Néva earned a Ph.D. from the University of Washington by examining how different types of neurons develop in the chick spinal cord, which was funded by an HHMI predoctoral fellowship. She also was involved in the Science Education Partnership, which integrates science into the community through outreach activities. As a result of her graduate studies, Néva became interested in the broader question of how nervous systems evolved. She began to address this question as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Elaine Seaver’s lab at Kewalo Marine Lab, University of Hawaii and is continuing this research at Clark University.
Dr. Meyer received a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Purdue University in 1998 and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Washington in 2005.
* photo Photo by Tricia Murata
Allan Carrillo-Baltodano - PhD student
Not too long ago, I sorted my first bowl of marine zooplankton. So many forms, sizes, colors and yeah, so many animal phyla all clumped together there in that small space. Definitely what got my attention from the beginning were the different kinds of marine invertebrate larvae drifting around the water column. Since then, I devoted myself to understanding marine invertebrates in a particular way, through studying their larvae. Years, and a lot of tows, later brought me to Néva’s lab where I will study one of my favorite groups: annelids. Here I will use modern molecular techniques to understand how different traits evolved, such as segmentation of the nervous system or the innervation and control of ciliary bands.
Simona Tolchin – Master’s student
I am very interested in understanding how stem cells make the transition from being undifferentiated precursor cells to differentiated neural cells. I am studying the role of Notch/Delta lateral inhibition and a soxB1 homolog (Ct-soxB1) during this process in Capitella teleta. I am using the gamma-secretase inhibitor DAPT to block Notch signaling and examine the effect on neural development. I am ultimately interested in studying central nervous system regeneration in humans and the effects of this on mental illness. My current work has the potential to strongly connect to human health and development, especially in the realm of mental illness, because C. teleta has the ability to regenerate the majority of its central nervous system.
Michele Corbet – undergrad
Recent research has shown that BMP signaling may act as a short range signal during dorsal-ventral patterning in annelids (Kuo and Weisblat, Curr Biol. 2011). Interestingly, this study demonstrated that Gremlin is the likely BMP antagonist during this process (no chordin homologs have been found in annelids). However, evidence from annelids and enteropneusts also suggests that, BMP signaling does not determine the dorsal-ventral boundary of neural ectoderm. I am currently using exogenous recombinant BMP4 protein to study the effect of BMP signaling on neural fate specification in Capitella teleta.
Lauren Koppel – undergrad
Through multiple avenues of research, I’m seeking to answer the question of whether Capitella teleta have neural stem cells. Utilizing fluorescent microscopy with early C. teleta embryos, I’ve live-imaged animals over time to observe cell growth and movement as neural development proceeds. I’ve also been conducting molecular work, attempting to clone a full-length C. teleta soxB1 gene, a putative stem cell factor expressed during neural development. With the fully cloned gene, I intend to selectively misexpress and/or shut down function of SoxB1 in C. teleta embryos and observe the effect on central nervous system formation.
Rebecca Friedman - undergrad
I am interested in the role of Bone Morphogenic Proteins (BMPs) in the development of the annelid Capitella teleta. In vertebrates, BMPs help pattern the dorsal-ventral axis through a signaling cascade involving BMP serine/threonine kinase receptors and SMAD proteins. I am currently using the drug Dorsomorphin in C. teleta to block BMP signaling. I am also cloning the BMP antagonist gremlin, which interferes with the ability of BMPs to bind to BMP receptors. I hope to study how inhibition or misexpression of Gremlin affects the development of C. teleta.