Awarded in 2016
Home Department: Genetics
Faculty Advisors: Hunter Fraser (Biology) and Sergiu Pasca (Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences)
Research Title: Exploring gene regulatory evolution in the human brain
Research Description: What makes humans unique? Perhaps our most striking feature is our capacity to develop advanced societies, cultures and communication—all made possible through the evolution of the human brain. To understand the evolutionary forces that have shaped the human neural identity, Rachel uses stem cell models of human and chimpanzee brain development. By comparing human and chimp gene expression levels in neural cell types in vitro, she aims to identify signatures of selection on particular developmental pathways and to determine the molecular events that have allowed for human-specific cognitive evolution.
Rachel is an Application Scientist at Namocell, a start-up that builds instruments for fast and precise cell sorting and distributing.