Current Lab Members

Michael C. Edler Jr., Ph.D.

Lab Manager

Mike grew up in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. He completed a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biolgy from Marquette University in 1997. Dr. Edler went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2003. He continued his training at the National Cancer Institute where he was a post-doc until 2006. Before joining the Baucum lab in August of 2013, Mike was previously a Principal Investigator for a small biotechnology company in Tallahassee, FL.

Mike's research in the Baucum laboratory has focused on the expression and characterization of potential spinophilin binding proteins. In particular, myosin-Va has demonstrated the ability to bind spinophilin in both brain tissue extracts and in a cell system where both myosin-Va and spinophilin are overexpressed. Multiple cellular transport functions have been attributed to myosin-Va making its interaction with spinophilin an attractive target for study. Previously, another lab demonstrated that the action of myosin-Va was largely responsible for the insertion and extension of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) into the dendritic spines of Purkinje neurons, which is required for synaptic plasticity. Targeting of PP1 by spinophilin to myosin-Va could lead to decreased myosin-Va phosphorylation and modulate myosin-Va association with F-actin. Modulating myosin-Va/F-actin dynamics could slow or stop the transport of the ER into dendritic spines and potentially change local protein translation.

In addition to his research, Dr. Edler assists Dr. Baucum in the training and mentoring of graduate, undergraduate and high school students in the laboratory. I am also responsible for general lab upkeep, inventory and purchasing. I also maintain the lab stocks of mammalian and bacterial cell lines.

Mike's e-mail address is mcedler@iupui.edu





Asma B. Salek

Ph.D. Student

Asma was born in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan, Iran. She completed her BSc in Molecular and Cellular biology at Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran in 2013. She then completed her MSc in department of Biology at IUPUI in 2016. After defending her Master's Thesis, she decided to continue her studies in the Baucum lab as a PhD student. She is highly interested in Neuroscience; planning to continue her career in Neuroscience after graduation. Her long-term academic goal is to combine her acquired knowledge about molecular Neuroscience with cognitive Neuroscience and try to understand molecular principles of various behaviors as a principal investigator. She enjoys studying environmental issues, participating in activities that try to prevent them and raise public awareness about them. She also likes to read psychology related books, working out and exploring the pristine outdoors.

Asma’s research project focuses on identification of specific protein-protein interactions in neurons. In fact, her project revolves around understanding what protein association pattern happens in normal signal transduction and how does this pattern change in disease state. Specifically, Asma is studying the association of spinophilin with NMDAR subunits and how those associations are modulated in neurodegenerative diseases and in brain injury.

Asma has been awarded multiple travel awards from IUPUI to attend the Society of Neuroscience Annual meeting. Asma also received the outstanding master’s thesis award for her Master's thesis studies. Asma was recently highlighted in a profile

Asma's e-mail address is abeiragh@umail.iu.edu



Harjot Kaur

Thesis M.S. Student

Jyot is from Valparaiso, IN. She is a second year MS student in the Baucum Lab. Jyot received her B.S. in Biology, Neuroscience and Psychology from IUPUI. As an undergraduate, she worked in an addiction neuroscience lab at the Indiana University School of Medicine and later in a stem cell research lab at IUPUI. After finishing her undergrad, she further pursued research opportunity in Dr. Baucum’s cellular and molecular neuroscience lab where she has been studying the role of scaffolding proteins in healthy and disease state. She is fascinated by medicine and is an avid philanthropist, often volunteering at organizations such as Riley Children’s Hospital, Community Health Network and Franciscan Health. Her future plans include continuing research in a clinical setting where she can do two things she loves most – research and patient care.

Jyot’s research project focuses on Neurabin and Spinophilin – scaffolding proteins that play a major role in neuronal communication. She is working on understanding the synaptic protein-protein interactions that will help elucidate the underlying mechanisms of healthy signaling as well as perturbations seen in disease state. She is particularly looking at how scaffolding protein activity is altered in Parkinson Disease. Jyot has also recently started working on a new project that is aimed at understanding the role of Neurabin in cancer pathways leading to formation of glioblastoma.

Jyot's e-mail address is kaur9@umail.iu.edu





Darryl S. Watkins

Ph.D. Student

Darryl grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. He completed a B.S. in Neuroscience in 2015. He is currently a second year Ph.D. student in the Medical Neuroscience Program at Indiana University School of Medicine. He received the Paul & Carole Stark Fellowship for the academic year of 2015-2016. Darryl is very passionate about neuroscience research. Darryl is particularly interested in understanding how the genetic and molecular underpinnings of normal neuronal signaling and synaptic transmission dictate and guide neurological disease states. Darryl’s long-term plans are to work in academia, but he has not ruled out industry. Darryl strongly supports philanthropy and volunteers for various groups that support the poor and disenfranchised. Darryl loves creating original music and he likes taking moments to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Darryl’s research project is focused on how drugs of abuse affect spinophilin’s interaction and association with other postsynaptic proteins in specific neuronal cell types. By using transgenic mouse models combined with organotypic slice pharmacology and biochemical approaches, Darryl hopes to elucidate spinophilin’s role when the brain is exposed to chronic and/or acute doses of drugs of abuse.

Darryl's e-mail address is dswatkin@umail.iu.edu







Kaitlyn C. Stickel

Ph.D. Student

Kaitlyn grew up in Fountain City, Indiana. She completed her B.S. degree in neuroscience at IUPUI in 2016. Kaitlyn joined the Baucum lab in 2016. Kaitlyn is most interested in neuroscience research, specifically Parkinson’s disease or drugs of abuse. Her future plans include working in industry once she graduates from IUPUI. She enjoys playing basketball, spending time with friends, and experiencing downtown Indy.

   Kaitlyn's research project focuses on looking at the presence of spinophilin within the pancreas, specifically in the β-cells in the pancreas. Previous data has determined spinophilin presence within the islets of pancreas. However, the specifics of spinophilin expression and interactions within the pancreas have not been deeply studied. Kaitlyn is interested in the β-cells within the pancreatic islets that release insulin, which correlates to a leptin receptor deficient in a mouse model of obesity and diabetes. The ultimate goal is to determine the functionality and possible interactions of spinophilin within the β-cells in the pancreas.

Kaitlyn's e-mail address is kcsticke@umail.iu.edu







Cameron W. Morris

Undergraduate Student

Cameron is from Greenwood, IN. He is currently an undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Neuroscience. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. program after graduation to study the molecular mechanisms underlying Alzheimer disease pathology. He enjoys spending time with his family and helping out at his church; he also enjoys reading, watching movies, and eating food in his free time.

 Cameron is determining the molecular mechanisms regulating the protein interaction between SAP90/PSD-associated protein 3 (SAPAP3) and spinophilin. Both of these proteins are associated with metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 (mGluR5). Moreover, it has been found that SAPAP3 inhibits AMPAR endocytosis by suppressing mGluR5 activity. Similarly, spinophilin can inhibit mGluR5 endocytosis. Interestingly, we have found mGluR5 increases the association between SAPAP3 and spinophilin, however, we are still investigating the physiological implications of this interaction in PD and OCD pathology.

Camerons's e-mail address is cammorri@umail.iu.edu

Victor Olafusi - Undergraduate Student
Chandler Parrish - High School Student
Srineeth Challa - High School Student