We invite you to “get to know” Dr. Kenneth Day, who joined the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in May 2009.  The postdoctoral fellow is excited about his specific research areas, as well as the work underway at the institute as a whole.

Q: How and when did you wind up at HudsonAlpha?

A: In my previous training, I became interested in epigenetics, particularly how modifications to DNA may influence adult stem cells during aging.  I found Dr. Absher’s lab through his project with the Ellison foundation that is investigating epigenetic changes during aging in identical twins.  I heard about HudsonAlpha and contacted Dr. Absher, who was actually looking for a postdoctoral fellow to join his lab at that time.

Q: What is your research area/s and what is your role in the effort?

A: A lot of research looks at how DNA sequence may influence our susceptibility to certain diseases and in some cases how alteration of DNA sequence is the very cause of disease.  I am particularly interested in how modifications that take place in DNA during our lifespan may influence both longevity and predisposition to disease.  My main project uses both microarrays and next-generation sequencing strategies to expand our view of one type of modification to DNA called methylation as we age.

Q: Why is this research important?

A: Broadening our understanding of how our environment, behaviors, diet, age, etc., can influence DNA methylation may help us find answers to many growing health problems unique to this century.  There are joint efforts in research going on right now that will make an enormous impact on many lives.  We may find that therapies will begin to emerge for many diseases in which there were previously no known treatments. This is an exciting time to be at HudsonAlpha!

Q: What’s your educational background?

A: I earned my B.A. in biology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, my Ph.D. at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and my first postdoctoral position was at the University of Washington.

Q: What sparked your passion for science?

A: I owe the spark of interest and initial passion for biology to Ms. Spaulding, a biology teacher at El Toro High School.

Q: What do you like best about working at HudsonAlpha?

A: What I enjoy most about HudsonAlpha are all of the people working around me.  This includes everyone from maintenance and housekeeping to those working at the research bench and principal investigators.  It is a close-knit group and essentially we are all working toward a shared goal.

Q: Tell us something about you most people would be surprised to know.

A: When things don’t go so well with experiments, I take it all out on the drum set.  I played in a few bands in Seattle, and still actively participate in organizing an annual “post-rock” music festival called Cumulus with some former band mates.  I am working on putting together a new music project here in Huntsville…hopefully soon!