About the PI



Alicia Meléndez, PhD
Principal Investigator

Dr. Meléndez grew up in Puerto Rico, until she left for college abroad. She received her BA degree from Princeton University. She worked with Dr. Eric Wieschaus for her undergraduate thesis research studying cytoplasmic streaming in the mutant quail in Drosophila. Here she developed a lifelong love for studying development.

Dr. Meléndez received her PhD degree in Biology from Columbia University, in the department of Biological Sciences, where she performed her thesis work with Dr. Daniel D. Kalderon. Here, she studied again the role of a kinase DC2 in the development of the Drosophila fruit fly.

For postdoctoral training, Dr. Meléndez trained with Dr. Iva S. Greenwald in C. elegans genetics in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University. In her postdoctoral work, she showed that LIN-13 behaves as a class B SynMuv protein and Dr. Meléndez showed that it contained multiple zinc fingers and a motif, LXCXE, implicated in binding the tumor suppressor protein Rb. She then took a position to study autophagy in a genetic model system, in the laboratory of Dr. Beth Levine. Here, she chose to study autophagy in C. elegans, and was the first to describe a role for autophagy in metazoan development, and aging. Dr. Meléndez showed that BEC-1/BECN1 and several other autophagy genes are required for dauer development and for longevity.

In 2006, Dr. Meléndez became an Assistant Professor in the department of Biology at Queens College. Dr. Meléndez is a regional member of the Nathan Shock Center for Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She was promoted to Full Professor in 2017, and since 2015 has been the Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Subprogram. She is a core faculty member of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology PhD Subprogram, as well as the Biochemistry PhD program at The Graduate School of the City University of New York.