►Where are you from originally, and where did you go to school?
That is a hard question – I am the daughter of Marine, so we moved every couple of years, so I am not really from anywhere – maybe the east coast of the US.
Undergrad: Florida State University & FAMU
Graduate (PhD): Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University (I apparently like to go to joint school programs)
►What is your current position?
Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
►Why did you decide to become a researcher?
I am fascinated by the discovery process and have a lifelong love of learning. Being a scientist allows me to be creative but in a way that channels that energy into productive output while doing something that is hopefully good for humanity.
►What is the “Big Picture” of what you study?
Overall, I am driven by the desire to help develop an approach that permits the long-term survival of transplanted beta cells in a person with type 1 diabetes. As a multi-faceted problem, my lab works on developing multi-faceted implants for housing these cells in the body. We also apply our engineering skills in the development of benchtop tools that will help us study beta cells outside of the body. The goal of these “islet-on-a-chip” platforms is to not only study the beta cells, but to learn how immune cells recognize and kill the beta cells. It is the hope that these platforms can then be used as efficient and predictive models for screening agents that can either stop the progression of diabetes or improve cell replacement therapies.
►What is your favorite aspect of your research?
Working I really enjoy working as a part of multi-disciplinary teams, where researchers from all disciplines are collaboratively working towards a common goal of helping people with T1D. I also love that I get to go to work each day with amazing students and researchers and try to move the needle forward in treating this disease.
► What do you hope to achieve with your research?
I hope to be a part of the team that helps improve the quality of life of type 1 diabetic by giving them a cell-based option for treating their disease.
►What groups are you involved in?
JDRF, AIMBE, BMES, SfB, TERMIS, and TTS
►When not in the lab what are your favorite hobbies/activities?
I really enjoy going on adventures with my two girls and husband – we enjoy boating and going on trips.