St. Olaf College, B.A., 1982
Cornell University, Ph.D., 1991
My research and teaching interests emphasize the exciting advances modern biology is making toward understanding how animals develop. Until recently, the study of development was called embryology because much of the emphasis is on embryogenesis. But developmental biology reaches far beyond the embryo. For example, it also includes the study of cancer (development gone awry), stem cells, and the reproductive cycles of plants and animals.
In my lab, we use insect metamorphosis as a model to help understand the roles that hormones play in regulating development. The researchers that get the experiments done include graduate students, undergraduates, and high school students. We focus in particular on examining the molecular mechanisms by which hormones regulate gene expression. For example, one of the hormones that controls metamorphosis is a steroid hormone called ecdysteroid. The protein receptor for ecdysteroid is a transcription factor that functions to directly regulate gene transcription, and it does so in a manner very similar to how steroid hormones operate in humans. We have found that during early steps in metamorphosis, low levels of ecdysteroid activate expression of genes involved in growth and patterning of the adult tissues. A current goal of the lab is to determine the molecular mechanism by which ecdysteroid controls cell proliferation. The methods we employ include analysis of gene expression, as well as a variety of immunohistochemical methods for microscopy.
Insect metamorphosis, and developmental biology in general, fascinate people of all ages and backgrounds. I strongly welcome anyone who is interested in these topics to to contact me and make plans to visit us in the lab.
Truman, J.W., Hiruma, K., Allee. J.P., MacWhinnie, S.G.B., Champlin, D.T., and Riddiford, L.M. (2006). Juvenile hormone suppresses the organization and growth of imaginal discs during starvation in insects. Science 312: 1385-1388.
Allee. J.P., Pelletier, C.L., Fergusson, E.K., and Champlin, D.T. (2006). Early events in the development of the adult eye of the moth, Manduca sexta. J. Insect Physiol. 52: 450-460.