- Area of Study Cell and Molecular Biology
Throughout my scientific career I have been interested in how complex biological systems emerge from fundamental principles and mechanisms. I am currently pursuing this interest as a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Trevor Siggers. Our lab studies the innate immune system and inflammation from a systems biology perspective. We use high-throughput techniques, like Protein Binding Microarrays, to elucidate how protein complexes and protein-DNA interactions generate the regulatory logic responsible for signal-dependent gene expression in vital immune responses. With a biochemical model of cellular signal integration at the DNA level, we hope to better understand inflammatory dysregulation and the impact of human genetic variation (SNPs) on disease.
I began my undergraduate career at the University of Washington (UW, “U-Dub”) in Seattle, WA where I received bachelors of science degrees in biology and psychology. My academic career has been one of iterative refinement of my interests, which has exposed me to a broad range of subjects. I started at the UW thinking that I would go into computer science, but found I was far more intrigued by how human brains worked than writing code. After volunteering in a cognitive linguistics lab for a year, I realized that I needed to pursue biology to reach the level of explanatory power I was searching for.
I really found my passion for research during an Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL). Our laboratory studied the evolutionary origins of nervous systems by looking at gene expression and neurotransmitters in basal organisms like ctenophores and hemichordates. I returned to FHL many times to continue the research I started under the guidance of Dr. Leonid Moroz (University of Florida) and Dr. Billie Swalla (University of Washington). My time at FHL ignited my interest in molecular biology and cemented my decision to pursue graduate school. I chose Boston University because of the people and environment. After interview weekend I knew that I had found an institution with exciting research opportunities and a high quality of life.