People

Principal Investigator

Image result for Caroline LaplanteCaroline Laplante, PhD: Laplante trained as a biochemist and obtained her Ph.D. in biology from McGill University. During her doctoral studies, she discovered an essential role for the differential expression of the cellular adhesion protein Echinoid in the polarized assembly of the contractile leading edge in the migrating dorsal epithelium during embryogenesis in Drosophila. Her postdoctoral work challenged commonly accepted notions about the cytokinetic contractile ring essential for cell division in animals, fungi and amoebas. She discovered that not one, but multiple myosins function to generate the forces necessary for cell division and characterized the distinct role of these three myosins during the assembly and constriction of the contractile ring in fission yeast. Laplante adapted high-speed Fluorescence PhotoActivated Light Microscopy (FPALM) to the study of live fission yeast cells. With this technique, she obtained quantitative images of the cytokinetic apparatus at unprecedented resolution. She discovered that cytokinetic protein assemblies called “nodes” are the basic unit of constriction of the contractile ring in fission yeast, and built a molecular model of the protein organization within the node.

 

Postdoctoral Fellows

Sophia Webster, PhD: Sophia graduated with her Ph.D in Entomology with a minor in Genetic Engineering Society in May 2019 from NCSU. She is now a postdoctoral researcher in the Physics department working with Drosophila melanogaster embryos to further understand the origins and roles of tissue biomechanical properties in the developing embryo. Sophia is using confocal microscopy, laser ablation, and hsFPALM to understand how the cytoskeletal architecture affects the mechanical properties of cells and what the differences are in cytoskeletal structures of cells on the dorsal, lateral, and ventral borders of the developing embryo. Sophia is co-advised by Dr. Julio Belmonte, Dr. Mary Elting, Dr. Caroline Laplante, and Dr. Gregory Reeves. Outside of the lab, Sophia enjoys working out, spending time outside, cooking, and DIY home improvement projects.

 

Blake Commer, PhD: Blake graduated with her Ph.D in Plant Pathology in March 2020 from Texas A&M. She is now a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at NCSU. She studies proteins responsible for anchoring the contractile ring in fission yeast. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hanging out with her two dogs and playing fantasy football.

 

 

 

Logan Bowling, PhD: Logan received his PhD from Middle TN State University in May 2020 and joined NCSU in the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences as a postdoctoral scholar in December of that year. He contributes to a collaborative project in the Laplante lab that aims to study the importance of the 3D structure of chromatin in living cells by utilizing fluorescence microscopy. Through a combination of hsFPALM and confocal microscopy, Logan investigates the dynamics of self-interacting regions in chromatin – commonly referred to as TADs – during different stages of the cell cycle and how these interactions may affect gene expression. When not engaged in research, Logan enjoys live music, spending time with his daughter, and watching baseball.

 

Graduate Students

Jessica Martinez-Baird (Genetics Program, PhD student): Jessica got her BS in 2017 in Wildlife Health Science from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. Since graduating, she joined a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to help develop genetic technologies for sustainable bioenergy. She is now a Ph.D student in the Genetics program at NCSU, and a Genetics & Genomics Scholar from the Genetics & Genomics Initiative (GGI) at NCSU. She is excited to join the Laplante lab to research the complex dynamics of cell division proteins and chromatin using super resolution microscopy. When not conducting research, she can be found learning new food recipes, out on a hike with her husband and dog, watching history documentaries, or learning how to knit.

 

Research Staff

Kimberly Bellingham-Johnstun (Research Associate): Kim got her BS in microbiology at Oregon State University before moving to Raleigh, NC and getting her MS in microbiology here at NCSU. In our lab, Kim uses hsFPALM and confocal microscopy to study the molecular architecture of cytokinetic structures, like the actomyosin contractile ring. When not in the lab, she enjoys cooking and going on the occasional run.

 

 

 

Gershom Mathew (Research Assistant): Gershom got his BS in Biomedical Engineering at NCSU in May 2021. Gershom develops code to extract the dynamics of cytokinesis proteins at nanoscale resolution, as well as helping lab members with all their coding needs.

 

 

 

 

Alumni

Annelise Thorn (Laboratory Technician)

Nirav Shah (Research Assistant)

Mohamed Moshtohry (Physics, PhD student, NCSU)

Christina Bruinsma (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

Rachel Szymanski (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

Sarah Hiscocks (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

Casey Anders (Laboratory Technician)

John Ravi (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

Andrew Ford (Applied Mathematics, PhD student, UNC Chapel Hill)