Loralyn M. Cozy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
B.S. Biology, Western Washington University
Ph.D. Microbiology, Indiana University
NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology
Dr. Cozy is a microbiologist with a research interest in how microorganisms develop
specialized cell types. She uses a cyanobacterium called Anabaena as a model of this process. When times are good, Anabaena grows as filaments of hundreds of vegetative (dividing) cells long. However, when
Anabaena is starved for fixed (bioactive) nitrogen every 10th cell of the filament makes the developmental decision to permanently differentiate
(change) into a specialize cell called a heterocyst. Heterocysts are capable of pulling
atmospheric nitrogen from the air, fixing it into a usable form, and then sharing
it with the rest of the cells in the filament. It is, however, a one-way trip for
a vegetative cell to become a heterocyst. The heterocyst ceases to divide, loses its
ability to do photosynthesis and becomes dependent on the rest of the cells of the
filament for survival. It's an act of microbial altruism.
Several interesting developmental questions arise from this situation:
How does Anabaena ensure that heterocysts are evenly spaced along a filament?
How does an Anabaena cell decide to terminally commit to a heterocyst fate?
How does Anabaena permanently turn off cell division in these specialized cells?
Dr. Cozy’s research uses classical and molecular genetics to find genes that regulate
these processes and uses molecular and microscopic analyses to examine when and where
these genes are expressed during development. She encourages students to engage in
research in her lab and then communicate their findings.
Dr. Cozy teaches
- General Biology (BIOL 101)
- Microbial World (BIOL 110)
- Microbiology (BIOL 314)
- Better Living Through Microbes (BIOL 414)