I grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan and went to high school in Fresno, California. With a couple intervening stints in Germany, I completed undergraduate degrees at the University of California, San Diego, in molecular biology and in European history and doctoral studies at the University of Chicago in cancer biology. I was a postdoctoral fellow and subsequently staff scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California prior to joining Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah near the end of 2015.
In addition to science, I love art, architecture, design, nature, cooking and music (especially Jazz, but really everything from Mozart to Mos Def). What's the common thread? I think it must be my deep fascination with synergy—with heterogeneous parts contributing to a whole that seems greater than their sum. It is a common theme in my approach to research and collaboration, and I think it is why I am so strongly pulled toward the study of biological systems in the first place. I am continually awestruck at their intricacy and elegance. When you add in the thrill of discovery—of seeing something for the first time it's ever been seen and of knowing something new from then on—it's pretty easy to put in the long hours our work sometimes demands. In fact, it can often be difficult to tell whether it is work or play but for its potential impact.
I and my group want to contribute significantly to the fundamental understanding of how complex cellular systems are structured and how individual cells in those systems are fated. We are working toward proximal and long-term impact not only on human knowledge in this area but critically on human health, including cancer treatment and prevention.