Research Interests: Embryonic brain development, brain evolution
My interests are in how the brain develops, particularly in the context of developmental disorders. My research in Debra Silver’s lab focuses on the behavior of the neural stem cells of the developing cortex – termed Radial Glia. Using genetic mouse models as well as live imaging, we interrogate how radial glial stem cells produce the excitatory neurons important for cognition in the mature adult cortex. When this process is disrupted it results in developmental disorders, including microcephaly, which is a smaller than average cortex. Microcephaly patients present with a range of intellectual disabilities, thus it is important to elucidate how developmental processes are altered in these cases. Specifically, we aim to understand how Radial Glia make fate decisions during differentiation, and to identify the pathways responsible when these fate decisions are altered in the context of human disorders.
In my first year at Duke I and two fellow graduate students founded Duke INSPIRE, which is dedicated to the enrichment of PhD education as well as organizing events to disseminate scientific knowledge to the general public. We hold bi-monthly meetings as well as a number of other events throughout the year centered around various topics of scientific innovation, the ethics of science, career development, and scientific outreach.
Outside of Duke my interests are in music, philosophy, cooking, and the outdoors. I enjoy playing music for others as well as attending concerts. Durham has a surprisingly robust music scene. I am frequently found at dinner parties, camping and hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and spending quality time hanging out with friends.