Dr. Shawn M. Christensen


Associate Professor of Biology
MAJOR AREA: Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Genomics
OFFICE: 333 Engineering Research Building
PHONE: 817-272-0520
LAB: 374 Engineering Research Building
PHONE: 817-272-0521
FAX: 817-272-9722
Ph. D. University of Utah, 1999.

I am interested in parasitic (“selfish”) mobile genetic elements, in particular, the mechanisms by which these elements replicate and the methods by which host cells combat element replication. Mobile elements, generically called transposons, can be categorized based upon element structure and mechanism of transposition: DNA transposons, Long-Terminal-Repeat (LTR) retrotransposons, non-LTR retrotransposons (aka. LINES), and SINE elements. My lab focuses on non-LTR retrotransposons.

Non-LTR retrotransposons can have a major impact on host genomes -- over 34% of the Human genome is the result of element activity. These elements transpose through a process called Target Primed Reverse Transcription (TPRT), a process my lab studies at the biochemical level.

While biochemistry and molecular biology are my lab’s primary tools we also utilize bioinformatic and genetic approaches in our study of non-LTR retrotransposons.