• Title Graduate student-Varelas Lab
  • Education BA Biology, Swarthmore
  • Office K6, Varelas Lab
  • Area of Interest Hippo pathway
    Airway epithelial cell differentiation

As a graduate student in the Varelas Lab, I study the molecular and environmental cues that direct cell fate specification in the lung epithelium. The lung has remarkable regenerative capacity in response to infection and injury, despite being a largely quiescent organ. Several of us in the lab are interested in understanding how the differentiation of local progenitor cells is regulated and may become dysregulated, contributing to a diseased state. In order to fully understand the signaling pathways regulating epithelial development, we use a combination of in vivo mouse models, in vitro primary cell culture assays, as well as more mechanistic biochemical approaches. My work is particularly focused on the role of the Hippo pathway in regulating the differentiation of the airway epithelial cells, and is supported by an NIH F31 Fellowship.

Before coming to Boston University for my PhD, I earned my BA in Biology from Swarthmore College and later joined the Wyss Institute as a research assistant. While at the Wyss, my research focused on developing a hemofiltration device for the treatment of sepsis, as well as the design of biocompatible materials for medical devices to minimize thrombosis and biofouling. Through this work, I became very interested in cell-environment interactions and the role of external stimuli in regulating cell behavior, which naturally led me to the Hippo pathway and to Dr. Varelas’ research.

Now, as a student, here at BUSM, it’s been wonderful to be surrounded by a community of excited and engaged scientists and I’ve found mentors all across the campus. Faculty in the Pulmonary Center, for example, supported me through their T32 training grant and continue to serve as a useful resource, bringing together physicians and scientists for regular seminars. Most of all, within the Biochemistry Department, Dr. Varelas, Dr. Trinkaus-Randall and others, are always dedicated advisors, ready to give guidance. Whether I’m working on writing a fellowship, presenting to my dissertation committee, or just have new data I’m trying to puzzle through, I know that the faculty in the Biochemistry Department are there to give me feedback, challenge me, and help me learn as much as I can.

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