Learning biology is similar to learning a foreign language. Before you can have a very interesting conversation, you need to know the vocabulary and grammar. This is what makes learning introductory sciences so difficult for many—until you really own the language of the discipline, it can be hard to think critically about it. So much about learning biology is about learning how to imagine—how to model—invisible objects and complex processes.
I am interested in how science epistemology (the study of knowledge) influences modern thought. Our ideas about what constitutes truth and what kinds of arguments have the most weight are heavily influenced by science. This can be an effective way of establishing reality and best practices, but it can also blind us from other ways of knowing.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
My lab studies the molecular genetics of development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This microscopic worm has proved a fruitful model for understanding basic biological problems. Research students in my lab are studying a gene called fax-1, which is a nuclear receptor gene found in all other animals including humans. We're trying to understand how specific neurons influence insulin signaling to regulate sleep.