First Year Lab Rotations (BSP Program):
Rotation 1: Kristin Artinger's Lab (2008)
Rotation 2: Pepper Schedin's Lab (2009): I worked on a project determining levels of tumor cell metastasis in a mouse model of pregnancy-associated breast cancer. I used the techniques of qRT-PCR and fluorescent RNA in situ hybridization analysis to determine the amount of metastasis from the mammary glands to the lung in virgin versus involution (post-pregnancy and lactation) mice.
Rotation 3: Tom Evans' Lab (2009): I used transgenic and mutant strains of C. elegans to analyze P-body granule formation and structure in the worm gonad and its effects on oogenesis and embryogenesis.
Thesis Advisor: Kristin Artinger
My thesis project in Kristin Artinger's lab is to determine the molecular mechanisms by which the transcription factor Prdm1a regulates genes required for neural crest specification in zebrafish. Neural crest cells are a population of multi-potent cells that arise at the border between the neural and non-neural ectoderm prior to neural tube formation in vertebrates. Derivatives of the neural crest include sensory neurons and glia of the trunk, pigment cells, and cartilages, bones, and tendons of the face. When Prdm1a function is lost, there is a significant loss of neural crest cells and a downregulation of many key genes involved in the early specification and development of the neural crest. I am interested in determining what genes are transcriptionally targeted by Prdm1a directly and what other genes lie further downstream in the pathway. Through studies using ChIP, ChIP-seq, and microarray analyses, I hope to begin to build a gene regulatory network of Prdm1a function in the process of zebrafish neural crest specification.
Comprehensive Exam, September 29, 2010:
"Determining the molecular mechanisms by which Prdm1a regulates neural crest specification"
Honors and Awards:
Recipient of NRSA pre-doctoral fellowship from National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2011
Selected to attend the Marine Biological Laboratory's summer course in Embryology, 2010
Recipient of the Hirs Graduate Student Travel Award, Spring 2010
Hernandez-Lagunas, L., Powell, D. R., Law, J., Grant, K. A., Artinger, K. B., 2011. prdm1a and olig4 act downstream of Notch signaling to regulate cell fate at the neural plate border. Developmental Biology. 356, 496-505.
Bachelor of Science, Biology, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, 2008
I attended an NSF Research Experience for Undergrads summer project in Dr. Alison Barth's lab at Carnegie Mellon University where I worked on neuronal diversification in the mouse neonatal cortex.
At Dickinson College, I worked in Dr. Mike Robert's lab on the effect of butyric acid treatment on NF-kB activity in human leukemia cells.
Why did you decide to pursue a PhD in Cell Biology, Stem Cells & Development?
I entered grad school through the BSP (Biomedical Sciences) program and after attending multiple program retreats and talks, I chose to join the CSD program because it most aligns with my research interests and I really enjoyed the interactions with the faculty and students within the program. Most everyone knows each other on a personal and professional level and there are many forums such as talks, journal clubs, and special events through which to interact.
Why did you choose CU's Anschutz Medical Campus?
I primarily chose to carry out my graduate education here at AMC due to its strong, collegial environment. Students and faculty within and across programs and departments very frequently collaborate on projects both experimentally and intellectually. There seems to be a lot of mutual respect, admiration, and amiability between faculty and students alike.
Where did you grow up?
When did you start the graduate program at Anschutz Medical Campus?
Fall, 2008, as a BSP student, and summer, 2009, as a CSD student.
What do you for fun?
I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, and snowboarding. Basically anything that gets me out in the mountains!
What do you like about living in Colorado?
The sunny weather and the friendly people. Denver and Boulder are both fun cities and the mountains are only a short ways away. Also, there are a large number of excellent microbreweries in the area!
What do you like about the Anschutz Medical Campus?
It's a very inviting, friendly campus and there are opportunities to interact not only with grad students but dental and medical students as well.