we aim to create a spatial map of protein movement to and from cilia. To do this, we combine high-resolution microscopy with digital image analysis to detect and quantify ciliary protein trafficking in space and over time.