Marissa graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a minor in Microbiology. While at Virginia Tech, she conducted research in the lab of Dr. Alan Youthman, studying the growth patterns of B.popillae, a bacterium used in industrial microbiology applications. Upon graduation, Marissa moved to Norfolk, VA to work at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) where she was employed for almost 6 years. Moving to Georgia in November 2008, Marissa joined the McDevitt lab and began her role as the Laboratory Manager in addition to conducting research as a Research Scientist. Currently Research Operations Manager for Todd McDevitt, Marissa is manager of both the Stem Cell Core and the McDevitt laboratory and oversees the NSF IGERT program here at Georgia Tech.
Currently, I oversee the daily operations of the Stem Cell Core and the McDevitt Laboratory to include mouse and human stem cell culture and experimentation, as well as contracted projects for collaborators. I also write and edit grants and manuscripts, coordinate and facilitate both internal and external scientific collaborations, maintain our working budget and inventory, and directly oversee four undergraduate employees. Some of my experimental work is outlined below: The inherent pluripotency of embryonic stem cells affords them the ability to differentiate into all somatic cell types, making them a unique source for regenerative biologic therapeutics and tissue engineering applications. One aspect of my research focuses on solubilizing the extracellular matrix (ECM) produced by differentiating embryonic stem cells. By characterizing the molecular composition and bioactivity of solubilized ECM, I aim to reformulate the material as a hydrogel capable of injectable delivery for a variety of in vivo regenerative therapeutic applications. In addition to the aforementioned studies, my research also involves epigenetic studies of differentiating embryonic stem cells. Understanding the functional role of histone linker proteins and their effect on dynamic changes in chromatin structure in embryonic stem cells undergoing differentiation offers us more control over stem cell fate into distinct cell types. This facet of my research will hopefully also provide useful insight to the growing field of cell reprogramming.