Originally from the wine country in Northern California, I moved to Southern California in 1997 to attend UCLA. I received my B.S. in biology from UCLA in December of 2001. After I graduated I worked with J. Patrick Johnson at Cedars Sinai for a year and a half and then took a big leap and moved across the U.S. to attend graduate school at Georgetown University. I began graduate school in August of 2003 and quickly joined the lab of Elena Casey in the Department of Biology. I was in the Casey lab for five and a half years studying early neural development in the African claw-toed frog, Xenopus laevis. I received by PhD from Georgetown in 2009 and moved to my current position at the California Institute of Technology in January of 2010. I was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Marianne Bronner in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech from 2010-2015. Currently, I am an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at California State University, Northridge.
I study the molecular mechanisms that drive neural crest cell development in chicken (Gallus gallus) and axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) embryos. More specifically, I am interested in identifying and characterizing genes and proteins involved in the specification of these tissues as well as those controlling the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process that occurs naturally during development and also during cancer transformation. Eventually, I hope to identify new proteins, and new roles for established proteins that regulate neural crest development.
I have recruited 8 fantastic undergraduate students, and we will have our first graduate student starting in Fall 2017! We are not currently adding students to the lab.