Graduate Student Directory

Megan Aldrup  
UPGG Graduate Student

CIEMAS, Room 2339A
Box 3382 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27708

Phone: 919.684.6797
Fax: 919.668.0795


Research Interest: Centromere identity and function in chromosome 17

I’m a second year graduate student, originally from northeast Ohio by way of Houston, TX. In 2011, I graduated from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in English Writing. During undergrad, I also gained summer research experience at the University of Minnesota, studying the phenomenon of foreign DNA restriction in vertebrates. My fascination with the molecular biology I learned about in college added to an interest in chromosomes that I’ve harbored since childhood, leading me to Duke’s UPGG. I love living in North Carolina; beyond my studies, I enjoy hiking in the state’s gorgeous hills and eating delicious barbeque and fried green tomatoes, preferably all in the same Saturday.

In Beth Sullivan’s lab, I’m interested in using human chromosome 17 to study centromere identity and function. Chromosome 17 contains two distinct arrays of α-satellite, the repetitive DNA found at human centromeres; although this gives the centromere two potential places to assemble, centromeric chromatin is only present on one array per chromosome. Their location on that chromosome is inherited across generations and can be thought of as a functional allele or “epiallele.” We can use this centromeric choice on human chromosome 17 as a model to elucidate the molecular basis for centromere establishment and maintenance. I’m currently working to assay epialleles across several large families and to correlate these epialleles with genetic factors including α-satellite array size, known restriction site and copy number polymorphisms, and other sequence differences.

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