We are interested in understanding the genetic basis of heritable behavioral variation. In the current age, it has become cheap and easy to catalog the set of genetic differences between two individuals. But which genetic differences are responsible for generating differences in innate behaviors, including liability to neurological diseases such as autism, bipolar disease, and schizophrenia? How do these causative genetic variants modify a nervous system? Besides their role in disease, genetic variation is the substrate for natural selection. To understand how behavior evolves, we must understand how it varies.
post-translational modifications, protein mass spectrometry, cell signaling
My lab integrates mass spectrometry and experimental cell biology using the yeast model system to understand how networks of coordinated PTMs modulate biological function. Now well into the era of genomics and proteomics, it is widely appreciated that understanding individual genes or proteins, although necessary, is often not sufficient to explain the complex behavior observed in living organisms. Indeed, placing context on the dynamic network of relationships that exist between multiple proteins is now one of the greatest challenges in Biology. Post-translational modifications (PTMs, e.g. phosphorylation, ubiquitination and over 200 others), which can be readily quantified by mass spectrometry (MS), often mediate these dynamic relationships through enhancement or disruption of binding and/or catalytic properties that can result in changes in protein specificity, stability, or cellular localization. We use a combination of tools including quantitative mass spectrometry, yeast genetics, dose-response assays, in vitro biochemistry, and microscopy to explore testable systems-level hypotheses. My current research interests can be grouped into four main categories: (1) coordinated PTM-based regulation of dynamic signaling complexes, (2) cross-pathway coordination by PTMs, (3) PTM networks in stress adaptation, and (4) technology development for rapid PTM network detection.
Ecology and genome evolution of marine bacteria. Our lab is particularly interested in how microbial diversity and metabolism are structured by environmental gradients, notably dissolved oxygen concentration in the ocean, as well as by interactions with other organisms through symbiosis.
Major transitions in evolution (mainly multicellularity). The evolution of cooperation. Bet hedging / evolution in fluctuating environments. The evolution of aging. Life cycle evolution. Origin of multicellular development.
Applied research and device development targeting the increased heath and function of persons with disabilities. Specific areas of interest include: wheeled mobility and seating, pressure ulcer prevention and treatment; design of diagnostic tissue interrogation devices; design of assistive technology.
Dr. Chang is the director of the Comparative Neuromechanics Laboratory in the School of Applied Physiology. His research program focuses on trying to understand how animals move through and interact with their environment. He integrates approaches and techniques from both biomechanics and neurophysiology to elucidate both passive mechanical and active neural mechanisms that control limbed locomotion in humans and other terrestrial vertebrates. This multidisciplinary approach allows him to test hypotheses about the basic design and function of the locomotor apparatus throughout a variety of conditions. His current goal is to understand the extent to which muscular reflexes can influence limb coordination during locomotion and how global limb control strategies may be affected by sensorimotor perturbations.
Neuroscience Biomechanics Neural control of movement Locomotion Reaching Rehabilitation
The major research focus of my research is on biomechanics and motor control of locomotion and reaching movements in normal as well as in neurological and musculoskeletal pathological conditions. In particular, we study the mechanisms of sensorimotor adaptation to novel motor task requirements caused by visual impairament, peripheral nerve or spinal cord injury, and amputation. We also investigate how motor practice and sensory information affect selections of adaptive motor strategies.