Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Professor of Biology
DNA repair is a ubiquitous, "housekeeping" process that occurs in all types of organisms and is now recognized as being intimately tied with basic cellular mechanisms such as DNA replication, transcription, and regulation of the cell cycle. In my lab, we used the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or bakers' yeast, to investigate mechanisms of spontaneous genetic changes in cells and their relationship to DNA repair systems. We worked with mutant alleles of the genes MMS9, MMS13, MMS21, and RAD3 that confer elevated rates of spontaneous mutation and mitotic recombination. These characteristics are of interest because cells in higher organisms that had these properties would be highly likely to become transformed into cancer cells. Our overall goal was to understand how cells normally avoid spontaneous genetic changes and how they can become altered in such a way as to accumulate them.
Some spontaneous mutants: the orange tabby cat with a black spot on his head.
The white morning glory on a plant with otherwise blue flowers.
Both are examples of somatic mutations.
The coccidial protozoan parasite Cryptosporidium parvum is an important public health threat around the world, causing diarrheal disease that is unpleasant in healthy individuals, but can be severely debilitating or even fatal in newborns, the elderly, and immunosuppressed or immunocompromised individuals. This organism cannot be grown through a complete life cycle in culture and is not tractable by genetic methods. In collaboration with the late Dr. Steve Upton, our labs began molecular analysis of genes of C. parvum, in hopes of better understanding mechanisms of infection and pathogenesis by this organism and in studying its capability for DNA repair.
Publications in this area
I've worked with others to develop instructional activities for high school and college biology classes making use of the yeast system and its collection of DNA repair mutants. This started out as the GENE project, in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Manney, Professor Emeritus of Physics at K-State, and has been continued under the auspices of the NSF-funded Research Link 2000 program. The GENE Project homepage Research Link 2000 yeast homepage
With support from the National Science Foundation, several K-State women faculty members and administrators created the Girls Researching Our World (GROW) Program in 1999. This effort is made possible through a network of University faculty, staff, and students, K-12 teachers, and scientists and engineers working in governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and Kansas industries. GROW offers a series of on-campus events during the summer and academic year with the goal of encouraging the interests of middle-school girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). GROW became institutionalized as part of the Women in Engineering and Science Program in 2006 and became part of KAWSE in 2011. GROW Program homepage
In 2003, K-State was awarded a $3.5 million NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant to improve the recruitment, retention, and success of women faculty members in the sciences and engineering. I was co-Principal Investigator on this project and a member of the project Executive Committee. ADVANCE is now part of the KAWSE program. ADVANCE homepage
In 2011, K-State combined the Women in Engineering and Science Program (serving middle and high school girls and university women) and the ADVANCE Program (dedicated to supporting women faculty in the sciences and engineering) into one new office reporting to the Senior Vice Provost called the K-State Office of Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering (KAWSE). I am a member of the KAWSE Steering Committee.
The Collaborative for Outreach, Recruitment, and Education in STEM (CORES) was created in 2006 to bring together programs with the common goal of increasing participation in STEM disciplines by women and individuals from groups historically underrepresented in these fields. CORES homepage
These projects, created in 2008 in collaboration with Dr. Lisa C. Freeman, now of Northern Illinois University, are intended to create a pipeline to recruit students, particularly those from underrepresented minority groups, into public health careers as broadly defined and to promote knowledge of the One Health concept from K-12 through undergraduate and graduate education, as well as among the public health workforce. One Health Kansas homepage
No current assignments; occasional guest lectures in BIOL 303, 310, and 705.
The Tortie Terror Tag Team, illustrating multiple genetic principles: X-chromosome linkage and inactivation (orange and black coat color alleles) and variable expressivity (white piebald spotting).
Contact me by email at email@example.com; phone at (785) 532-6900 (Deans' Office); snail-mail -- College of Arts & Sciences Deans' Office, Eisenhower Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-1005.
Last updated: 9-13-2011