St. Olaf College, B.A., 1982
Cornell University, Ph.D., 1991
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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.
Benedict, L. A., Champlin, D. T., and Pence, H. E. 2013. Exploring Transmedia: the Rip-Mix-Learn classroom. Journal of Chemical Education. 90, 1172-1176.