International Snail Station
I am a developmental cell biologist and a teacher of wide-ranging topics in biology. I am especially interested in cellular processes underlying the earliest steps in patterning animal body plans.
My doctoral research applied single-cell deletion and other microsurgical interventions in embryos of the sea snail Ilyanassa, revealing that cell contacts NORMALLY shift the plane of a specific cell's asymmetric division, preventing its daughter cell from developing EXCESS neurosensory organs. In connection with this study, I also compiled a description of the Ilyanassa embryo's spatiotemporal pattern of cell division up to the 84-cell stage, revealing in this species a widespread tendency toward increased complexity compared with analogous patterns in other kinds of snail embryo.
As a postdoctoral researcher, I extended my explorations of cellular mechanics in early development by using genetics and live cell imaging analysis to dissect the spatial regulation of forces that move centrosomes in the C. elegans zygote.
More recently I have continued exploring how early embryonic cell cycles are regulated in coordination with the earliest cellular decisions impacting developmental potential in gastropods, which offer unique advantages as a model system for this area of discovery.