Meet the Faculty
Dr. Dawn Franks
Office #: Quinlan LSB 123
Dr. Dawn Franks began her career in scientific inquiry at Coe College where she majored in chemistry as an undergraduate and carried out research on airborn lead levels in collaboration with the Linn County Environmental Protection Agency successfully documenting a dramatic drop in atmospheric lead following the change to unleaded gasoline. Her research activities subsequently focused on microbial protein synthesis at the University of Iowa where she worked with Dr. John Menninger on characterization of a mutant in the ribosomal editing process. This research was part of a wider effort to understand the process by which the accuracy of protein synthesis is compromised in cells subjected to stressful conditions and has contributed to an improved understanding of antibiotic resistance in microbes.
Dr. Franks earned a PhD in Developmental Molecular Genetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago working with Dr. Peter Okkema, who was trained by Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Andrew Fire. Her biological research at UIC focused on characterization of proteoglycan (PGs) function and synthesis in C. elegans, a model system for animal embryonic development. She was able to demonstrate that one class of proteoglycans, the heparan sulfate PGs, are required for normal morphogenesis of the C. elegansneuromuscular feeding organ. She later carried out post-doctoral research at Rush University Medical Center on proteoglycans in human cartilage and was invited to present her findings at the Orthopedic Research Society.