Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Background

I have nearly 10 years of biomedical research experience, which culminated in a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).  I currently live in the Portland, Oregon area with my husband, Jason, and two young boys, *JR and *Luke (*Names changed to protect children's identity).

At heart, I am a Midwest girl born and bred in rural Illinois.  My journey in science research began at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I earned an undergraduate research fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, studying thalamic brain pathways in the laboratory of Charles "Lee" Cox.  In 2003, I graduated with my B.S. in Molecular and Integrative Physiology and left my midwest roots to set up shop in Portland, Oregon.

As a graduate student at OHSU, I worked in the laboratory of Agnieszka Balkowiec, where I studied how the nervous system pathways that control blood pressure and breathing develop after birth.  As a result of my research, I authored two peer-reviewed research papers (see links below), presented at several national scientific meetings, and earned several awards, including a highly competitive research fellowship from the American Heart Association.  In addition, I was even interviewed for TV (my 15 SECONDS of fame!), since my work may some day establish an underlying cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  

Although I am not currently engaged in laboratory research, my literature research endeavors continue. I make it my goal to better understand an equally elegant and complex bodily system, the immune system, because of JR's numerous food allergies (see Our Story).  Currently, I am a faculty member in biology at Portland Community College, where I teach Introductory Biology and Anatomy & Physiology.  It has been refreshing to see the "big picture" after such a narrow focus during my PhD years, and I absolutely enjoy sharing my love and passion for science with others.  It is my hope that through this blog, my passion will translate to a better understanding for all who are dealing with allergic disorders.  I eventually would like to return to the lab where I can be in the trenches of food allergy research, but for now, my life is happily (and crazily) filled to the brim with being an educator and a Mom to JR and Luke.  Also, as most food allergy sufferers and parents already know, part-time cook is included in my list of many "talents."  For the moment, our kitchen is my laboratory :).  Happy reading!

My peer-reviewed, first author publications:

1)  Neuroscience. 2012 Apr 5;207:333-46. Epub 2012 Jan 18.Glia determine the course of brain-derived neurotrophic factor-mediated dendritogenesis and provide a soluble inhibitory cue to dendritic growth in the brainstem.
Martin JLBrown ALBalkowiec A.

2)  J Neurochem. 2009 Jan;108(2):450-64. Epub 2008 Nov 29.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor in arterial baroreceptor pathways: implications for activity-dependent plasticity at baroafferent synapses.
Martin JLJenkins VKHsieh HYBalkowiec A.


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