Jennifer L. Ross
Associate Professor of Physics, University of Massachusetts
Ph.D.: University of California, Santa Barbara
Postdoctoral Training: University of Pennsylvania
Microtubules are cytoskeletal filaments that are the main structural element of cells. Alterations to their intrinsic physical properties have large impacts on their cellular function. Since microtubules are the structural component of the mitotic spindle, the axon, and cillia and flagella, their structural properties have a large impact on cell morphology and division. Microtubule structures can be manipulated via assocaited proteins, post-translational modifications, and pharmaceutical drugs.
A second role of microtubules is as the long-range transport track (highway) of the cell. A special subset of associated proteins, called motor proteins can bind to and literally walk along the microtubule. These proteins use ATP as energy to perform this work of transport. They transport vesicles, proteins, organelles, and RNAs around the cell to control their location in time and space very accurately.
My lab is interested in investigating the physics behind the microtubules and motors. We use advanced optical and microscopic techniques to observe single microtubules and motors as they perform their normal functions.