Claire Gordy, Ph.D.

  • Biology


    Duke University - Immunology


    Henrik Dohlman , Ph.D.


I began to work toward dual goals in teaching and research as an undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma, where I worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for a large freshman-level introductory zoology course for six semesters. During my time at OU, I was fortunate to join Dr. William Rodger’s lab in the Program in Molecular Immunogenetics at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Although I was only a freshman and had not yet taken cell or molecular biology courses, I was given my own project studying the function of glycolipid-enriched membrane domains in antigen presentation. I spent the next three years working in this small lab with two other undergraduates and was able to publish a first-author paper before I graduated. My experiences at OMRF not only cemented my desire to continue to study the basic medical sciences, but also showed me that it is possible for undergraduates with little research background to accomplish real and meaningful work in the lab.

I continued to study basic questions related to the function of the cells of the immune system as a graduate student at Duke University. My graduate research in Dr. You-Wen He’s lab focused on the processes that control cell survival and death in the immune system, including apoptosis, pyroptosis, and autophagy.

During my time at Duke, my career goals became more specific, as I realized that I wanted to become a faculty member at a smaller, primarily undergraduate institution where I could find a balance between research and teaching and where I could actively involve undergraduates in my lab. I thus sought out opportunities to hone my teaching and mentoring skills, and during my final year at Duke, I taught introductory biology at Durham Technical Community College. Through teaching at Durham Tech, I gained useful classroom experience and practice in balancing research and teaching commitments; however, the most fulfilling aspect of this experience was being able to invite one of my students to come work with me in the lab over the summer.

I recently joined Dr. Mara Duncan’s lab in the Department of Biology at UNC. In the Duncan lab, I am studying autophagy, one of the cell survival processes I became interested in as a graduate student. In a change from my previous work, I am studying the mechanisms that control glucose starvation-mediated arrest of autophagy in the budding yeast S. cerevisiae. I am enjoying learning a new model system and look forward to sharing my work with undergraduates both in the classroom and in the lab.


  • Spring 2014
    • Developmental Biology with lab, UNC Pembroke