My research has sought to inform the development of Bacterial Toxin-Inspired Drug Delivery (BTIDD) vehicles, whereby we exploit the native cell-entry mechanisms of bacterial toxins to deliver therapeutics into the host cell cytosol. These AB toxins are secreted by bacteria into their extracellular environment during infection and ultimately enter host cells to deliver their cargo into the cytosol. This class of toxins are named for their functional domains: “A” for “activity” and “B” for “binding.” The A domain is the active cargo that is delivered to the cytosol. Our understanding of the B domain has grown to encompass both the cell-binding and translocation functions of the toxin which are required to deliver the A domain into the host cell.
My research has involved (1) assessing the compatibility between delivery vehicle and cargo domains of the cytotoxic necrotizing factor (CNF) toxin family and (2) elucidating the determinant region of these toxins that senses and responds to the endosomal pH environment to trigger translocation of the cargo into the cytosol.
I am a scientific educator, passionate about teaching and learning- actively seeking out innovation and continuously developing my teaching strategies. I am responsible for the coordination and instruction of our foundational biology course laboratories (BIOL 101/102). In this course, students are introduced to the process of science and encouraged to experimentally design and conduct their own research projects. Students learn how to analyze and communicate their results to a wider audience. In addition, the General Biology labs provide students an in-depth study of the physiology and structure of a variety of organisms with additional opportunities to develop dissection skills.
As an educator, my role is not to simply provide information, but rather to facilitate the learning of that information. I utilize active learning strategies and student feedback to create opportunities that will help them learn best. I strive to create an inclusive environment and I am committed to the personal development of my students. My work in teaching and learning has been incredibly fulfilling and I am dedicated to continuing the conversation and advocating for the use of informed and effective teaching methods in higher education.