Latest Publications:
Resistance to Germline RNAi in a Caenorhabditis elegans Wild Isolate Exhibits Complexity and Non-Additivity - G3

Design and Construction of Recombinant Inbred Lines - Methods in Molecular Biology
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My research focuses on the genetic and molecular basis for natural variation in gene expression.
Why gene expression? The expression of the genome is the first step in the connection of genotype to cellular and organismal phenotype. Variation in the level and timing of a gene's expression can underlie major differences in organismal phenotypes, such as appendage morphology in arthropods (Averof & Patel 1997), obesity in mice (Schadt et al 2005) or cancer progression in humans (Gupta et al 2010). If we can make progress on linking genetic variation to gene expression variation, we can get closer to linking genotype to all phenotypes.
Why natural variation? Natural genetic variation underlies heritable differences between individuals within and between species. Understanding how natural genetic variation leads to phenotypic variation provides insight into fundamental questions about how species evolve and why individuals subject to similar conditions display drastically different phenotypes (e.g. disease resistance and longevity).
I am currently pursuing several approaches to understand the genetic basis for natural variation in gene expression. I am using the nematode worm, C. elegans, to understand the genetic basis for natural variation in post-transcriptional RNA regulation via the RNA interference pathway and to understand the role epistatic interactions between cis-acting and trans-acting natural genetic variation plays in gene expression variation. I am also using brewer's yeast, S. cerevisiae, to understand how natural variation in gene expression during mating impacts downstream phenotypes, such as translation rate and protein abundance.
Past projects have focused on the use of comparative genomics to understand how cis-regulatory sequences in fruit flies and yeast vary between species. I have also worked on phylogenetic incongruence due to incomplete lineage sorting and DNA sequence alignment accuracy.