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Taylor M

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Virginia


Cancer biology, cell signaling, systems biology, cancer cell heterogeneity, biomedical engineering


Hello! I am a third-year PhD student studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. I was born and raised in Wisconsin and completed my BS in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. My PhD research is centered on a signaling pathway in breast cancer. Under normal circumstances, the proteins in this pathway work to prevent cancer growth. However, we found that the pathway stops working correctly in some breast cancers. I'm working to figure out how the pathway is normally regulated, what goes wrong in breast cancer, and what it means if only some of the cells in a tumor have a break in this pathway. I have thoroughly enjoyed each one of my teaching and mentoring experiences so far. My goal is always to help students reach their full potential; when students ask me questions, I focus on guiding them to connect the dots between things they already know. This helps students really take ownership of their learning and feel empowered to seek answers to their own questions. I am excited about biology and enjoy sharing that passion with others! Outside of my work, I spend most of my time doing a variety of outdoor activities. I recently hiked to Sahale Glacier in Washington - one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. I enjoy kayaking on local lakes in the summer and downhill skiing in the winter. I also love baking and have a major sweet tooth. :) I look forward to meeting you and working together to learn more about what our cells normally do all day, and what happens when something goes wrong!

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.

How does a cell manage so much information?

Cells in the human body are constantly exposed to so much information - for example, they receive messages sent by nearby cells, they monitor their own progression through the cell cycle, and they check to make sure their DNA, RNA, and proteins are maintained and produced without any mistakes. Proteins involved in "signaling networks" ferry this information throughout the cell, but there are only so many signaling proteins and networks. How does a cell encode complex messages about its status and its environment? When all the signaling proteins are mixed together in the cell cytoplasm, how does it keep all of this information organized? These are some of the questions related to cell signaling and signaling network crosstalk that would serve as excellent inspiration for a review paper focused on a specific topic of interest to you.

Why do cells break?

Every second of every day, the cells in your body are performing millions of tasks to keep you alive and functioning. What systems are in place to ensure that they work correctly so much of the time? What causes them to mess up? What systems are in place to correct errors? What if those systems fail?

Coding skills


Teaching experience

During my PhD, I have been a TA for two undergraduate courses. The first was for a hands-on lab class, where students learned common laboratory techniques such as cell culture, microscopy, cell lysis, and protein quantification via Western Blot. The second was for an introductory biology class, where I guided (virtual) small-group discussions on topics like the DNA replication, cell division, protein translation, receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, cancer, and more. In the lab, I mentor undergraduate students on their very own research projects. I help them design experiments and interpret data to answer exciting research questions.


Work experience

Zimmer Biomet (2018 - 2018)
Scientific Affairs Specialist | Biologics
Cardinal Health (2017 - 2017)
Engineering Intern | Research & Development
Zimmer Biomet (2016 - 2016)
Development Engineering Co-op | Biologics


University of Wisconsin
BS Bachelor of Science (2017)
Biomedical Engineering
University of Virginia
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Biomedical Engineering

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