I am interested in understanding how the brain gets wired up properly early in embryonic development. Axon guidance is a key step in this process and we are studying the molecular and cellular processes that underlie axon guidance in the visual system. Our studies have revealed that growing axons are guided by specific molecular cues along the pathway by a mechanism that involves the translation of localized mRNAs. Local translation, we have found, is also important for axon survival. A primary goal is to understand this RNA-based mechanism of axon guidance and maintenance and to explore links to neurological disease.
Combining a career in science with family life has not been smooth-sailing but has been rewarding. I married a scientist who shared the child-rearing responsibilities and this was key. He understands the particular challenges that scientists face in their careers so I found that his support was critical to my successfully negotiating some of the major hurdles such as getting grants and tenure. In the early years, we had live-in childcare which enabled me to work full time. When the children were older, we had someone come to our home after school. Weekends and evenings were reserved for family time.