- Robert S. Danforth Professor of Biology
- Bachelor of Science, University Philippines, 1971
- Master of Science, University Philippines, 1974
- Doctor of Philosophy, University California Berkeley, 1982
My current research interests are marsupial reproduction and development. The research projects currently underway in my lab concern cell lineage analysis in marsupial embryos, sperm pairing in New World marsupials, and embryo-maternal signaling in marsupial embryonic development.
Michael Moore and I tag-team-teach two of the Biol 100 lecture classes in the fall. Jane Bennett (she more than I) and I teach the 24-member lab classes. In this course, we look at those biological functions that all organisms have in common, with a view to understanding evolutionary relationships among organisms. Thus, we examine the following processes (among others) at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels: gas exchange, water balance, nutrition, energy procurement, reproduction, immunity, motility and nervous function in animals and plant defenses in plants.
My 'extra-curricular' activities include membership in the Society for Developmental Biology, Society for Reproduction and Fertility, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. I serve or have served as grant reviewer for the National Research Council, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the United States Department of Agriculture. I serve as Oberlin's Convenor for the Natural Sciences. My community work in Oberlin includes volunteer work for the Tri-City Lupus Project, the Pilipino-American Association of Lorain County, and the David Love Memorial Fund.
I travel, hike and swim as much as I can. My last big trip was to Kenya in 2008, with my daughter Elsa Cruz Pearson. I try to read all the books I should have read as a wannabee English and Philosophy major, and cook all the stuff I learned to in home ec class. I went to a Beatles concert in 1966. I grow flowers in my garden at home when I'm taking a break from making jewelry in my basement and knitting in my kitchen. I adore Rachmaninoff, Kazuo Ishiguro, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Lloyd Wright, Kemal Ataturk, and Sean Connery. I still dream of training as an architect or an archeologist. My most recent accomplishments are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mount Fuji, dog-sledding on Langjokull, discovering Khmer temples and Zapotec ruins, paragliding in New Zealand, visiting Baalbeck and Byblos, admiring fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, checking out petroglyphs in Arizona, the snow on Aconcagua, the ice on Matanuska; and hiking in Dartmoor, Tasmania, Uluru, Thingvellir, Mt. Makiling, the Routeburn Track, the Peak District, and the Rift Valley.
Every other fall, I teach a course, FYSP 199 (Designer Babies and Other Possibilities), to 14 or 15 freshmen. A writing-intensive course, this first-year seminar features discussions, oral reports and much writing on topics such as GM crops, reproductive technologies and genome editing.
FYSP 199 Class, Fall 2012
Back Row (L to R): Y Cruz, R Tran, Z Bluffstone, J Rosenblum, B Shepherd, S Carlson-Donohoe, M Herzog, W Chen
Front Row (L to R) : S Cox, C Diehl, A Ratigan, K Cabrera, S Loewus, L MacDonald, I Bamert, A Aronowitz (Writing Associate)
(Not in photo: M. Dunn)
I teach Developmental Biology (Biology 301 and 302) in the spring, every other year. This course deals with the intricacies of such aspects of embryonic development as cleavage, axis formation, gastrulation, organogenesis, limb regeneration, and evolution of development ('evo-devo') at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels. Most of the students in this course are biology or neuroscience majors, although I have had physics, art history, neuroscience, and biochemistry majors as well!
Biology 301 (Developmental Biology), Spring 2012
Back row: Julia Olivieri, Vera Hutchison, Samantha Regan, David Yarnell.
Next to left banister, bottom to top: Henry Csikszentmihalyi, Xavier Tirado, Ariana Enzerink, Tori Poplaski, Calista Diehl.
Next to right banister, bottom to top: Maya Muenzer, Ave Spencer, Emma Brezel, Scott Miller, Jack Poyle.
Middle pyramid, bottom to top, left to right: Yolanda Cruz, Madeline Prangley, Amanda Dame, Kobi Griffith, Jennifer Jimenez, Zach Myers, Claudia Nunes, Ava Field, Erin Johnson.
Not in photo: Karsten Jurkiewicz, Robert Lewis-Nash, Rachel Nesnevich, Taylorlynn Stephan.
I also teach a course in Epigenetics (alternately with Developmental Biology). Epigenetics is the study of non-DNA-mediated hereditary changes in cells, a rapidly growing field I find personally satisfying because it is finding answers to many of the riddles and mysteries in biology which entranced me as a college student many years ago: “cytoplasmic inheritance,”position-effect variegation, chromosomal inactivation, and so on. The Spring 2015 Epigenetics class is shown below.
Biology 311 (Epigenetics), Spring 2015
(L to R) Back row: Chris Ayoub, Sam Papadakis, Carmen Azevedo, Ellen Page, Lulu Huang, Josh Goodman, Lisa MacDonald, Daniel Stuff.
(L to R) Front row: Yolanda Cruz, Calista Diehl, Kate Frost, Tziporah Amgott-Kwan, Cameron Chan.
Not in photo: Brandon Bertot
Cruz Lab, February 2016
(L to R) Standing: Kobi Griffith, Ave Spencer, Katie Christel, Vera Hutchison, Alexandra Kahn, Maggie Rugin
(L to R) Seated: Mackensey Saxton, Yolanda Cruz, Ben Reid, Lisa MacDonald, Nico Lara, Josh Goodman
The number of students working in the lab with me varies from semester to semester. Our February 2016 lab dinner brought together graduating, continuing, and new members of the lab. Mackensey and Lisa, honors research students, will graduate in May 2016. Ave, Maggie, Vera and Josh are our new lab members.
Recent Publications and Presentations
(* denotes a student)
Rousmaniere H*, Silverman R*, White RA*, Sasaki MS*, Wilson SD*, Morrison JT*, Cruz YP. (2010) Husbandry of Mono-delphis domestica in the study of mammalian embryogenesis. Lab. Anim. 39:219-226.
Wang V*, Cruz Y (2010) Expression pattern of E-cad, Ocln and ZO-1 in cleavage-stage Monodelphis domestica embryos. Poster, 69th Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 5-9 August.
Cruz YP, Morrison JT, Bantilan NS* (2010) Trophoblast specification in embryos of the marsupial,Monodelphis domestica. Invited Talk, Symposium on Cellular Contact in Growth and Differentiation, 69th Annual Meeting of the Soeciety for Developmental Biology, Albuquerque, New Mexico 7 August.
Chen J*, Cruz Y (2011) Characterizing Blimp1 expression and PGC migration in Monodelphis domestica. Poster, 70th Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, Chicago, Illinois, 21-25 July.
Johnson J*, Cruz Y (2011) Does progesterone have a role in embryo-maternal communication inMonodelphis domestica? Poster, 70th Annual Meeting of the Society of Developmental Biology, Chicago, Illinois, 21-25 July.
Cruz YP (2012) Using the Brazilian opossum to study mammalian evolution. Invited talk and workshop presentation at “A Systems Biology Approach to Understanding Mechanisms of Organismal Evolution,” Pan American Advanced Studies Institute, Satellite Short Course of the Sixth International Meeting of the Latin American Society for Developmental Biology, Montevideo, Uruguay, April 24, 2012.
Morrison JT*, Wang VN*, Safa N*, Bantilan NS*, Nellett KM, Cruz YP (2012) Trophoblast differentiation in the laboratory opossum, Monodelphis domestica Wagner (Didelphidae, Marsupialia) relies on many of the same genes delineating the inner cell mass from the trophoblast lineage in the mouse. Poster, Conference of the Society for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh, Scotland, 9-11 July.
Safa N*, Cruz YP (2012) The spatio-temporal expression of Yap1 and Lats2 suggests a role for the Hippo pathway in trophoblast differentiation in embryos of Monodelphis domestica. Poster, 71st Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, Montreal, Quebec, 19-23 July.
Morrison JT*, Wang VN*, Bantilan NS*, Nellett KM*, Cruz YP (2013) Expression patterns of Oct4, Cdx2 and Yap1 Proteins during blastocyst formation in embryos of the marsupial, Monodelphis domestica Wagner. Evo. Dev.15(3):183-197.
Familari M, Au PCK, de Iongh RU, Cruz YP, Selwood L (2015) Expression analysis of Cdx2 and Pouf51 in the marsupial,The stripe-faced dunnart, during early development to the bilaminar blastocyst stage. Mol. Reprod. Genet. doi: 10.1002/mrd.22597