Maulik Patel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
I am fascinated with the genetics, cell biology, and the evolution of mitochondria. Because mitochondria are well-integrated with several aspects of cellular and organismal physiology, it provides an unprecedented opportunity to explore diverse research topics in biology. Given my love for genetics, we started out studying the mitochondrial genome—yes, mitochondria have their own genome! Mutations in this genome are associated with important biological consequences that include inherited diseases, aging, and the evolutionary process of speciation. We continue to address fundamental questions pertaining to the mitochondrial genome in my lab. These include understanding the molecular basis of its copy number control, its epigenetic regulation, the evolutionary forces acting on it, and the cellular mechanisms that govern transmission of mitochondrial mutations through the female germline.
More recently, members in my lab have expanded our work into other critical aspects of mitochondrial biology. This includes uncovering an unexpected link between mitochondrial function and tRNA biology, and revealing a surprising role for germline-to-soma communication in mitochondrial stress. I am excited to continue recruiting talented folks into my lab, and to let their interests and passions lead us into new areas of research.
I am deeply committed to graduate education and am passionate about mentoring. I have developed my own style of mentoring that encourages lab members to chart their own research trajectories, borne from my conviction that all individuals have unique ideas, perspectives, strengths, and talents. Based on the kind and generous nomination by graduate students, my mentoring efforts have been recognized by the Excellence in Mentoring Award from the department.
I greatly enjoy teaching, including an introductory course on cell biology and an exciting course I developed on the principles of human disease.
Fun fact: I am a huge admirer of Dolly Parton! Amongst her many qualities I admire are an indomitably positive outlook and sense of gratitude, self-confidence with humility, importance of commitment, wit and humor, strong work ethic, business savvy, ambition, professionalism, and respect for others.