About Dr. Nowotarski
I am a microscopy enthusiast working on Postdoc at the Stowers Institute in Kansas City, MO, where I am diving into the world of planaria, regeneration, and visualization in the Sánchez Lab.
As a Ph.D. student in the Peifer Lab , I was interested in how cells coordinate adhesion among neighbors with individual cytoskeletal rearrangements to allow highly dynamic tissue rearrangements required in normal development and homeostasis. Specifically, I worked in Drosophila on regulation of the actin cytoskeleton by a suite of proteins which modulate actin filament assembly and architecture to produce both cell movement and protrusions required by the cell for probing the local environment. It sounds interesting, but is even more interesting to look at though live confocal microscopy. Check it out here.
After spending time looking at how cells interact in the context of large developmental events, I naturally became interested in wound healing and regeneration. Planaria are excellent models for regeneration, as they are able to regrow missing organs and reestablish their full body plan in about two weeks after being cut in any orientation and in many pieces*. The only problem is that in order to fully understand regeneration, the body plan must be characterized in homeostasis first. Not just at the tissue level, but at a sliding scale – from cellular ultrastructure to cell-cell interactions to tissue-tissue interfaces and geometry/ area relationships in the context of a whole worm. To do this, I am working on a large scale, high resolution, 3D electron micrograph atlas of a whole Schmidtea mediterranea asexual worm. This will be available through an online resource – PLANaria.info (coming soon!). Only then can we move on and start to understand the cellular underpinnings of the great reorganization of regeneration.
*1/279th of worm is the smallest documented piece that can regenerate, determined by Morgan in 1898. (This is about 10,000 cells)
Nights and weekends give the right side of my brain a chance to stretch, making art.