Tim Stearns's research focuses on cell biology, particularly the microtubule cytoskeleton, a dynamic network of filaments and associated motors and organizing factors found in all eukaryotic cells. He will create a program that will train undergraduates to be the next generation of leaders in biological research through close interaction with faculty members in course work, research, and advising.
Understanding Human Genetic Variation
The goal of the summer project will be to use our yeast assay system to study genetic variation in one or more human genes. We will choose genes for which there is a yeast ortholog of the human gene, then replace the yeast gene with the human gene, creating a "humanized" strain specific for that gene. The known sequence variants will then be expressed in yeast, derived either from the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) database or from recently sequenced cancer genomes. The panel of strains will then be assessed for parameters of growth and physiology, which we have found to be sensitive indicators of gene function.