Hometown: Tyler, Texas
Undergraduate University: UT Tyler
Degree Earned: B.S. Biology (UT Tyler); M.S. Microbiology (UT Arlington)
My Research Interests:
In the Ran lab, we are interested in the redox biology of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). My project is focused on the biology of astrocytes, essential neuroprotective cells, in the context of brain aging, neurodegeneration, and neuroinflammation. Overall, I aim to characterize the role of mitochondrial derived reactive oxygen species (mtROS) in the activation of the inflammasome specifically in astrocytes. To address this, I utilize transgenic mouse models (in vitro and in vivo) that contain altered expression of critical mito-tropic antioxidant proteins. My long-term goal is to better understand the role of astrocyte derived inflammatory signals in the pathogenesis of crippling neurodegenerative diseases.
Why I am excited to study aging:
I chose the aging track because the biology of aging is one of the great evolutionary enigma’s we have in science. Questions like "How did this process evolve?", or "Why do related organisms age at significantly different rates", and "Can the aging process be genetically defined?" fascinate me. More importantly, age is the primary risk factor associated with cancer and neurodegenerative diseases which are collectively responsible for ~$200 billion spent annually in medical costs. Thus, advancements in the field of aging research will have a significant impact on our overall healthcare burden.
My future goals:
Contribute to the advancement of science and medicine as an independent investigator in the field(s) of neurobiology and aging research.
Awards and Honors:
- 2012: Elected as Student Representative serving on the Cell and Structural Biology Departmental Committee of Graduate Studies
- 2010: American Society for Microbiology Travel Grant Recipient
- 2010: UTA Graduate Student Senate Travel Award Recipient
- 2010: Phi Sigma Biology Graduate Student Honor Society Travel Grant Recipient
- 2009: Honorable Mention for Oral Presentation, American Society for Microbiology Texas Branch Conference
- 2009: Selected as the Departmental Microbiology Tutor at UT Arlington
- 2007: Selected as an Anatomy and Physiology Supplemental Instructor at UT Tyler
- 2004: Mr. UT Tyler, Academic Nominee
- 2003-2006: Both Dean's List and President's List Honors as an Undergraduate