During every cell generation, chromosomes are replicated and sister chromosomes are segregated to each of the daughter cells. The segregation of chromosomes involves a complex cellular machine called the mitotic spindle. The major components of the mitotic spindle are microtubule fibers that connect chromosomes to the spindle poles, the poles to each other, and each pole to cellular components distal to the spindle. In addition, a large number of other proteins are involved in spindle function. Although many of these proteins are as yet uncharacterized, they are thought to include microtubule motor proteins that mediate movements, regulatory proteins that influence microtubule assembly, and structural proteins that are required for spindle assembly and function. These proteins work together to form an extremely efficient machine; in yeast, a chromosome is missegregated only once in every 100,000 cell divisions. The aim of our lab is to identify proteins involved in mitotic spindle function in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and to study the function of these proteins at the molecular level. With its sophisticated molecular genetics, increasingly powerful cell biology tools, and relatively simple mitotic spindle, yeast is a particularly tractable organism for these studies.
I currently teach BIOG 1350, Principles of Cell and Developmental Biology. This is one the course courses for freshman biology majors.