Kari's interests focus on how environmental demands influence the biomechanics of animal movement, musculoskeletal structure, and physiology.
I earned a B.A. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. During my time at F&M, I spent several years working with Dr. Joseph Thompson looking at muscle physiology and biomechanics in long-finned squid throughout ontogeny. We spent summers at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, ME and used sonomicrometry to measure length changes in the mantle of squid. Interestingly, we observed a gradient of strain across the mantle, indicating that muscle fibers near the inner surface of the mantle are contracting to a greater degree and faster than fibers near the outer surface.
After finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a research technician with Dr. Thompson for a summer before starting a job as a teaching assistant in a 1st-4th grade classroom at the Haven Montessori School in Flagstaff, AZ.
I then pursued an M.S. in Biology at Northern Arizona University under the direction of Dr. Kiisa Nishikawa. During my time at NAU, I also had the privilege of working closely with Dr. Stan Lindstedt. I worked with the muscular dystrophy with myositis (mdm) mouse model, which has a deletion in the gene for the giant muscular spring, titin. My thesis project focused on how the mdm mutation affected thermoregulation. Specifically, I found that the mdm mutants had a lower than expected shivering frequency, which could be explained by a decrease in active muscle stiffness. This work implies that titin may play a role in determining active muscle stiffness in addition to its previously demonstrated contribution to passive stiffness.
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