People

Principal Investigator


Dr. Lillian Fritz-Laylin

Contact

Email: lfritz-laylin@bio.umass.edu

Office: 330 Morrill II South

About

I am an evolutionary cell biologist, coupling comparative genomics with modern cell biology to discover core molecules and mechanisms required for cell motility. I work with a number of eukaryotic organisms, from free living amoebae to flagellated fungi, as well as human neutrophils. Fun stuff!

Education

B.A. Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Ph.D. Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Postdoc Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, University of California San Francisco

Research Fellows


Sarah Prostak

About

I am a research fellow in the Fritz-Laylin lab interested in how pathogens move and infect their host. I am continuing my work investigating actin structures and actin-based motility in the frog parasite Batrachochytirum dendrobatidis. Understanding the cell biology of this organism may help save our amphibious friends, something I'm super excited to be a part of.

Education

B.S. Biology, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Postdocs


Dr. Andrew Kennard

Contact

Phone: Twitter: @askennard

Email: akennard@umass.edu

About

I am a postdoc in the Fritz-Laylin lab, interested in the self-organization of cytoskeletal structures. I am investigating the mechanisms giving rise to the distinct architecture of the mitotic spindle in the amoeboflagellate Naegleria gruberi, which may also shed light on its pathogenic relative, Naegleria fowleri. I am also interested in the ecological niche of amoebae, and how amoebae navigate through complex environments.

Education

A.B. Chemical and Physical Biology, Harvard College
M.Phil. Physics, University of Cambridge
Ph.D. Biophysics, Stanford University



Dr. Katrina Velle

Contact

Phone: Twitter @KatrinaVelle

Email: kvelle@umass.edu

About

I am a postdoc in the Fritz-Laylin lab, and I'm interested in cytoskeletal dynamics as well as mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis. I am investigating actin-based protrusions underlying motility and phagocytosis in the non-pathogenic freshwater amoeba Naegleria gruberi as a model for the brain-eating amoeba, N. fowleri.

Education

B.A. Biology, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

Ph.D. Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut



Dr. Andrew Swafford

Contact

Phone: Twitter @Swafford_AJ

Email: aswafford@umass.edu

About

I am a postdoc in the Fritz-Laylin lab and I’m interested in the origins and evolution of behavior as an emergent property of motor and sensory systems. I am investigating how the molecular mechanisms of cell movement have evolved and subsequently integrated with sensory systems in chytrid fungi, influencing their ecology and pathogenicity.

Education

B.A. Biology, Bowdoin College.
M.A. Bioinformatics and Phylogenetics, University of California Santa Barbara.
Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara.



Dr. Edgar Medina

Contact

Phone: Twitter @mycozoa

Email: emedinatovar@umass.edu

About

I am a postdoc in the Fritz-Laylin Lab. I am interested in understanding the evolutionary changes that fueled the rise of the Fungal kingdom. Chytrids are within the deepest lineages of Fungi and combine ancestral animal-like ciliated “zoospore” cells that swim and crawl with fungal traits like hyphae. During zoospore formation, chytrids undergo morphogenetic transformations akin to animal embryonic development. My research will determine if early fungal morphogenesis exploited the same molecular pathways as animals or represent an evolutionary innovation.

Education

Ph.D. Genetics and Genomics, Duke University, USA
M.Sc. Microbiology, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
B.Sc. Biology, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
B.Sc. Microbiology, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

Graduate Students


Kristyn Robinson

Contact

Phone: Twitter @K_aRobinson

Email: kristynrobin@umass.edu

About

I'm a graduate student with the Molecular and Cellular Biology PhD program. I'm interested in the diversity and evolution of developmental programs. I am currently investigating the intersection of development and pathogenicity using the parasitic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

Education

B.S. Biochemistry, Clemson University

Undergraduate Students


Tati Beckford

About

I am an undergraduate student and intern in the Fritz-Laylin lab. I am a Pre-Med Biology Major here at the university. I hope to continue my education with a focus in Forensics and Virology.


Lab Alumni

About

Where are they now? Mallory Kakley - High school science teacher Jose Alfredo Guzman Lopez - Postdoc at UC Berkley Alena Naritsin - Medical student at St. George's University Shane Hussey - Bioinformatician