If the genome is an instruction manual, it is partially an instruction manual for self-destruction. In fact, large genomes have more instructions for genomic cancer than they do for genomic integrity in that they are dominated by so-called selfish genetic elements, transposons and tandem repeats that have the potential to accumulate out of control if not kept strictly repressed by chromatin modifications and surveillance mechanisms. I study heterochromatin, the form of chromatin that keeps such genetic elements repressed. I also study centromeres, which provide the chromatin foundation for kinetochores and are thus essential for genome integrity but are themselves composed of repetitive DNA that threatens genomic integrity. My model organisms are maize and rice, and my experimental methods include chromatin immunoprecipitation, small RNA sequencing, whole genome bisulfite sequencing, and all the bioinformatics that come of them.
Ph.D. Genetics, Stanford University 2010
B.S. Biology, Humboldt State University 2004
A.A. Natural Science/Mathematics, College of the Redwoods 2002