Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of South Florida
Dissertation Project: Role of the Rho-GAP GRAF in skeletal muscle development and repair
My primary scientific goal is to understand the mechanisms which contribute to the proper formation and function of skeletal muscle. In , we study a protein called GRAF, a Rho-specific GTPase activating protein, which we have shown to be an important player in skeletal muscle differentiation and fusion. My thesis project involves exploring how GRAF regulates these processes utilizing biochemical techniques, as well as both cell culture and in vivo mouse models. Dr. Taylor’s lab also has strong interests in the area of cardiovascular biology, where we investigate mechanisms of cardiac growth and smooth muscle cell migration.
I started graduate school at UNC in 2008 as a BBSP rotation student. I carried out my first rotation in Dr. Jeff Sekelsky’s lab in the Department of Biology where I utilized fly genetics to study the role of FANCM in DNA repair. My second rotation was in Dr. Doug Cyr’s lab in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology where I investigated novel binding partners of various Derlin proteins involved in ER-associated degradation. My final rotation was with Dr. Joan Taylor where I initially studied the role of GRAF in Xenopus cardiac morphogenesis before transitioning into skeletal muscle research.