University of Ilinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Research interests of my lab are grouped in several areas. The major theme of my lab is plant molecular genetics that is heavily represented with olive genetics. With olives, we are trying to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying alternate bearing and fruit detachment both of which cause great economic loss to the olive growers. Our aim is to isolate and characterize genes responsible with these processes. The next step will be isolating the transcription factors and other regulatory factors controlling these genes. Once we have these information, we will be struggling to produce surfactants containing these transcription factors to turn on or turn off the target genes without any transgenic applications. This will ideally enable us to control fruit detachment in olive preferentially limiting the harvest to less than two weeks.
The second research field in my lab involves plant molecular systematics. Turkey has around 9000 so far - described plant species and this number increases day by day. Comparing to the 12000 species of the continental Europe, Turkey has a significantly rich flora. Most plant families in Turkey have either ethnobotanical importance or they are important sources for drug industry or they are directly used for alternative therapy among people for decades if not for hundreds of years. Hence, to document the accurate lists of these plants are extremely important for both plant biology and for conservation biology. With this respect, we are utilizing nuclear (e. g. ITS) and plastid (e. g. trnL-F) DNA markers to accurately identify and revise plant species commonly grow in Turkey.
The third research stream concentrates on identifying and characterizing human lung cancer associated genes. Although all the human genes are known based on current gene definition, very few of them are known at the functional level. Therefore most human genes are named based on their homologs from other species and their functions are yet to be described. The same problem exists for genes that have roles in lung cancer either as oncogens or as tumor suppressors (TSG). Therefore identifying and characterizing the function of these candidate oncogens or TSGs will generate useful data for diagnosis and / or treatment of this disease. With this respect, we first compare the sequences of these candidate genes from cancer patents and healthy individuals. If a significant correlation exists we then try to find out and document the function of the gene along with its regulatory factors.
I am the director of the Exercise Technology & Cognition Laboratory which is housed within the Kinesiology & Community Health Department in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. My research focuses on understanding factors that facilitate long-term physical activity behavior and self-regulation across the lifespan. My lab employs an interdisciplinary, social neuroscience framework to study psychosocial and cognitive antecedents and outcomes of regular exercise. To complement traditional supervised, center-based physical activity interventions, we utilize adjuvant therapies and technology-delivered methods to enhance physical activity and cognitive performance.
My research is currently funded by the National Institute on Aging, UIUC’s Center on Health, Aging, & Disability, and UIUC’s Campus Research Board. I have also been funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.