Microtubules are polarized, non-covalent polymers of tubulin that form the main structural scaffolding of the mitotic spindle, organize the trafficking of membrane-bound organelles, and establish patterns of cell polarity during cell migration and morphogenesis. These activities all demand a high degree structural plasticity so that microtubules may be organized into various functional arrays as cells proceed through the cell cycle or respond to external signals. Microtubules are extremely dynamic, growing and shrinking primarily by cycles of subunit addition and loss from their ends in a process termed dynamic instability. We are studying how microtubule organization and dynamics are regulated by proteins that selectively interact with their ends.
In addition to extrinsic factors, microtubules are also regulated by a complex network of post-tranaslational modifications. A recent focus in the lab has been understanding how these modifications regulate microtubule organization and how they participate in development and function of the nervous system.
Before coming to UNC, I was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I received my PhD working with Vladimir Gelfand in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and spent five years as a postdoctoral associate working with Ron Vale in the Dept. of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF.
In fall 2016, I am teaching a graduate-level course on cytoskeletal biology with Kevin Slep. The course syllabus can be accessed here:
Seminar in Cell Biology: Cytoskeletal Structure and Function..
(Notice, this course is also open to upper-level undergraduates : contact me if you are interested.)
In spring 2017, I am teaching an undergrduate graduate-level course on cell and developmental biology with Zach Nimchuk. The previous course website can be accessed here:
BIO 205: Introduction to Cell and Developmental Biology.