Giulia Gurun

Giulia Gurun

Assistant Teaching Professor MCD Biology
B.A. University of California Santa Cruz
M.S. Stanford University
Ph.D. University of California Santa Cruz

TEACHING AND RESEARCH INTERESTS

As a teaching professor in MCD Biology, my primary role is to support the university’s educational mission of excellence in teaching. During my time here at UCSC, I have taught lecture and lab courses in molecular biology, genetics, immunology, bioinformatics and physiology.  I regularly teach yeast molecular genetics (BIOL109L) and human physiology (BIOL130/L), and recently developed a new coronavirus bioinformatics lab (BIOL104L). I am particularly interested in incorporating evidence-based teaching and learning practices into our classrooms and making our courses/curriculum more equitable and accessible for our diverse student population. I aspire to provide valuable learning experiences that support student success and enrichment, as well as build a stronger STEM peer community.  In addition to active learning, all of my courses put emphasis on building students’ skills in scientific reasoning, analysis, communication and literacy.

I am a member of the STEM Teaching and Learning Community (TLC-STEM) steering committee, and have been both a participant and facilitator in the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning’s (CITL) Transforming STEM Faculty Learning Program (2018 and 2019).  This year, I am working with CITL once again in the inaugural Teaching Squares program, as well as on a project with UCSC Online Education to develop a hybrid version of my human physiology lab course (BIOL130L).

I believe that undergraduate research is a very important aspect of the STEM undergraduate educational experience. In addition to my primary focus on teaching, I am establishing an undergraduate research lab to provide more opportunity for our students to participate in the scientific process as part of a STEM research community.   

We are generally interested in the relationship between chromatin structure and function as it relates to human disease, and we use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system.  A variety of mechanisms influence the manner in which a given cell’s genome is specifically expressed, for example, at a particular stage of development or under different environmental conditions. One important regulator of a gene expression is the chromatin environment within which it resides.  Chromatin refers to the complex of DNA and protein that serves to package the genome into chromosomes. The nature of that packaging (i.e. chromatin structure) influences whether or not a gene is accessible for transcription, and therefore how it is expressed.  Key mechanisms that contribute to chromatin structure include DNA methylation, histone modification, non-coding RNA, nucleosome positioning and even three-dimensional localization in the nucleus. Epigenetics is a term used to describe alterations in gene expression that are not a result of changes in nucleotide sequence (e.g. but of altered chromatin structure).  Such alterations in gene expression can lead to disease phenotype in humans, and in fact a number of human diseases, like cancer, autoimmune and neurological disorders, have some epigenetic etiology. S. cerevisiae is a very accessible eukaryotic epigenetic model, and as part of our work we are interested in developing humanized yeast models to study epigenetic disease pathways.

Publications

Ruben GJ, Kirkland JG, MacDonough T, et al. Nucleoporin mediated nuclear positioning and silencing of HMR. PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e21923. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021923

Radman-Livaja M, Ruben G, Weiner A, Friedman N, Kamakaka R, Rando OJ. Dynamics of Sir3 spreading in budding yeast: secondary recruitment sites and euchromatic localization. EMBO J. 2011;30(6):1012-1026. doi:10.1038/emboj.2011.30