About Me

Cell biologist studying how cells perceive their environments and respond with discrete behaviors. Interests include pharmacology, automated quantitative image analysis, teaching, and mentoring.


Our cells have have a limited number of tools to sense their environment, but they have to be capable of responding to a practically unlimited number of environmental signals. I study how cells decode different signals acting on the same machinery to produce distinct behaviors. Currently, I use the convergent signaling molecule cyclic AMP to study this, but in the past I have also used G protein-coupled receptors.

Sentinel cells for genetic encoded responses to pathogens
Current therapies targeting viral and microbial pathogens rely on systemically administered treatments with profound potential for off-target effects. With our 'sentinel cells', we propose a model that has shown considerable target in treating blood cancers, where engineered cells can sense and respond to pathogenic threats locally and intelligently. Using SARS-CoV-2 as a model pathogen, we demonstrate that sentinel cells can detect infected cells, and respond with customized genetic programs. These sentinel cells have potential as both antipathogen therapies as well as in novel drug and therapeutic development.
Endocytic dwell time of the µ opioid receptor regulates signaling in a ligand depdenent manner
The µ opiod receptor (µOR) is the target of drugs like morphine and heroin. But it is also the target of chemicals our bodies produce called endorphins. It is poorly understood why morphine is so addictive, but endorphins are not. One difference between how these drugs act on µOR is that morphine causes the receptor to be taken up into the cell very quickly after it interacts with the drug. I discovered that the slower this uptake occurs, the more signaling is produced from the MAPK signaling pathway. This signaling difference might contribute to the ways in which endogenous opioids have different effects comapred to exogenous ones.


PhD in Biological Sciences

2013 - 2017
Advisor: Manojkumar A. Puthenveedu
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA

BA in Psychology

2007 - 2011
Advisor: Paul J. Currie
Reed College, Portland OR

Research & Work Experiences

Postdoctoral Scholar

2020 - Present
El-Samad Lab, University California San Francisco, San Francisco CA
  • Synthetic biology approaches to sensing and manipulating cell signaling

Postdoctoral Scholar

2017 - 2019
Puthenveedu Lab, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI
  • Developed technique for measuring GPCR exocytosis using live cell microscopy, and automated image analysis with machine learning deployed in MATLAB and Python.
  • Collected live cell imaging data for 2 collaborators, and trained a collaborator to perform microscopy experiments
  • Significant mentorship of 5 PhD, 1 Masters, and 3 Undergraduate students

PhD Candidate

2013 - 2017
Puthenveedu Lab, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA
  • Demonstrated that opioid receptors signal from endocytic domains after activation using total internal fluorescence microscopy, fluorescent biosensors, automated image analysis in ImageJ and MATLAB, and immunoblotting
  • Discovered distinct protein mediators of adrenergic receptor endocytosis and signaling

IT Resident

2011 - 2013
Google Inc., Mountain View CA
  • Tech support generalist – Hardware, Networking, macOS, Windows, and Linux
  • Provided excellent customer service as recognized by peer bonus system 40 times
  • Operations rotation with corporate infrastructure SRE – automated server provisioning, maintenance, and monitoring using shell scripting, Python, and Ganeti
  • Communicated technical issues throughout the support organization through drafting and editing of regular newsletter and technical explainers