We had barely graduated our first student, Mike, when Krissy went to bat and successfully defend her thesis! We’re thrilled for her and the scientific career she has ahead.

Kristina’s thesis work centered around translation of mRNA into protein in the distal bits of astrocytes, which contact and regulate thousands of synapses. While this phenomenon was known to occur in neurons and other brain cell types, it had never been explored in astrocytes. Kristina’s work proceeded to demonstrate this phenomenon, identify genes that are preferentially trafficked to–and translated in–these distal regions. Her work concluded by exploring one putative regulator of the trafficking and translation of mRNAs that are enriched in these distal synaptic contacts, the Qk RNA binding protein.

We’ll miss Krissy greatly — her Jersey sass and suffer-no-fools attitude were a great (and sometimes necessary) complement to all of the nice, happy-go-lucky Midwesterners we have around. More substantively, Krissy has impeccable work ethic — she only took a half-day off the day after defense. Her technical skill in the lab has been unparalleled–when Joe would express concern about a timeline for a project or the plausibility of something working on the first try, Krissy would reassure him, gesturing at herself, “magic hands.”

Krissy is headed to a post-doc in Cagla Eroglu’s lab at Duke University, which specializes in synapse formation and the role of astrocytes in regulating their formation and stability. Kristina will be studying how neuroligins impact the interaction of astrocytes with synapses, the structure of astrocytes, and the ultimate consequences of these phenomenon on behavior.

We’ll miss you, Krissy. Congratulations!