As a Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Linda Huang at UMass Boston, I study how cells regulate the size and shape of new membranes. All cells must grow new membranes, and yet the regulatory mechanisms behind this process are poorly understood. Budding yeast provides a powerful system to study membrane development, through the process of sporulation. Diploid yeast undergo sporulation under starvation conditions, beginning with meiosis and resulting in four haploid nuclei, surrounded by a protective coat known as the spore wall. Between these two processes, the nuclei are surrounded by a double lipid bilayer known as the Prospore Membrane (PSM), which provides a scaffold for the deposition of the spore wall, and the inner layer of which will become the plasma membrane of the new cell. We can monitor the growth of the PSM by fluorescence microscopy, and my goal is to better understand the signaling mechanisms that control the size and shape of this new membrane structure.
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As a Dartmouth undergraduate, I got involved in research in the laboratory of Professor Sharon Bickel, studying the mechanism by which chromosomes segregate during meiosis. Specifically, I studied the role of cohesin- a highly conserved protein complex- in the segregation of achiasmate homologs. For more detailed information, check out the poster below.