Bonnibelle Leeds

Physiology and Biophysics

Bonni is a PhD student in the Asbury laboratory in the Physiology and Biophysics department. She studies microtubules (MTs), which are long, hollow cylinders of repeating protein subunits that switch stochastically between phases of lengthening and shortening. In most eukaryotic cells, bundles of several MTs drive cell division by synchronously lengthening and shortening to align and segregate chromosomes. Uncovering how MTs remain synchronized to correctly separate the cells’ genome is critical to understanding how cell division goes awry, as in many cancers. Bonni’s thesis work will use optical trapping and Monte Carlo simulations to examine the role of mechanical coupling in MT coordination.  In addition to providing pathological insights, understanding MT mechanics will instruct the design of sophisticated synthetic nanomachines, which thus far cannot recapitulate naturally occurring protein nanomachinery. Bonni earned her B.S. in Bioengineering at the University of Washington in 2019.