Where are you from and what do you enjoy most about your hometown?
I’m from the west coast; I mostly grew up in the San Francisco area, but I lived much of my life in Oregon and a bit in Tahoe as well. I love the space that is devoted to nature and recreation out there. There’s such a diversity of outdoor activities in close proximity, and there’s a much greater tree:person ratio.
What is your research focused on?
Our lab studies how common metabolic derangements lead to diabetes and fatty liver disease. We focus on liver biology as lens for metabolic regulation, and we are trying to understand how the liver structure supports in function. I’m trying to understand how specific nutrients cause cellular dysfunction, and how that leads to disease progression.
What is your favorite part of your research?
I like figuring out how things work. Taking things apart and putting them back together was always a fun activity for me as kid. Now, I get to apply that thinking and curiosity to biology to identify how the human body is supposed to work and what goes wrong in disease. I like thinking about how the body maintains balance, and what happens when specific nutrients throw off this balance.
How do you relax when you’re not working?
I have quite a few hobbies. I enjoy many types of games and challenges of strategy and critical thinking. I enjoy being outside; I love hiking, camping, and backpacking, and I’m an avid skier in the winter. I also have a long-standing interest in frisbee. I played Ultimate Frisbee on the competitive stage for a few years, and I coached the Harvard B team early in grad school. Lately, I’ve transitioned those pursuits into disc golf, as it works with a more flexible (chaotic) schedule.
Tell us about an activity outside of lab you’re involved in and why it’s important
The last few years I’ve been volunteering as a mentor with Genes in Space (GiS). This is an annual competition for high school students to submit research proposals that address something to do with space and biology (such as, how does microgravity impair the cardiovascular system). The winning proposal every year is conducted abord the ISS! I like being a part of it because it encourages young people to get creative and push the boundaries of possibility.