Meet Our Team

Alakananda Das, Ph.D.

Ph.D.: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Year started in lab: 2016

Project Title:  Studying the relationship between integrins, ion channels and extracellular matrix in C. elegans touch sensation.

Expertise: Worm genome editing, protein structure and function.

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I am interested in studying the molecular basis of how cells sense and interact with their environment. In particular I am studying the process of mechanosensation in worms. I want to work out the molecular details of whether there is a cross-talk between different kinds of cellular mechanoreceptors and the degree of their interdependence.

Sylvia Fechner, Ph.D.

Ph.D.: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University

Year started in lab: 2014

Project Title: Investigating the stoichiometry of the ion channel pore units underlying touch sensation with structural-functional studies

Expertise: Patch-Clamp experiments with tiny cells from sperm to neurons

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As I became really fond of ion channels, I decided to do my PostDoc in the lab of Dr. Miriam Goodman at Stanford. Here, I study the role of ion channels and their stoichiometry in touch receptor neurons of the nematode C. elegans. I use piezoresistive cantilevers to apply controlled mechanical loads combined with the patch-clamp technique to record the neurons’ response (setup name: FALCON). From whole brain recordings, via patch-clamping zebrafish sperm to mechanosensitive neurons in C. elegans, I am curious what the future targets will be. 

Ehsan Rezaei, Ph.D.

Ph.D.: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Year started in lab: 2017

Project Title:  Empirical and Computational Studies of Force Transmission During Touch.

Expertise: Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), micro/nanoscale measurements.

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The importance of touch is evident in our everyday lives, eating and typing are two simple tasks that depend on tactile feedback, yet the physics of touch sensation is not properly understood.  To Study the touch sensation C. elegans with only 6 touch receptor neurons can be an excellent model. Using this animal as model, applying Finite Element (FE) as computational approach, and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) as measurement technique we expect to understand sense of touch in more details.