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Ariana Tkachuk

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I have a B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan where I worked in the lab of Steven R. Meshnick in the School of Public Health, studying Malaria and immunology in pregnancy, and fell in love with molecular biology. I continued my training after graduating in the lab of Maurine R Hobbs at the University of Utah School of Medicine, studying associations between host genetics and severe malaria, where I enhanced my appreciation for the necessity of good, basic biological research. I have worked for David A. Clayton for the last 8+ years, adapting molecular methods to study mtDNA structure and organization with emerging superresolution microscopy techniques.Research FocusOur laboratory has historically studied mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication, transcription, and organization. Currently, we are using superresolution fluorescence microscopy techniques (PALM, iPALM) to image mitochondrial nucleoids to better understand the organization and function of this large nucleo-protein structure. What is the role of the mitochondrial nucleoid? Is the nucleoid composition homogenous, or is it tailored to local needs within a cell? What subset of nucleoids is associated with the inner mitochondrial membrane or with contiguous cytoskeletal structures, where they might be better positioned for intracellular communication? We are most interested in these fundamental questions concerning mitochondrial nucleoid structure, composition, position and protein interaction in vivo. The high spatial resolution provided by PALM provides a unique opportunity in this regard, since the small physical dimensions and extensive compartmentalization of the mitochondria have previously impeded such an analysis.