Dr. Laakso joined the Biology Department at Eastern in 2012. She taught previously at The College of New Jersey as a Visiting Professor, and at the University of Pennsylvania as a Lecturer. A native of Nebraska, she feels fortunate to have grown up in a family where a spiritual life and education were valued.
Dr. Laakso loves viruses, and would marry them except that she is already married. She lives in Bryn Mawr with her wonderful husband and two children, and a very friendly pit bull.
B.S. Agriculture, Kansas State University
M.S. Genetics, Kansas State University
Ph.D. Molecular Virology & Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellow, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
At Eastern Since 2012
BIOL 105 (Introductory Biology), BIOL 152 (General Biology II), BIOL 312 (Genetics), BIOL 313 (Developmental Biology), BIOL 316 (Techniques in Biotechnology), Life and Death Among the Viruses
I believe much of what we teach has to be modeled. Especially in the sciences, we are trying to show students what it looks like to love God and His creation with all of our mind and strength. At Eastern University, there is no dichotomy between faith and science. This is a place where I don't have to hide my love for God, or my love for the natural world.
The opportunity to connect with students is also very important to me. There is no substitute for personal interactions between faculty and students at the university level. As an undergraduate at a small Bible college, I interacted daily with committed faculty who cared about me, and my future as a Christian and a career woman. I hope to model that same commitment and care for my students at Eastern.
Viral trafficking and entry: Using plant viruses to understand the complex relationship between virus, plant and insect vector
Dr. Laakso has a longstanding interest in viruses and how they enter the host cell. Her past research experience includes studies with human immunodeficiency virus resistance to antiviral drugs, and the development of novel drugs for HIV treatment. At Eastern, her research focus has shifted to plant viruses that are economically important in the US and in developing countries.
Begomoviruses are plant viruses that infect food and fiber crops. These viruses cause disease in hundreds of plant species, and are transmitted only by the silverleaf whitefly. Our lab is interested in how virus is acquired by the whitefly during feeding, and how virus traffics through the body of the whitefly before it is transmitted to the next plant. We use molecular biology, microscopy and bioinformatics to understand these events at the molecular level. Currently we are studying tomato yellow leaf curl virus and cotton leaf curl Gezira virus, which cause devastating disease in the US and overseas.
- Rudick, J.G., Laakso, M.M., Schloss, A.C., Doms, R.W., DeGrado, W.D. (2013) Template-constrained cyclic sulfopeptide HIV-1 entry inhibitors. Organic Biomolecular Chemistry 11(41):7096-100.
- Agrawal, C.A., Lee, F.H., Haggarty, B., Lee, B., Hoxie, J.A., Doms, R.W., and Laakso, M.M. (2009) Adaptive mutations in a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope protein with a truncated V3 loop restore function by improving interactions with CD4. Journal of Virology 83:11005-15.
- Laakso, M.M., Lee, F.H, Haggarty, B., Agrawal C., Nolan K.M., Biscone M., Romano J., Jordan A.P., Leslie G.J., Meissner E.G., Su L., Hoxie J.A., Doms R.W. (2007) V3 loop truncations in HIV-1 envelope impart resistance to coreceptor inhibitors and enhanced sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies. PLoS Pathogens 24;3(8):e117.
- Laakso, M.M. and Doms, R.W. (2006) The molecular basis of HIV entry and its inhibition. Journal of Viral Entry 2:4-12.