Research in our lab focuses on one of the fundamental questions in developmental biology - how signaling transduction pathways control the gene regulatory networks that specify and pattern territories along these axes during early embryonic development. We are particularly interested in both the early regulatory mechanism(s) that activate the anterior neuroectoderm and the role of a Wnt signaling network we have identified that separates this territory from the epidermal ectoderm and the posterior endomesoderm along the anterior-posterior axis.

Research Questions:

  1. What is the early, broadly expressed regulatory mechanism that activates the anterior neuroectoderm gene regulatory network?
  2. How do the Wnt/β-catenin, Wnt/JNK and Fzl1/2/7-PKC signaling pathways interact at the extracellular, intracellular and transcriptional levels to pattern the early anterior-posterior axis?​
  3. Are the early regulatory factors necessary for activation of the ANE GRN and the components of the sea urchin anterior-posterior Wnt signaling network conserved in deuterostome embryos?​
  4. What are the evolutionary changes in the early GRN architecture of S. neumayeri that contribute to the adaptations that modify the timing of development in Antarctic cold-water animals?
PhD, Duke University, 2005
BA, University of Texas at Austin, 1997