Biology

Jennifer Wanat

Assistant Professor of Biology
Education
  • 2007, Cornell University, Ph.D. Genetics, minors in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
  • 2001, University of Rhode Island, B.S. Microbiology, minor in Chemistry

 

Research

My research is currently focused on the molecular bases of aging.

I study how telomeres, the specialized structures at the ends of linear chromosomes, affect meiotic chromosome segregation and cellular senescence. Meiosis is a specialized type of cell division that is a part of sexual reproduction and cellular senescence is a process that prevents a cell from reproducing after it has become too old.

In humans, telomere shortening often accompanies aging, and there is increasing evidence that this shortening impairs tissue function, signals cellular senescence, and may contribute to age-related diseases. It is not well understood how cells signal the presence of a shortened telomere (and senescence), but I am interested in the possibility that non-coding RNA molecules play a role in that signaling. Telomeres also play critical roles in the proper segregation of chromosomes in meiotic cells. In humans, chromosome mis-segregation events during meiosis dramatically increase as we age. And in fact, chromosome mis-segregation is the leading cause of pregnancy loss and genetic disorders in later-life pregnancies. It is possible that the aforementioned telomere signaling may play an important role in the aging of meiotic cells as well.

Since both telomere biology and meiotic chromosome segregation are well conserved from yeast to humans, I primarily use the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) for this research.

Teaching
  • Fall 2017
    • Genetics with lab (BIO 305)
    • Biotechnology and Molecular Biology with lab (BIO 207)
  • Spring 2018
    • Genetics with lab (BIO 305)
    • First Year Seminary - Why do we age?
Professional Experience
  • 2015 - 2017, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Dickinson College
  • 2008 - 2014, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Pennsylvania


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