B.S., Johns Hopkins University; Ph.D., Rice University
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Examining the localization and interactions of membrane proteins implicated in human health and disease primarily via fluorescence microscopy.
My research focuses on ion channel and transporter proteins that are important in human physiology and disease. We are currently interested in cardiac potassium channels, which are responsible for maintaining and regulating a normal heartbeat. Our investigations are addressing whether protein-protein interactions between these channels play a role in arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. In the lab, we use classical biochemical approaches in parallel with modern bioimaging techniques, predominantly fluorescence microscopy, to study protein function and cell physiology. Practically, we spend much of our time genetically or chemically labeling proteins with fluorescent molecules and then monitoring and quantifying their localization, mobility, and interactions in cellular systems.
I teach at all levels of the Wellesley curriculum with a focus on the interdisciplinary nature of modern cellular biology. I typically teach a lecture and laboratory section of introductory cell and molecular biology (BISC 110/112) as well as cellular physiology (BISC 220). I have recently introduced a new upper-level seminar course on modern biological imaging (BISC 328) which examines how scientists and clinicians address physiologically relevant questions using imaging-based modalities.
I place increasing importance on the ability of students to evaluate the steady stream of information they are presented with whether technological, medical, or scientific. Success across many fields in our innovation-driven economy depends on the development and application of critical thinking, which I believe can be effectively taught through the basic sciences. I want my students to see science as a language for describing the world and ourselves. I also strive to illustrate research and scientific progress as a continuum, constantly undergoing practical testing and iterative revision.
My research is pursued in collaboration with investigators at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Rhode Island Hospital and the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in which we aim to make a substantial impact in studying the mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death from the molecular scale to the human patient. Along with my lab’s main research projects, I hope future work will include a return to my graduate studies of a unique motor protein, prestin, critical to the advanced mammalian auditory system.
Other academic pursuits include courses focused on how science, engineering, and biotechnologies are implemented to address global health issues in both the developed and developing world. I am also becoming increasingly interested in science literacy and the public perception of science and medicine.
I live in Rhode Island with my husband (bioengineering faculty at Brown University) and our two dogs, who provide endless entertainment. I try to keep active as a “retired” competitive swimmer and have recently taken up running half-marathons. I enjoy baking, gardening, and reading science-related nonfiction.