Cnidofest 2022 Confirmed Speakers


Mansi Srivastava (Harvard University)

Mansi Strivastava

Dr. Srivastava received her A.B. in Biological Sciences from Mount Holyoke College, where she became fascinated by the process of regeneration and wrote her honors thesis on regeneration in segmented worms. She studied animal evolution using comparative genomics for her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley. Her thesis research included work on two cnidarians, Nematostella and Hydra. For her postdoctoral training at the Whitehead Institute/MIT, Dr. Srivastava returned to her interest in regeneration and developed the acoel Hofstenia miamia, a.k.a. the three-banded panther, worm as a new research organism for studying the evolution of regeneration. In 2015, Dr. Srivastava joined the faculty of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and became a Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Her research group uses panther worms to develop new approaches for studying both the mechanisms and evolution of regeneration.

Technology Speakers

Diego Calderon (University of Washington)

Diego Calderon

Single cell technologies are a powerful new means to study metazoan development, enabling comprehensive surveys of cellular diversity at profiled timepoints, and shedding light on the dynamics of regulatory element activity and gene expression changes during the in vivo emergence of each cell type. However, nearly all such atlases of embryogenesis remain limited by sampling density, i.e. the number of discrete time points at which individual embryos are harvested. Given the rapidity with which molecular and cellular programs unfold, this limits the resolution at which regulatory transitions can be characterized. Dr. Calderon will report a continuous, single cell atlas of chromatin accessibility and gene expression that spans Drosophila embryogenesis, which in total includes nearly one million chromatin accessibility and half a million expression nuclei profiles from embryos collected in eleven tightly staged, overlapping windows. Leveraging the asynchronicity of embryos within each collection, Dr. Calderon and his colleagues developed a statistical model to estimate the age of each nucleus more precisely, resulting in continuous views of molecular and cellular transitions throughout embryonic development. Looking forward, this strategy may facilitate future investigations of in vivo gene regulation throughout embryogenesis at arbitrarily high temporal resolution in other model organisms.

Anupama Hemalatha (Yale University)

Anapuma Hemalatha

Dr. Hemalatha’s graduate training was at the intersection of cell biology and developmental biology. During her PhD, she studied how multiple endocytic pathways co-regulate and add nuance to the Wingless- signaling pathway in Drosophila wing discs. This sparked her interest in how intersecting complex growth signaling pathways are deciphered per cell to result in cell behaviors in a tissue-specific coordinated manner. Energy metabolism is one such hub that integrates growth signals and directs cell behaviors like proliferation and differentiation. In her talk, she will highlight the technical advances in imaging the skin of live mice pioneered by the Greco Lab and the adaptations that enable tracking of cellular metabolic state, in the skin stem cells over time. Using optical redox imaging to monitor endogenous fluorescence of metabolites NAD(P)H and FAD, she has observed early changes in the redox state of skin stem cell layer in the presence of oncogenic mutations. This imaging modality enables her to track the subsequent metabolic adaptations at the mutant-wild-type cell interface as homoeostasis is re-established.

James Letts (UC Davis)

James Letts

Dr. Letts is interested in understanding the mechanism of electron transport membrane proteins, a varied class of enzymes essential for energy transduction and cellular defense/signaling. Research in his lab spans both the basic biology of these enzymes employing multiple model organisms and translational applications to human health and disease. The major methods employed by the Letts Lab involve developing strategies for the extraction and stabilization of large membrane protein complexes followed by their functional and structural characterization. Specifically the Letts Lab is using single particle cryoEM to push the boundaries of what can be achieved from limited (low abundance) samples and pioneering a “bottom-up” structural proteomics approach to explore the diversity of eukaryotic mitochondrial bioenergetics. These approached have led to the first structures of mitochondrial respiratory complexes from plants and ciliates which revealed both universally conserved and divergent aspects of this core metabolic process.