We are interested in understanding how cells develop into organisms. We love the nematode C. elegans, because it allows us to readily combine a great number of useful techniques, including techniques of cell biology, direct manipulation of cells, forward and reverse genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics, and live imaging of cells and their dynamic, cytoskeletal components. Current work in the lab addresses several fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology — how cells move to specific positions during development, how cells change shape, how developmental patterning mechanisms tell cell biological mechanisms what to do where and when, how intercellular signals act to polarize cells, and how the mitotic spindle is positioned in cells. We have used other organisms, including Drosophila and Xenopus, to test whether what we discover applies more broadly, We have also been developing a relative of C. elegans and Drosophila — a water bear (tardigrade) — to study how developmental mechanisms can evolve to produce organisms with different forms and how biological materials can survive unusual extremes.
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