Emma Davidson

Time Flies: An analysis of Circadian impact upon cell cycle regulation using Boolean modeling and a developmental Drosophila model

Class of 2022


  • Education
    • Westerville South High School, Westerville, OH, 2018
    • The College of Wooster, BA in Neurobiology, 2022
  • Professional experience
    • Elias Compton First Year Award
    • Dewald First Year Award
    • College Scholar Award
    • Whitmore-Wilson Science Scholarship
    • The College of Wooster, StemZone Intern, SSI Intern, Research Assistant, Minorities in STEM co-president, senior advisor
    • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Research Assistant
    • Ohio Department of Health & Ohio State University Coronavirus Study, State of Ohio, Study Employee and Volunteer

IS Thesis Abstract

The circadian system is an incredibly conserved physiological component of nearly all living organisms and is most well-known for its behavioral outputs. Though behavioral aspects such as sleep/wake patterns are necessary components of life, this nearly universal conservation hints at how critical this system is for other more fundamental aspects of cellular and molecular physiology. Recent studies have continued to identify further links between the molecular underpinnings of the circadian system and cell cycle regulation machinery such as proteins acting in both systems, and response elements to one another. To better comprehend the interconnectedness of circadian rhythms and the cell cycle, and the effects they have on cellular proliferation, we have created a Boolean computational model of the circadian system and begun linking it to an existing model of the cell cycle. In addition to computational endeavors, we also completed complementary experiments using a Drosophila melanogaster model organism. Though various computational models of the circadian system and its relation to the cell cycle have been constructed, this work examines how perturbations in the circadian framework influence cellular proliferation through regulation of the cell cycle, and compares the predictions of our computational model with wet lab findings. Examination of time required for Drosophila development revealed that wildtype individuals spend longer on average in developmental stages than mutant individuals with longer circadian periods, though cell count analysis revealed that these same mutants with elongated circadian periods have a fewer number of cells in fully developed wing tissues. We suggest that these findings occur due to the regulatory interactions that the core dCLOCK::CYCLE dimer has on cell cycle regulatory components, as indicated by the predictions of our mammalian circadian system model, and the regulation provided by the BMAL1::CLOCK dimer on cell cycle progression.

Figure 1. The molecular framework of mammalian circadian system captured in Emma’s model
Figure 2. Emma presenting her work at the Winter Q-Bio Conference, February, 2022

Webpage: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-davidson-b8030a170/