Waskiewicz laboratory researchers
Lyndsay Selland, PhD Student
Project: Lyndsay is studying signaling pathways in the developing hindbrain. Her first project investigated the role of Hox genes in regulating Fibroblast Growth Factor and Retinoic Acid pathways. More recently, she has switched her attention to Taz, a transcriptional co-activator in the Hippo signaling pathway and its role in regulating hindbrain boundary signaling centres. Lyndsay is currently creating zebrafish mutants for the entire Hippo signaling pathway in hopes of interrogating functions during hindbrain ventricle morphogenesis.
Sonya Widen, PhD Student
Project: Sonya is studying the mechanisms underlying Coloboma, a birth defect that results when the embryonic ocular fissure fails to close. Her first project was to investigate the functions of WNT signaling in this process (studying both Fzd5 and Sfrp functions). Recently, Sonya has shifted her focus to BMP signaling pathways in cells that surround the eye (periocular mesenchyme), studying the functions of BMP3 as a regulator of cell migration and differentiation.
Kacey Mackowetzky, PhD Student
Project: Kacey is investigating the functions of Retinoic Acid (a vitamin A derivative) during sensory organ formation. Her interests are divided between the functions of Retinoic Acid during photoreceptor differentiation and vestibular system morphogenesis of the inner ear. In addition, Kacey is creating zebrafish lines that lack the retinoid-X-receptor (RXR) to identify the diverse functions of this critical transcription cofactor.
Kevin Yoon, MSc Student
Project: Kevin is investigating a novel blinding birth defect involving aberrant eye morphogenesis. In particular, his interest lies with altered fissure closure. Utilizing exome sequencing of human patients, Kevin has identified two patient variants that represent excellent candidate loci. He is currently using CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis and mRNA over expression to analyze the function of these two genes in zebrafish eye development and determine whether they are likely disease-causing genes.
Sophie Koch, Research Technician
Project: Sophie is investigating Sonic Hedgehog signaling during eye morphogenesis. Her main goal is to test the hypothesis that the dorsal-ventral axis of the vertebrate eye is established by competing BMP and SHH signals. Sophie is also responsible for the lab’s CRISPR generation program and is currently making zebrafish mutants for multiple BMP, FOX, HIPPO, and RA pathway components.