PhD (4th year)
Department: Neuroscience & Physiology
Advisor: Brian Howell, PhD
I began the MD/PhD program at Upstate in 2010. Although I did not always know that I would want to be a physician scientist, I have always been fascinated by science, whether it was Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus, Girl Scout conservation efforts, animal behavior and welfare, healthy eating, or neuroscience and medicine. At Upstate, I have the opportunity to explore science from both the bench and the bedside. My mom has always been a role model and inspiration for me, and her work with elementary and high school special education students sparked in me a particular interest to research pediatric genetic and neurological disorders and to work with the pediatric patient population. However, it is only with the amazing guidance of both my research advisor Dr. Brian Howell and clinical mentor Dr. Klaus Werner that I have been able to truly realize my potential to make a significant contribution to developmental neuroscience and pediatric neurology.
My research in Dr. Howell’s lab focuses on missense variants in the Reelin protein that have been linked to autism and the processes at the cell-biological level by which these mutations contribute to disease. In addition to the primary aims of this research, I am also interested in aspects of normal Reelin function and its role in brain development and signaling. My research is generously funded through an F31 NINDS training fellowship. Other areas of interest include the role of extracellular-matrix components in developmental neurobiology, the role of the cerebellum, especially in the recently realized areas of cognition and behavior, and movement disorders – both clinically and at the basic science level.
Outside of Upstate I enjoy a number of different hobbies. Particularly, having played volleyball and competed in track and field at Binghamton University, I still strive to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. I train and compete with the Syracuse Track Club, and recently ran the Boston Marathon. In addition, my husband and I host a CSA (community-supported agriculture) pick-up location, and we enjoy cooking together and for friends. We also enjoy spending time with our dog, Bingo, and when he’s not in the mood to run, I work one-on-one with area volunteers to help exercise adoptable dogs. For more low-key hobbies, I like to relax playing the piano, drawing, or reading, with current favorite authors being Agatha Christie, Oliver Sacks, and Spencer Quinn (Peter Abrahams).