I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Biology department of UMass Amherst, working in the lab of Lilian Fritz-Laylin. I am a cell biologist, interested in how cells move rapidly in response to physical changes in their environment. I am currently studying this question in the single-celled eukaryote Naegleria gruberi, which can transition between amoeboid and flagellar migration strategies, and last shared a common ancestor with humans over a billion years ago. I am also looking into the mechanisms underlying Naegleria’s unique cell division processes, as a case study in evolutionary cell biology and also as a route to discover treatments for infection by the related organism Naegleria fowleri—sometimes known as the “brain-eating amoeba.” To address these questions I combine live and fixed-cell microscopy with quantitative image analysis, and I develop techniques for controlled environmental perturbations.
I received my PhD in Biophysics from Stanford University in 2021, working in the lab of Julie Theriot, now at the University of Washington Department of Biology. During my PhD I studied the wound healing response in larval zebrafish skin, as a model system for how cells move in response to changing environmental cues.
I received my Masters from the University of Cambridge (Emmanuel College) under the direction of Pietro Cicuta, studying how populations of bacteria maintain a constant average size despite rapid exponential growth and division. Before that I received my Bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, where I investigated how cyanobacteria cope with high light stress in the lab of Erin O’Shea.
I believe that everyone’s life can be enriched by an appreciation of science or by practicing the scientific method. More must be done to reduce the barriers to accessing scientific knowledge, and to combat the systems of oppression that obstruct the flourishing of anyone in a scientific career. To address some of the barriers faced by first-generation college students interested in STEM, I co-founded Stanford Future Advancers of Science and Technology, an outreach organization that partners students in Bay Area high schools with PhD mentors. Over the course of an entire year, students and mentors work together to design and carry out an original science project that matters to the student. In my 3 years with the organization I saw it expand from 50 students and 20 mentors to 180 students and 40 mentors across STEM disciplines.
Outside the lab I enjoy walks in the woods and improvising on the piano, and I have been recently exploring photography for fun, not just as a research tool.