Speaker profiles

Head of a Dugesia japonica planaria flatworm with the visual neurons originating from the eyes, stained using an antibody against arrestin. Images taken by Johanna Bischof, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University.

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Emily Bates

Emily Bates and her students use genetics to gain insights into how cells communicate with each other to become an organized multicellular organism. We became interested in how ion channels impact morphological development because of the human birth defects associated with mutations that disrupt ion channels. We use fruit fly and mouse genetics to understand how ion channels impact morphological development.

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Wendy Beane

Wendy Beane completed her Ph.D. with David McClay at Duke University, where she studied the gene regulatory networks controlling pattern formation during sea urchin gastrulation. As an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University, she applies this background in morphogenesis to elucidating how stem cell activity is coordinated to initiate and re-establish animal shape during regeneration.

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Laura Borodinsky

Laura Borodinsky is a Professor at the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology, University of California Davis School of Medicine and an Investigator at the Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California. Her group's research focuses on nervous system development and regeneration, with an emphasis on identifying activity-dependent signaling mechanisms.

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Cynthia Bradham

Cynthia Bradham obtained her PhD from UNC Chapel Hill and did postdoctoral work with Dave McClay at Duke University. Her lab at Boston University focuses on pattern formation during embryonic development, with foci on the dorsal-ventral axis and skeletal patterning.

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Maya Emmons-Bell

Maya Emmons-Bell received her B.S. in biology from Tufts University, where she studied regenerative biology in the lab of Dr. Michael Levin. She is now a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, supervised by Dr. Iswar Hariharan. Her thesis research investigates the role of membrane potential in the growth and patterning of larval tissues in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

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Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris completed his PhD in developmental Biology at the University of Wisconsin Madison and then joined the lab of Christiane Nuesslein-Volhard at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. In 2010, he joined the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and in Orthopaedics at Boston Children’s Hospital, where his group has continued to explore the genetic basis of skeletogenesis and the evolution of developmental mechanisms.

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Xi Huang

Xi Huang is a scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Molecular Genetics at University of Toronto. Using bioinformatics, Drosophila genetics, mouse genetics, xenograft modeling of human brain tumors, cell biology, and electrophysiology, the Huang lab decodes the functions of ion channels in brain tumor initiation, progression, metastasis, and recurrence, and they also develop ion channel-targeting drugs as novel cancer therapeutics.

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Michael Levin

Michael Levin attended Tufts University, where he received dual B.S. degrees, in CS and in Biology. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University for the first characterization of the molecular-genetic mechanisms that allow embryos to form consistently left-right asymmetric body structures in a universe that does not macroscopically distinguish left from right (1992-1996); this work is on Nature's list of '100 Milestones of Developmental Biology of the Century'.

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Kelly McLaughlin

Kelly McLaughlin received her B.S. in Biology from Wheaton College, and her Ph.D. (1996) in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) for her work examining the underlying mechanisms regulating programmed cell death during the development of the immune system.

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Harry McNamara

Harry McNamara received a BA from Yale in Physics and Ethics, Politics, and Economics; an MPhil from Cambridge in Nanotechnology Enterprise as a Gates Cambridge Scholar; and an MSc from Trinity College Dublin in Bioengineering as a George J. Mitchell Scholar. He is currently a PhD candidate in Physics at Harvard supervised by Adam Cohen. His thesis research combines optogenetics and synthetic biology to explore pattern formation in complex biological systems.

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Nestor Oviedo

Néstor J. Oviedo is an Associate professor in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of California, Merced. During his postdoctoral training, Professor Oviedo identified molecular players essential for cell-cell communication between stem cells and their surrounding microenvironment. This cellular communication mechanism is highly conserved among metazoans and is critical for bioelectrical signal controlling stem cell behavior in the adult body.

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Vaibhav Pai

Pai received his B.Sc. in Microbiology and M.Sc. in Biophysics from University of Mumbai and his PhD in Systems biology and Physiology from University of Cincinnati, studying role of serotonin and transepithelial electrical resistance across mammary epithelial cells during mammary gland development and breast cancer. He currently works on understanding how ion fluxes and membrane voltage patterns within somatic cells control embryonic organ development, regeneration, and repair.

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Richard Smith

Richard Smith completed his cotutelle PhD in neurobiology at the University of Maryland and University Pierre & Marie Currie, Paris. In 2015, he joined the Walsh Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital in the Division of Genetics and Genomic, and Harvard Medical School, where his primary research interests include contributions of cellular excitability proteins to cerebral cortex development. His recent work highlights the function of a sodium channel subtype (SCN3A) in cortex folding.

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Min Zhao

Min Zhao is a Professor at Department of Dermatology and Department of Ophthalmology, University of California Davis, School of Medicine. His research focus is electrical signaling in cell migration in wound healing and regeneration.