3141 Chestnut Street
B.S., Biological Engineering, University of Florida, 2006
My research builds upon important concepts I learned while utilizing the Atomic Force Microscope to imagenanoscale domains in model lipid bilayers. The domains are characterized by their high cholesterol content andclose packing of lipids which causes their thickness to be a few nanometers more than the surrounding membrane. In cells, these domains have been termed lipid rafts and specialized lipid rafts are caveolae whichare 50-100 nm invaginations in the membrane. Some proteins prefer this lipid environment and membranethickness causing them to collect in these areas. This leads to enhanced signaling activation and control. We are particularly interested in how changes in membrane cholesterol content can alter this sub-cellular colocalization of nitric oxide signaling molecules in caveolae. Our group recently published modeling of subcellular caveloae localization on calcium signaling which indicated that protein colocalizations and clustering of caveolae can cause high calcium gradients at the plasma membrane surface. These calcium gradients are important for the activation of nitric oxide (NO) signaling molecules localized in caveolae. Our approach focuses on the composition of individual caveolae and spatial distribution which is required for the fine tuned signaling
response. My research also focuses on understanding the mechanisms behind shear stress-induced NO production. NO is a major vasodilator produced by the endothelium at nano to micromolar concentrations. NO release is known to be coupled with shear stress; however, the mechanisms for this coupling are poorly
understood. We believe these cholesterol alterations can affect the nano-scale localization of signaling molecules and lead to pathological conditions such as atherosclerosis. My research project will advance current knowledge about this coupling and protein localizations by utilizing a novel experimental device that I designed
under the guidance of my advisor and co-advisor. My research involves working with an interdisciplinary team with specialties in multiscale experimental and mathematical modeling techniques as it applies to nitric oxide in the vasculature. My career goal is to pursue a career in academia which will involve teaching and conducting research in cellular mechanotransduction and transport phenomena in the area of vascular biology and microcirculation.