Exploring how organisms cope with biological adversity.

I am interested in how physiological systems influence the way that an organism to deals with routine environmental challenges. Driven by this broad question I am doing Post-Doctoral research in Dr. Coleen Murphy's laboratory, at the Lewis-Sigler Institute at Princeton University. We use the genetic workhorse Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate how genetic networks interact to regulate stress responses, aging of the body and aging of the reproductive system. In the panel below I show how we determined that reducing the function of the growth promoting gene PQM-1 (pink points) inhibits escape from a starvation-induced (small-bodied) stress resistant state (Tepper & Ashraf et al.  (2013) Cell).

Another set of projects stems from work that I did as a graduate student in Dr. Scott Emmons' and  Dr. Alexandra Basolo's,  laboratories investigating how the signals from the reproductive system regulate mate rejection and mate searching behavior. The panel shows C. elegans males "leaving" a circular patch of food to search for mates. The behavior is promoted by the male gonad and suppressed by mates (Lipton et al. (2004) J. Neuroscience, Kleemann et al. (2007) Genetics).

To address questions at the whole-genome level, we often characterize thousands of animals for association studies or mutagenic screens. Together with collaborators at Princeton University, I have developed a hardware (custom imaging systems) and software (WormView toolbox) tool set to facilitate high throughput data acquisition and analysis.