Advisor: James Groome
Degree: PhD Biology
2016, B.S. Biology, Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC
2016, B.S. Environmental Studies, Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC
I grew up outside of Seattle, and moved to Swannanoa, North Carolina to complete my undergraduate education. Warren Wilson College is unique in the fact that it requires each student to work on campus and complete community service requirements along with traditional course requirements. During my time there, I worked as the student manager of the cattle and sheep herd on the college farm and as research technician in the college’s genetics lab. While spending a semester at University of Montana, I completed my senior thesis research on the effects of sheep grazing and herbicide application on Spotted Knapweed populations outside of Missoula, Montana. I graduated in 2016 with a double B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies with a minor in Chemistry.
Currently, I am pursuing and PhD with Dr. James Groome at Idaho State University and hope to continue on to veterinary school or medical school. Ultimately, I would like to conduct biomedical research that includes a clinical component.
My research focuses on the molecular mechanism of the voltage-gated sodium channel hNaV1.4. These channels are found in human skeletal muscle and help to propagate action potentials through the muscle. Mutations in these channels can cause neuromuscular disorders such as hypokalemic periodic paralysis, paramyotonia congenita and congenital myasthenic syndrome.
Each channel is made up of four domains, each containing a voltage-sensor module and a pore module. The voltage-sensor module is made up of four transmembrane helices, one of which contains the voltage-sensing residues. This S4 helix contains evenly-spaced positively charged amino acids that can sense a change in membrane potential and encourage state transitions. Upon membrane depolarization, the channels activate and then inactivate. Once the membrane repolarizes the channels transit to the closed, or resting state.
Specifically, I am using a combination of cut-open voltage clamp electrophysiology, molecular dynamics simulations, free energy calculations and mathematical models to determine specific electrostatic interactions that take place during these state transitions. This combination of techniques will allow me to more accurately characterize interactions between the positively charged residues and putative negative countercharges in the voltage sensor.
BIOL 3301 Anatomy and Physiology I Lab
BIOL 3302 Anatomy and Physiology II Lab
Pocatello, ID 83209-8007