Biology Department: Jon Schnorr
- B.A. Biology, 1990, University of Chicago
- Ph.D. Genetics, 1997, University of Washington
- Biol 204: General Biology II
- Biol 240: Human Physiology
- Biol 405: Immunology
- Biol 444: Evolution
- Biol 490: Capstone Experience
- Biol 495: Independent Biology Research
My laboratory uses the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to investigate basic questions in the biological sciences. The fruit fly has been intensely studied for more than 90 years and has become one of the most important models systems for the study of biology. It is not that the fruit fly is an important pest; rather, investigations over time have shown that the biological principles discovered in flies often hold true in other systems (like humans). Flies are economical and simple to raise in the lab, and decades of genetic studies have given present day Drosophila biologists many mutant strains, specialized chromosomes, and powerful techniques that simplify answering basic biological questions. Flies have been critical to our increased understanding of development, particularly how animals form their basic body plans(1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine). Flies remain at the forefront of biological research, especially in areas such as signal transduction and neurobiology. In 2000, the entire DNA sequence of the Drosophila Genome became available, adding to the power and efficiency of this model system.
I am interested in identifying the molecules and and understanding the mechanisms that are utilized by cells to communicate with one another. For simplicity, I focus on a cell signaling event that occurs during the development of the fly egg. As eggs develop in the female fly, the oocyte signals to a group of overlying cells, the follicle cells, and this signal ultimately leads to the correct elaboration of the dorsal/ventral and anterior/posterior axes of the eggshell and the future embryo. I am interested in understanding how this signal is correctly generated and received.
Recently, some members of my lab have begun to investigate the genetic component of egg laying behavior in fruit flies. Female flies use various environmental signals to choose a suitable site to deposit their eggs. As many of us have experienced, fruit lying on your kitchen counter will soon fall victim to invading flies. Although some of the olfactory and chemical signals that allow flies to find the fruit have been identified, the process by which flies "decide" whether or not to lays eggs is not well understood. Using genetic methods, we hope to identify genes involved in the decision making process.
Interested in Undergraduate Research?
I have had a number of students conduct research with me during the past three years at Pacific (Abstract List). If you are intersted in working with me, please stop by to talk.