- Drosophila Developmental Genetics
- B.S. - California Institute of Technology
- Ph.D. - University of Minnesota — Twin Cities
The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is an excellent model organism for studying the development of multicellular organisms. During development, selective gene expression is crucial for the formation of different cell types; this expression is fundamentally controlled by DNA sequences known as enhancers. Enhancers interact with promoters to turn on the expression of associated genes. My research is focused on the CTCF protein, which binds to nearly 12,000 sites in the D. melanogaster genome, and may act to regulate enhancer-promoter interactions. Examination of these sites in other Drosophila genomes reveals that CTCF sites associated with genes that control non-essential processes are less conserved that those associated with essential genes. We are currently investigating the hypothesis that the lack of conservation of these dCTCF sites leads to changes in the expression of these non-essential genes, which may contribute to morphological (physical) changes among species.
My second research interest investigates how genomes are organized. In collaboration with the Genomics Education Partnership based at Washington University, I teach a research-based course in which students refine publically available genomic sequences from different Drosophila species and examine the characteristics of a region of gene-containing heterochromatin. The goal of this research is two-fold: to understand how heterochromatin is organized, and to provide a first-hand experience in the practice of science in the context of a regular-semester course offering. Our assessment data shows that such a student experience provides comparable educational benefits to a traditional summer-long research project.
C. D. Shaffer, C. Alvarez, C. Bailey, D. Barnard, S. Bhalla, C. Chandrasekaran, V. Chandrasekaran, H. Chung, D. Dorer, C. Du, T. Eckdahl, J.Poet, D. Frohlich, A. Goodman, Y. Gosser, C. Hauser, L. Hoopes, D. Johnson, C. Jones, M. Kaehler, N. Kokan, O. Kopp, G. Kuleck, G. McNeil, R. Moss, J. Myka, A. Nagengast, R. Morris, P. Overvoorde, L. Shoop, S. Parrish, K. Reed, E. G. Regisford, D. Revie, A. Rosenwald, K. Saville, S. Schroeder, M. Shaw, C. Smith, M. Smith, E. Spana, M. Spratt, J. Stamm, J. Thompson, M. Wawersik, B. Wilson, J. Youngblom, W. Leung, D. Lopatto, S. C. R. Elgin. 2010. The Genomics Education Partnership: Successful integration of research into laboratory classes at a diverse group of undergraduate institutions. CBE Life Sci Educ 9(1): 55-69.