My interest in cell biology began during my doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Julie Theriot at Stanford University. As a PhD student, I tackled the problem of understanding how stationary cells polarize and begin to move, looking at the large-scale spatial regulation of actin cytoskeletal dynamics in these cells. After receiving my PhD in 2006, I moved to Montreal to do my first post-doc here in the Charron lab, where I developed a novel in vitro assay for axon guidance and used it to identify a non-canonical Shh signaling pathway for axon guidance. I then joined the lab of Dr. David Colman at the Montreal Neurological Institute in 2008, where I was part of the Neuroengineering group. I used super-resolution microscopy to investigate the distribution of N-cadherin at neuronal synapses. In 2012, I finished my post-doc with Dr. Colman and returned to the Charron lab. I am currently a Research Associate and am pursuing my interest in projects at the interface of neuroscience, quantitative cell biology, and engineering, with a specific focus on axon guidance and Sonic hedgehog signaling.
After completing a classic university course of first cycle, I joined the "Ecole Normale Supérieure-Ulm" of Paris, where I completed a Master degree in Neuroscience co-accredited Paris VI University-UPMC. Since the beginning of my research activity, the field of spinal cord neuronal networks is highly appealing to me as evidenced by my master internship in the laboratory of Dr. Y. De Koninck at Quebec on the study of the synaptic organization of the sensory spinal cord. I continued in the same research field for my Ph.D (MENRT fellowship) in Dr. F. Nagy's lab at Bordeaux where I devoted myself to the study of the plasticity of synaptic connections between dorsal horn neurons, in condition of spinal sensitization to pain. Always in the context of the study of the organization of sensory networks, I chose to realize my postdoc in Dr. F. Charron's lab by selecting a project on the visual system development that fits into an area of research that is both new (developmental biology) and complementary to my previous works on the cellular mechanisms controlling the development of sensory neural networks and the establishment of connections needed to become functional.
I came to Montreal to study Neuroscience as an undergraduate at McGill, and I am now working on a doctoral degree within the program in Neuroengineering. My research interests involve integrating approaches from various fields to better our understanding of how nerve cells grow and can be guided. I have spent my time in the lab so far engineering a new axon guidance assay using microfluidics. I am interested in integrating experimental with theoretical modelling to further the fundamental principles of the field. I will continue my trans-disciplinary education at the frontiers between neurobiology, engineering and computer science.
I completed my BScH at Queen's University in 2010 before starting my PhD in the Charron lab as part of the Developmental Biology program at McGill. Prior to my graduate studies, I worked in the lab of Ian Chin-Sang at Queen's University studying the role of the Eph receptor in PTEN regulation in C. elegans, and briefly in the lab of Joe Culotti at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Using mouse models, I am currently studying mechanisms of axon guidance in the visual system and spinal cord using in vivo and in vitro approaches. I am particularly fascinated by how guidance defects in specific populations of axons during development can lead to specific behavioural phenotypes. I received the NSERC Julie Payette Scholarship in 2010 and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in 2011.
I obtained my medical degree two years ago in Colombia; after that, I worked as an assistant professor of neuroanatomy. I also have some experience in clinical neurophysiology and histology of the nervous system. Currently, I am starting my PhD studies at the McGill University Integrated Program in Neuroscience. One of my intellectual passions is the study of evolution and development; I also spend some time reading philosophy books—I am a declared admirer of Karl Popper. For my thesis work in the Charron Lab, I am studying the role of sonic hedgehog signaling in the progression of medulloblastomas. These tumors are a unique example of how the deregulation of a developmental process leads to cancer.