Dr. Alexis Tapanes-Castillo obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at Cornell University, Weill Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at the School of Science at St. Thomas University. She teaches upper level biology courses and laboratories, as well as undergraduate research courses. Her research program integrates cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. In collaboration with the University of Miami Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, she is studying the molecular and cellular biology of autism using induced pluripotent stem cells generated from skin biopsies of autistic and non-autistic (control) patients. In addition, her laboratory uses a genetic model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, to analyze the role of the evolutionarily conserved Hedgehog signaling pathway in neuron growth and branching. Lastly, Dr. Tapanes-Castillo also collaborates with other faculty at St. Thomas University to screen chemical extracts prepared from medicinal plants for anticancer properties.