Cierra Walker
Student
Materials Science and Engineering

In the Anseth and Leinwand Labs, I use hydrogel cell culture platforms to study heart valve fibrosis. The cells responsible for valve fibrosis, fibroblasts, are mechanosensitive. They differentiate to an activated, diseased phenotype in response to stiff substrates. Using dynamic hydrogels where the stiffness can be modulated with light, I’m studying how stiffness plays a role in the progression of valve fibrosis. I use and apply many quantitative techniques I learned during my first years in the IQ Biology program, including next-generation sequencing and image analysis. Additionally, IQ Biology facilitated and encouraged my career as a researcher at the intersect of biology and engineering.

Cierra received a BA in 2013 from Colorado College and majored in Biology. She is rostered in the Materials Science and Engineering Department. She rotated with Dr. Ryan Gill (Chemical and Biological Engineering), Dr. Stephanie Bryant (Chemical and Biological Engineering), and Dr. Kristi Anseth (Chemical and Biological Engineering). Cierra is co-advised by Dr. Kristi Anseth and Dr. Leslie Leinwand.

“Manipulating Fibroblast Mechanical Memory with Phototunable PEG Hydrogels,” TERMIS Annual Meeting, Charlotte, NC, December 2017.

Chi C, Ronai D, Than MT, Walker CJ, Sewell AK, Han M. Nucleotide levels regulate germline proliferation through modulating GLP-1/Notch signaling in C. elegans. Genes Dev. 2016;30(3):307-320. doi:10.1101/gad.275107.115.