Laura I. Francis

Senior Lecturer

Photograph of First Last
348A Morrill II South

B.A., University of Chicago, 2001 Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2008


University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2009 - 2011

Research Interests: 

Molecular Mechanisms of Cell Function

Although I do not have an active research lab, I remain interested in fundamental questions of how cells control their function at the molecular level. As a graduate student and post-doctoral researcher, my research focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying how cells control their entry and progression through the cell cycle. In particular, how cells decide whether or not to replicate their DNA and the control mechanisms that underlie that decision. I am also generally interested in molecular mechanisms of human disease and drug interventions. I interweave these research interests into my teaching as much as possible.

Teaching Statement: 

As an instructor, I am interested in creating an interactive learning experience in the large lecture courses that I teach. Integrating new technologies such as the i>clicker audience response system is an important part of this endeavor, as well as providing students with opportunities to consult with each other before answering clicker or other in-class questions. I often use a problem-based approach to discuss different aspects of cellular and molecular biology and enjoy using “real-world” examples to make the subject material seem more relevant. Beyond conceptual understanding of the material, I also emphasize development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, as these are skills that will be useful in many aspects of the personal and academic life of the student.

Representative Publications: 

Randell, J.C., Fan, A., Chan, C.S., Francis, L.I., Heller, R.C., Galani, K., Bell, S.P. 2010. Mec1 is one of multiple kinases that prime the Mcm2‐7 helicase for phosphorylation by Cdc7. Mol Cell., 40(3): 353-63.

Francis, L.I., Randell, J.C., Takara, T.J., Uchima, L., Bell, S.P. 2009. Incorporation into the prereplicative complex activates the Mcm2-7 helicase for Cdc7-Dbf4 phosphorylation. Genes Dev., 23(5): 643-54.

Strauss, B.S., Roberts, R., Francis, L.I., Pouryazdanparast P. 2000. Role of the dinB gene product in spontaneous mutation in Escherichia coli with an impaired replicative polymerase. J. Bact., 182(23): 6742-50.