PI. Heather Feaga. I earned my PhD in 2016 from Penn State University, working under the mentorship of Ken Keiler. I discovered that rescue of ribosomes from mRNAs lacking a stop codon is essential in bacteria. Since mitochondria evolved from a bacteria-like progenitor, I then extended these findings to mitochondrial ribosomes in human cells, and found that mitoribosomes are rescued from nonstop messages by a similar mechanism. During my postdoctoral work with Jonathan Dworkin at Columbia University I worked on ribosome dimerization, and determined how dimerization protects the ribosome from degradation during starvation. I have worked with many different organisms including Bacillus subtilis, Caulobacter Crescentus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica. I am fascinated by how diverse bacterial species manage the problem of ribosome quality control in order to face the unique challenges of their lifestyle.
Mentorship and scientific communication are also important to me. I grew up on a dairy farm, attended community college, and worked various jobs to get through school. During my postdoc, I taught nights/weekends at BMCC (an HSI/MSI community college) in NYC. I plan to integrate these values into my research program by developing a lab culture that is inclusive and promotes diversity in STEM.