Bachelor of Science, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, 2011.
Why did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development?
This field offers an opportunity to study the processes of life at one of its most interesting conceptual intersections. By considering biological phenomena at the molecular, cellular, and developmental level, we are shown varieties of complexity that can be missed by investigative approaches that operate at more reductionistic levels. We are allowed to appreciate, for instance, that information is not only encoded and controlled molecularly, but also through the spatial and chronological dimensions that hold cells in relation to one another. The intercellular pathways and processes explored in developmental biology bridge the worlds of the micro and the macro. They not only highlight intriguing concepts of weak and strong emergence, but approach the answer to one of biology’s primary questions: how trillions of ostensibly independent organisms can be generated in such a way as to come together as a coordinated and integrated single whole.
When these concepts are applied alongside the lessons being generated from the growing field of stem cell biology, they can become powerful tools to not only understand life, but to manipulate it. With achievements in this field come promises of rebuilding broken bodies and reknitting damaged flesh. My choice of field was principally motivated by a deep curiosity towards the processes of life and the more visceral drive to alleviate human suffering. I'm strongly convinced that the only way to effectively approach the second desire is to widely indulge the first.
Why did you choose CU's Anschutz Medical Campus?
I visited and interviewed with several other Universities around the country, which were all impressive in their own right. And while it is true that AMC has exceptional facilities, strong academics, and an especially successful history of securing grants and funding, the first indication for me that I might have found the right place was an almost tangible sense of happy sanity that everyone I met seemed to give off. I saw many pairs of calm, confident eyes, belonging to people who seemed either untouched or unphased by the stressed-out, desperate dynamic that seemed so present at many of the other schools I had visited. The people I met were friendly, intelligent, curious, driven, and engaged in their work, all while living lives that showed every hallmark of being emotionally sustainable. I wanted this for myself, and when the letter came I was very happy to accept its offer.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Katy, TX, a small town (this is an increasingly inaccurate description as time goes on) west of Houston. In my years there, Katy’s spirit had a distinct combination of small town East Texas character set against the slowly advancing force of suburban sprawl – a chaotic state of flux that can only exist in a place for precious few years. This setting created many one-of-a-kind attributes, coloring memories that will at once make me long for the place fiercely, while simultaneously reaffirming that my teenage desire to “get the hell out of there as soon as humanly possible” was a very reasonable position to take, all things considered. It is the epitome of a place one misses, sometimes.
When did you start the graduate program at Anschutz Medical Campus?
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy film, fiction, bicycling, beer, and the company of family and friends. In my free time I study and practice the martial arts of renaissance Europe as a member of the ARMA (www.thearma.org.)