- Bachelor of Science, University of Texas at Austin, 1996
- Doctor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2003
- Drosophila genetics
- Cell biology of neurons
- Developmental signaling
I conduct research using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to understand the causes of neuronal degeneration. Many human diseases result in neuronal degeneration, but the mechanisms that kill neurons are still poorly understood. By focusing on the basic biology of neurons, I hope to learn how neurons normally stay healthy and how different disease states perturb that process. I focus primarily on the neurons of the fly eye, which provide a wealth of genetic tools to let us study neurons in their normal setting. Flies also have a short lifespan, which is helpful for studying diseases that occur in old age in man. This combination of research tools and short lifespan allows us to do experiments in flies that are impractical or simply impossible in mammals.