Tiffany earned her BSc in Biology from Northern Arizona University in 2014, and began her Ph.D. in UCSB’s Biomolecular Science and Engineering program that same year. Driven by a passion for discovering the mechanisms of molecular machines and applying that knowledge to the design of synthetic biomaterials, she now studies the biochemistry and molecular biology of bacterial toxin secretion systems under the advisement of Dr. Christopher Hayes.
As a result of living in densely-populated and nutrient-limited environments, bacteria have evolved complex machinery to facilitate both competition and cooperation. Contact-Dependent Inhibition (CDI) is one such mechanism. CDI is a Type V secretion system that facilitates growth inhibition of neighboring bacteria by the delivery of a toxic protein. Currently, Tiffany’s research is unveiling a new way in which these proteins recognize the bacteria into which toxin is delivered, and also a new mechanism for cytotoxicity following toxin delivery.