Martis Cowles




I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology with honors from SDSU in the spring of 2007. After a year of working at Illumina as a Research Associate, I began the Master’s degree program in Cell and Molecular Biology at SDSU and joined the laboratory of Dr. Ricardo Zayas to study tissue regeneration in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. There, I investigated the role of neuronal migration genes in planarian adult stem cells, identifying a lissencephaly-1 homolog that it is required for mitotic progression. In the fall of 2010, I was accepted into the Joint Doctoral Program in Cell and Molecular Biology at UCSD and SDSU and continued my studies in the Zayas laboratory. For my PhD, I performed a genome-wide assessment of the basic Helix Loop Helix  (bHLH) transcription factor gene family, identifying nine bHLH factors with roles in adult neurogenesis and nervous system regeneration in planarians. From this screen, I identified a planarian homolog of COE, a highly conserved atypical bHLH associated with human diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease and glioblastoma. I identified new COE targets in mature neurons and differentiating stem cells by comparing the transcriptome profiles of control and coe-deficient animals, revealing novel insights into how defects in COE contribute to nervous system dysfunction. During my graduate tenure, I was recognized as an Achievement Reward for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholar and an Inamori Fellow. In March of 2014, I joined the Anton lab as a postdoctoral researcher.


My research goals in the Anton lab are aimed at investigating developmental mechanisms that underlie construction and maintenance of the mammalian neocortex, with an emphasis on how defects in these processes contribute to neurodevelopmental or psychiatric disorders in humans.




2009: Best Student Poster Award, West Coast Regional SDB meeting
2011: Graduate Student Travel Award
2011: President’s Award: San Diego State University Student Research Competition
2011: 2nd Place Winner: 25th Annual California State Student Research Competition
2011-2014: Achievement Reward for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholar
2012-2013: Inamori Foundation Fellow