SURF

Alyson Cook

Genetic Control of Development and Evolution in the Three Spine Stickeback Skeleton

The vertebrate skeleton has undergone extensive evolutionary adaption to a wide variety of environments. The precise molecular mechanisms that led to this vast variation are not fully understood. The three spine stickleback fish provides a model organism in which to study these mechanisms. Populations of stickleback colonized newly formed freshwater lakes and streams at the end of the last ice age and repeatedly evolved numerous skeletal adaptations, including lengthening of certain groups of bones. My project will investigate possible genetic and developmental mechanisms that led to this observed variation in bone length. I will be comparing expression patterns of important bone development genes between marine and freshwater populations and searching for regions of the genome that control the increased bone lengths. The results of this project will provide a further understanding of the molecular regulation of the development and evolution of the vertebrate skeleton.

Message to Sponsor

I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to engage in full time research over this summer without the additional obligations of work or classes. This SURF/Rose Hills fellowship will help me to complete an honors thesis project in my department next spring. This project will challenge me to design, execute, and interpret experiments in genetics and developmental biology. As I plan to enter a Ph.D. program in developmental biology after receiving my bachelor's degree, I believe that this experience will significantly contribute to preparation for my career as a scientist.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
  • Mentor: Craig Miller, Molecular and Cell Biology