My teaching interests integrate my interests in the processes of cellular differentiation, stem cells, and the functioning of the nervous system.
Molecules, Cells, and Genes (Biol 212) is required of all biology, environmental biology, and molecular biology concentrators and provides an in-depth introduction to eukaryotic cell function at the biochemical, macromolecular, and cellular levels. In lecture and lab, students are introduced to and asked to explore such topics as bioenergetics, enzyme kinetics, genes and regulation of gene expression, the cell cycle and the cytoskeleton, intracellular signaling and transport, and organelle structure and function. This class requires students to integrate their understanding of these seemingly diverse topics in order to explore basic cell function and to understand how different cells carry out different activities.
Biology of Stem Cells (Biol 327) is a seminar course, in which we tackle the ever changing field of stem cell biology. We examine the historical background of stem cell research (stretching back to the mid 1700s!) and the chain of events that brought us to the ethically fascinating and contentious position we are at today. Along the way, we explore what we actually know about adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, their features, their promise, and their problems. In lab, we explore both stem cells that are involved in regeneration, such that a planarian can be cut in half and a week later you have two fully functional planaria with normal anatomy, and stem cells in culture as we try to hold them undifferentiated and then bias their differentiation.
Molecular Neurobiology (Biol 389 and Neur 389) is an elective focused on understanding the molecular underpinnings of how the nervous system functions. We begin by looking at the nature of the channels that allow particular ions to move and allow the generation of electrical currents in the cells. The class then explores how neurons communicate with each other, looking at the synthesis, release, and reactions of neurotransmitters. We then examine sensory systems as particular examples where molecular receptors have evolved to detect and process information from the physical world around us into the electrochemical code of the brain. At the end of the class, we turn to neural development, looking at the molecules that define, connect, and maintain neurons, and tease out how neural activity leads to changes in neural structure.
I also regularly teach in our Developmental Biology (Biol 324) course.
I offer a research tutorial which allows students to get hands-on experience designing independent research projects in developmental neurobiology.
Throughout my teaching, I focus on conceptual learning, bringing recently published papers from the primary literature so that we can focus on how science is done and where science is going. The biology faculty at Colgate have also made a strong emphasis on writing, working to give students the skills they need to effectively communicate the biology of today and tomorrow. I hope to provide my students the skills to interpret, critically analyze, and then explore the open questions provided by the rapidly evolving biological research fields.
BA, Williams College, 1997; PhD, University of Virginia, 2004
Lecturer, University of Michigan, 2005
Developmental biology, neurobiology, cell biology, sensory biology, stem cells
Mechanisms that control development and regeneration of sensory systems; the role of stem cells in neural development and regeneration. Teaching interests include neurobiology, developmental biology, cellular biology, molecular biology
Co-authored the following:
- "β-catenin/Wnt signaling controls progenitor fate in the developing and regenerating zebrafish retina" (Neural Development, 7: 30). [Publication]
- "Variations in shape-sensitive restriction points mirror differences in the regeneration capacities of avian and Mammalian ears"( PloS one, 6: e23861) [Publication]
- "Axon cap morphology of the sea robin (Prionotus carolinus): mauthner cell is correlated with the presence of “signature” field potentials and a C-Type startle response" (The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 519: 1979-98) [Publication]
- "Hair cell regeneration," (New Encyclopedia of Neuroscience), edited by: Larry Squire, Elsevier Press.
- "Morphological correlates of regeneration in the inner ear," (Springer Handbook of Auditory Research: Hair Cell Regeneration, Repair and Protection)
- "Late-Stage Neuronal Progenitors in the Retina Are Radial Müller Glia That Function as Retinal Stem Cells," (J. Neurosci. 27: 7028-7040, 2007) [Publication]
- "Shape change controls supporting cell proliferation in lesioned mammalian balance epithelium," (J. Neurosci. 27: 4313-4325, 2007) [Publication]
- "Genetic dissection of the zebrafish retinal stem cell compartment," (Developmental Biology: 281: 53-65) [Publication]
- "Lighting up the senses: Permeation of FM 1-43 through non-selective cation channels in primary sensory neurons," (J. Neurosci. 23: 4054-4065, 2003) [Publication]
- "Survival of bundle-less hair cells and subsequent bundle replacement in the Bullfrog's saccule," (J. Neurobiol., 50: 81-92, 2002) [Publication]
- "Solitary hair cells are distributed throughout the extramacular epithelium in the bullfrog's saccule," (JARO, 1: 172-182, 2000) [Publication]
- "Comparison of Fast Startle Responses between two Elongate, Bony Fish with an Anguilliform Type of Locomotion and the Implications for the Underlying Neuronal Basis of Escape Behavior," (Brain Behavior and Evolution, 52: 7-22, 1998)
Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Michigan, 2004-2007