• Name: R. Luke Daniels, Ph.D.
  • Institution: The College of Idaho
  • Department: Biology
  • Phone: 208-459-5893
  • Email: Ldaniels@collegeofidaho.edu

Summary: Dr. Daniels’ research interest is sensory biology—how organisms gather information about their environment and use it to make sense of the world they inhabit. Current research projects focus on temperature-sensing (thermosensation). Many organisms rely on thermosensation for survival, and this ability is crucial for physiological and behavioral responses that keep an organism within the narrow range of temperatures that can sustain life. Thermosensation also serves to warn an organism of temperature extremes that damage biological tissues. The goal of the research in the Daniels laboratory is to understand how temperature and other sensory stimuli are detected at the molecular and cellular level, and how this impacts the physiology and behavior of an organism.

Minimum Classes: NA

Projects: There are currently several ongoing projects in the Daniels lab, organized around two different cell-based model system—a glioblastoma-derived mammalian cell line (GL261) and a free-living ciliated eukaryotic organism (Tetrahymena thermophila). Each of these cell lines expresses sensory ion channels involved in the detection of temperature and pain. Examples of projects in the Daniels lab include: – Exploring the effectiveness of various chemical compounds in inhibiting the growth of glioblastoma tumor cells using techniques such as mammalian cell culture and colorimetric cell viability assays (MTT). This project seeks to understand whether fundamental sensory signaling pathways can be exploited for use in the treatment of cancer. – Examining immediate functional responses to sensory stimuli in glioblastoma tumor cells using techniques such as mammalian cell culture and fluorescent microscopy, including real-time imaging of intracellular calcium levels. This project seeks to understand the initial cellular events that occur immediately following a sensory signaling event. – Characterizing the behavioral responses of T. thermophila to various compounds known to evoke perceptions of temperature or pain in higher organisms using behavioral assays and microscopy. This project seeks to determine whether cellular systems used for sensory signaling are conserved across diverse phyla.

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