About My Interests and Career Goals
My interests are in presynaptic vesicular release mechanisms and physiology of central synapses. I would like to combine electrical, optical, and molecular biology techniques to study these mechanisms. My goal is to learn and understand more about the mechanisms of vesicular endocytosis and exocytosis, what controls synaptic transmitter vesicle cycling, and to determine the kinetics of synaptic vesicle mobilization and cycling. I would like to use these interests to increase our understanding of the neuronal circuitry within the brain, and relate this knowledge to neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, autism, etc.
Using whole cell patch clamp recordings obtained from visually identified layer II/III pyramidal cells, I have been examining the effects of kainic acid (KA) on inhibitory post-synaptic currents (IPSCs) in the prefrontal cortex. Bath application of 250 nM KA shows a facilitatory effect on IPSCs. My work shows that activation of presynaptic kainate receptors (KARs) increase miniature IPSCs and decrease failure rates of evoked IPSCs. Direct analysis of presynaptic vesicular release, as well as involvement of KAR activation on the release properties of individual synapses, was examined using FM1-43 dyes and multi-photon microscopy. I have also discovered a novel signaling mechanism for the KAR-mediated facilitation of GABAergic synaptic transmission. This involves calcium permeable kainate receptors which activate IP3 receptors subsequently causing an increase in vesicular release. Finally, experimentation with KAR subunit knock-out mice has indicated involvement of the GluR5 subunits. This work is currently being prepared for publication.
My Career Goals
During my research career, I have had the opportunity to teach postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates. I have been able to equip myself with all of the aspects of a great teacher. I have learned to effectively communicate both verbally and in writing. I have led journal club discussion groups, taught classes for qualifying exams, and have mentored individuals within the lab.
My career goals are to teach in a college or university environment. I would like to be able to maintain a laboratory in addition to teaching. My main goal is to provide a network for students who are thinking of or are currently obtaining upper level terminal degrees with students, teachers, and individuals in industry. My successes and experiences in graduate school have been greatly impacted by my mentors at Kenyon. I feel that maintaining these contacts and providing support to students even after they leave college is crucial.
My teaching goals are to provide the same enthusiasm and love for the brain that I developed during my undergraduate studies. I want to inform and excite students about the process and content of scientific discoveries in the neurosciences. The field of neurosciences is constantly changing and my long-term goals are to run an upper-level course not from a textbook but from journals that are providing breakthroughs within the field of neuroscience.