We welcome three new lab groups that in the past year have begun to maintain Sciara for their research. These groups are led by:
Jack Bateman (genetics; Bowdoin College) – he is the Samuel S. Butcher Associate Professor in the Natural Sciences at Bowdoin, having just been promoted and granted tenure. Jack obtained his undergraduate degree from Dalhousie University and his Ph.D. (with David Van Vactor) and postdoctoral training (with Chao-ting Wu) at Harvard. Jack is especially interested in how physical interactions between chromosomes can influence gene expression and the potential role of non-coding RNAs. In this regard, he has initiated research on the controlling element that is embedded within the repeats of rRNA genes on the X chromosome of Sciara and regulates non-disjunction of the X dyad in Sciara male meiosis II and subsequent elimination of one or two X chromosomes in early embryonic cleavage divisions. More broadly, Jack is interested in the molecular mechanisms governing the fascinating sex determination system employed by Sciara coprophila. His preliminary studies along with recent published work from Lucas Sánchez and colleagues (Ruiz et al. 2015) have shown that the Sciara doublesex homolog follows an unconventional pattern of splicing, suggesting a unique mechanism for sex determination relative to other characterized insect species. Jack has several undergraduates engaged in his research. In 2014 he won a prestigious NSF CAREER award for junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars though outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. Jack is also a co-founder of the Personal Genetics Education Project, which raises public awareness about the ethical, legal, and social issues around personal genome sequencing.
Michael Foulk (genomics; Mercyhurst University) – is an Assistant Professor (tenure-track), having begun his independent lab a year ago. He was an undergraduate at Augustana College, and obtained his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training in the Gerbi lab at Brown University where he was subsequently appointed as an Instructor. From his time at Brown, he has several years of experience working with Sciara, including his demonstration that injection of the steroid hormone ecdysone into young larvae prematurely induces DNA puff amplification. His current research focuses on the Sciara genome and he has some undergraduates in his lab doing FISH on Sciara polytene chromosomes to provide physical anchors for the genomic sequence.
Yukiko Yamashita (cell and developmental biology; University of Michigan) – is a recently tenured Associate Professor and the James P. McMurrich Collegiate Professor of the Life Sciences. Additionally, in 2014 she was appointed as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Yukiko obtained her B.S. and Ph.D. from Kyoto University and did postdoctoral training at Stanford (with Margaret Fuller). Yukiko’s research revolves around the question: When stem cells divide, what determines which daughter cell will remain a stem cell and which will differentiate into another tissue type? Also, she carries out research on (i) the unique regulation of centrosomes to divide asymmetrically and (ii) non-random sister chromatid segregation during germline stem cell division. In addition to using Drosophila to address these research questions, Yukiko is also exploring the asymmetric cell divisions in Sciara male meiosis as a powerful model system for her research program. Her finding that the mother centrosome stays with the stem cell daughter in Drosophila male germline stem cells may be further elucidated by study of the monopolar (single centrosome) division in Sciara male meiosis I. Yukiko has written: “this is not a strange phenomenon unique to Sciara, instead it is just an exaggerated form of fundamental cell/developmental biological process, sharing lots of common characteristics with much broader range of organisms.” Yukiko has published her research findings in top journals including three articles in Nature and two in Science. She has received several honors and awards for her research, including March of Dimes, Basil O'Conner Starter Scholar Award; Searle Scholar; Women in Cell Biology (WICB) Career Recognition Award (the Junior Award) from the American Society for Cell Biology; MacArthur Foundation Award; Keck Foundation Award; and the University of Michigan Medical School Dean's Basic Science Research Award.