I grew up in Metro Detroit and received bachelor of science degrees in Biopsychology & Cognitive Science as well as General Biology from the University of Michigan. It was an intro psychology lecture that sparked my interest in sleep. We learned about a radio DJ named Peter Tripp who did a 201 hour wake-a-thon. He appeared to suffer longterm neurological consequences as a result of the extended sleep deprivation. I became fascinated with the notion that sleep impacts nearly every aspect of our daily lives from molecular processes to behavior. At the end of my senior year, I joined the laboratory of Mark Opp, PhD (now at University of Colorado Boulder) where I had my first experience in a laboratory studying sleep and immune interactions.
Glacier Bay, Alaska | August 2018
I went on to earn my PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan with Dr. Opp researching the role of neurons and astrocytes in sleep and neuroinflammation. Part of this time was spent at the University of Washington after the lab moved in 2010. I made two transgenic mouse lines. Both lines express interleukin-1 receptor 1 (IL1R1) only in central nervous system, but one line selectively expresses IL1R1 on neurons and the other line selectively expresses IL1R1 on astrocytes. I studied sleep in these mice under normal conditions, in response to sleep deprivation, and during immune challenges. Overall, I found that neurons and astrocytes differentially modulate aspects of sleep and immunomodulation under normal and pathological conditions. These studies solidified my love of glia and even earned them a dedication in my dissertation.
Currently, I am doing my postdoctoral research with Marcos Frank, PhD at Washington State University – an expanding hub for the world’s sleep research. I arrived at Dr. Frank’s lab just a few months after his move from the University of Pennsylvania. My studies focus on the role of astrocytes in sleep and sleep homeostasis. I use a variety of genetic tools, electroencephalographic techniques, and imaging methodologies to understand how these cells behave when we are awake, asleep, rested, or sleepy. Determining the role of astrocytes in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness is fundamental to understanding the cellular and molecular basis of normal and disordered sleep.
Along the way I got married and had three awesome kids. My oldest is a 7-year-old, budding neuroscientist who loves to learn “brain stuff” at bedtime. She can even tell you the parts of a neuron! My 4-year-old is the happiest little guy who challenges all of my attempts at achieving good sleep hygiene. My youngest joined us in early 2021, and she thankfully came programed for consolidated sleep! [EDIT: sleep is no longer consolidated at 6 months. Please send coffee.] Outside the lab, I love cooking and crafting. Singing has also been a huge part of my life. I am classically trained and sang in a many different choirs and symphony choruses since childhood. I also love to sing and arrange a cappella music. Think of the movie "Pitch Perfect" - that brand of a cappella. To keep things interesting, I match pitches to random machines like fume hoods and toaster ovens.
Thank you for stopping by, and please reach out! I would be happy to talk more about my research interests, women in STEM, how being a Detroit Lions fan helps me deal with disappointment, or whatever you please. I can be found on Twitter, or I am available through e-mail.