Cell & Molecular Biology

Understanding the molecular mechanisms behind cellular processes provides insight into many aspects of modern biology, from embryonic development to human disease. Work in the biology department uses both plant and animal model systems to explore such diverse cellular events as chromosome movement, cell cycle regulation, control of gene expression, cell to cell signaling, coordination of cell movements and growth during development, and pathogen resistance.

Daniele Armaleo

Associate Professor of the Practice of Biology

My research centers on the developmental and molecular biology of lichens, well differentiated symbioses between two or three evolutionarily unrelated organisms: specialized fungi on the one hand and algae or cyanobacteria on the other. The 13,500 known lichen species represent 50% of all known ascomycete fungi, are widespread throughout most terrestrial ecosystems, and often... Full Profile »

L. Ryan Baugh

Associate Professor of Biology

We study nutritional control of development in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. We are interested in the signaling pathways and gene regulatory mechanisms that enable the worm to reversibly arrest development and resist stress in response to starvation. We are also investigating epigenetic mechanisms responsible for transgenerational effects of starvation. Full Profile »

Amy Bejsovec

Associate Professor of Biology

My laboratory explores the molecular mechanisms of pattern formation in developing embryos. We focus on the Wingless(Wg)/Wnt class of secreted growth factor: these molecules promote cell-cell communication leading to important cell fate decisions during the development of both vertebrate and invertebrate embryos. In addition, this highly conserved pathway is essential for maintaining stem cell populations and is associated with human cancers when inappropriately activated in adult tissues. Wg/... Full Profile »

Philip N. Benfey

Paul Kramer Professor of Biology in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

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John E Boynton

Professor Emeritus

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Nicolas Buchler

Assistant Professor of Biology

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Xinnian Dong

Arts and Sciences Professor of Biology in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

Using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system, my laboratory studies the mechanisms of plant defense against microbial pathogens. We focus on a specific response known as systemic acquired resistance (SAR). SAR, which can be induced by a local infection, provides the plants with long lasting, systemic resistance against a broad spectrum of pathogens. Salicylic acid (SA; an... Full Profile »

Steven B. Haase

Associate Professor of Biology

In order to divide, cells must first duplicate their entire contents, and then segregate the duplicated contents equally into two daughter cells. The duplication and segregation events of the cell division cycle must be triggered in a strict temporal order to insure that each new daughter cell is identical to the original mother cell. Using the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as a model system, we are investigating the role of a highly conserved family of cell cycle regulatory... Full Profile »

Alison Hill

Senior Lecturer of Biology

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Daniel P. Kiehart

Professor of Biology

Our intellectual focus is on identifying determinants of cell shape that function during development and wound healing. We utilize novel biophysical strategies (in collaboration with Glenn Edwards' group in Physics and with Stephanos Venakide's and John Harer's groups in Mathematics) in concert with modern molecular genetic and reverse genetic approaches in Drosophila to explore the forces that are responsible for cell shape change and movements. We show that both the amnioserosa and a... Full Profile »

David R. McClay

Arthur S. Pearse Professor of Biology in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

We ask how the embryo works. Prior to morphogenesis the embryo specifies each cell through transcriptional regulation and signaling. Our research builds gene regulatory networks to understand how that early specification works. We then ask how this specification programs cells for their morphogenetic movements at gastrulation, and how the cells deploy patterning information. Current projects examine 1) novel signal transduction mechanisms that establish and maintain embryonic boundaries... Full Profile »

R. Bruce Nicklas

Arthur S. Pearse Professor Emeritus of Biology

I am now retired and my lab is closed. In the past, we pushed chromosomes around by micromanipulation to learn more about chromosome movement in mitosis. We tugged on chromosomes to measure the forces produced by the spindle and chopped spindles apart to locate the motor for chromosome movement. Most recently we pulled on chromosomes to learn to connect cell mechanics with the molecular biology of a cell cycle checkpoint. The checkpoint monitors chromosome attachment to the spindle and helps... Full Profile »

Zhen-Ming Pei

Associate Professor of Biology

My laboratory is interested in the early signaling events by which plants sense environmental signals and decode to give the appropriate responses. Upon perception of external signals, cell surface receptors trigger an increase in cytosolic free calcium concentration, which is mediated by ion channels. Our long-term goals are to identify these receptors and ion channels, isolate their interacting components, and assign molecular functions to them. Currently, we are using multidisciplinary... Full Profile »

Amy K. Schmid

Assistant Professor of Biology

Although life science research has entered the post-genomic era, we still understand little about the diversity of microbial life on earth. Information is particularly lacking on microbial extremophiles, which thrive at the limits of life. Extremophiles can be found in deep-sea hydrothermal vents under high pressure and temperature, saturated salt lakes, and polar icecaps. Many of these organisms are members of the third domain of life, the archaea. How do these microorganisms cope with an... Full Profile »

David R. Sherwood

Associate Professor in the Department of Biology

Our research is directed at elucidating mechanisms underlying morphogenetic processes in development. We primarily use the model system C. elegans in our research, and combine powerful genetic and systems biology approaches with live-cell imaging to address three main topics:   Tissue Remodeling and Connection A major focus of the lab is the understanding of mechanisms underlying uterine-vulval attachment. A key aspect of this process is the invasion of a single uterine cell,... Full Profile »

Nina Tang Sherwood

Associate Professor of the Practice in the Department of Biology

We use Drosophila melanogaster as a model to understand nervous system development and function. In a genetic screen for molecules important to these processes, we discovered the fly ortholog of the spastin gene, which when mutated in humans leads to a progressive neurodegenerative disease called Autosomal-Dominant Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (AD-HSP). Individuals with AD-HSP have difficulty walking, sometimes from as early as childhood, and can end up confined to wheelchairs. We have shown... Full Profile »

James N. Siedow

Professor Emeritus of Biology

Physiological, biochemical and molecular studies of plant oxidative processes. Research in my laboratory studies metabolic processes related to aerobic respiration in plants and fungi. Specifically, this research involves isolating and characterizing the structural and regulatory features of the cyanide-resistant "alternative" oxidase associated with all plant and many fungal mitochondria. The mechanism of action of a regulatory sulfhydryl-disulfide system on the alternative oxidase and its... Full Profile »

Tai-ping Sun

Professor of Biology

The diterpenoid phytohormone gibberellin (GA) plays pivotal roles in regulating growth and development throughout the life cycle of higher plants. Mutations affecting GA biosynthesis or GA response were the key to control plant stature in wheat and rice that led to dramatically increased grain yield and contributed greatly to the success of the ‘Green Revolution’ in the 1960s. Although the GA biosynthetic pathway had been characterized biochemically, little was known about the sites of GA... Full Profile »

Pelin Cayirlioglu Volkan

Assistant Professor of Biology

The long-term goal in the lab is to understand the developmental processes that establish the basic organizational and functional principles of the neuronal circuits in the brain. We investigate how the neuronal circuits assemble, functionally mature, remodel in developmental and evolutionary time scales. To understand these processes the Volkan lab uses the olfactory system of the genetically tractable Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism and apply molecular, developmental and systems... Full Profile »