- Post-doc, Protein Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Ph.D., Evolutionary Genetics, Duke University, Durham, NC
- B.S., Evolution and Genetics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
- Assistant Professor, Biology
- Augustana University
Genes do not act in isolation in a cell. Instead, each gene is found in a complex network with many interacting partners. My lab is broadly focused on understanding evolution in metabolic pathways. We have two systems that we are currently using to address how biochemical pathways change.
1) Corticosteriods are a class of important steroid hormones that regulate stress response (cortisol) and salt balance (aldosterone) in tetrapods. In most mammals, a single enzyme (CYP11B) is responsible for making these hormones. Whether CYP11B preferentially produces aldosterone or cortisol is determined by allosterically regulation by another enzyme, CYP11A1. My lab studies the interaction of CYP11B and CYP11A across the mammalian tree to determine the genetic and biochemical mechanisms of allosteric regulation of the corticosteroid pathway in mammals. Students will be offered opportunities in molecular biology, cell culture techniques, proteomics, and bioinformatics.
2) Hybridization is common in nature and can lead to many interesting phenomena, including introgression of adaptive genes and alleles across species. Two species of milkweed (Asclepias speciosa and A. syriaca) share a zone of overlap in the central US and we have identified hybrids in the field. In collaboration with Dr. Steven Matzner and Augustana, we are trying to understand the genomic and biochemical basis of differences that reinforce species boundaries. Students will be offered training opportunities in ecological field research, molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics.