profile pic


PhD Doctor of Philosophy

Biology of Aging; Sex Differences; X Chromosome; Alzheimer's Disease; Sleep in Learning and Memory

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

The Biology of Aging

Aging is the number one risk factor for a variety of diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and loss of hearing/sight. We are only now beginning to truly understand the process of aging and have even started to uncover ways that we could stop, or potentially reverse, the effects of aging. What are the hallmarks/signs of aging? How do researchers study 'aging'? How does human lifespan and aging compare to the rest of the animal kingdom? Is it possible to stop or reverse the effects of aging? We could explore these questions or brainstorm others you might have about the biology of aging.

Sex Chromosome Biology

As you may have learned in your biology class, sex is inherited by sex chromosomes, with females having XX chromosomes and males having XY. However, did you know that some individuals are born XXY? Or even XYY? Or that some animals, like chickens and fruit flies, have a different system for determining sex? Moreso, you may have learned about X chromosome inactivation, the process by which organisms with multiple X chromosomes randomly inactivate all but one X chromosome in each of their cells. But how do cells determine which X chromosome(s) to inactivate? And what if the some or all of the X chromosome doesn't become inactivated? If any of these questions interest or excite you, this may be the project for you!

Neurodegenerative Diseases

You've probably heard of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Perhaps you've even had a relative and/or loved one diagnosed with such a disease. The diseases of the brain are some of the most complex and difficult to treat illnesses known. How do these illnesses progress and what are their effects on behavior? What genes/genetics may predispose someone to developing this type of disease? Recent evidence suggests that there are certain proteins that play a major role in these illnesses. What are these proteins and how does their disregulation contribute to neurodegeneration? Did you know that men are more likely to develop Parkinson's while women are at higher risk for Alzheimer's disease? What biological factors and mechanisms could underlie or contribute to this observation? This project could focus on any of the above questions, or even a question you may have about neurodegenerative diseases.

The Role of Sleep in Learning and Memory

You've probably been told before to get a good night's rest before an exam or performance. Maybe you've even pulled an all-nighter and felt sluggish or forgetful the next day. But why is sleep so important for these type of activities? In this project, we could explore why sleep is such a crucial function when it comes to things like learning and memory. You could learn about the different parts of the brain that are affected by sleep deprivation, as well as the different types of memories (for example, muscle memory is processed by the brain differently than episodic memories).

Interested in working with expert mentors like Emily?

Apply now