Research Interests (300 words)
My research so far has revolved around the broader topic of plant lipid metabolism. My previous work focused on sphingolipid metabolism, how it is regulated, and how it impacts growth and cellular processes like programmed cell death. My current work focuses on metabolism of the lipid-derived plant defense hormone, jasmonic acid, and how it affects plant defenses against insect herbivory. I am currently looking at how jasmonic acid is synthesized in response to wounding and how it is metabolized and degraded after a wounding response has been triggered. There are a multitude of potential proteins involved here and it is still a bit of mystery as to how jasmonic acid is so rapidly synthesized by the plants. In general, I am interested in how enzymes in these metabolic pathways function and how they are regulated. I am also interested in how these pathways intersect/interact and what impact that has on plant growth and development. I am interested in lipid research because lipids are often overlooked in having roles outside of membrane structure. In reality, lipids are a structurally diverse class of molecules that are involved in immunity, hormone production, and cellular signaling. Although I’ve had some research experience in yeast and animal systems, I like working with plants because I find them to be the perfect model organism. They are great to use for experiments and at the same time you can gain diverse knowledge from them that can be used to improve crop production or to investigate human diseases.