Traci Lee, Ph.D.

Traci Lee


  • Regulation of Gene expression
  • Transcription Factor families
  • The Cell Cycle
I received my B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology (dept. honors) at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. I proceeded to attain my Ph.D. in Oncology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison (in Dr. Peggy Farnham's laboratory). I continued my training as a
Postdoctoral Fellow at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Dr. Mike Tyers' laboratory (in Toronto, Canada) prior to joining UW-Parkside's Biological Sciences department as a faculty member.

Teaching Interests

I truly enjoy teaching because it allows me the opportunity to share my fascination of biology with students. In addition, teaching biology at all the different levels is gratifying as each level provides a key service and is rewarding in a different way. In the general education course “Science and Pseudoscience” (GSCI 102), I expose non-science majors to the scientific process, show them the problems associated with pseudoscience, and enable them to make logical, informed decisions about their lives. Teaching “General Genetics” (BIOS 260) is an honor as Genetics is the foundation for almost all biology disciplines and all students majoring within our department must take this course. My ability to impart this field’s large and complex knowledge base as well as its associated critical thinking skills will have a direct impact my students’ overall understanding and performance in biology. For my upper-level undergraduate courses (BIOS 355: Biology of Cancer, BIOS:435 Experimental Methods, BIOS 489: Research Seminar for MBBI Majors, BIOS 495: Senior Seminar for BIOS Majors) and graduate-level course (BIOS 675: Advanced Molecular Biology), I get to hone my student’s abilities to analyze and understand primary research articles and test their abilities to think critically about experimental design in addition to furthering their knowledge in my areas of expertise.

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms that control gene expression. Gene expression plays an important role in determining cell identity and function. Consider why your skin cells are different from your liver cells. The difference is not due to the DNA these cells have (as all the cells in your body contain basically the same DNA). The difference is due to gene expression. In development, cells receive signals and commit to becoming certain cell types by expressing specific sets of genes. I have focused on the basic question, “How does a cell respond appropriately to its environment in terms of the genes it chooses to express?” To answer this question, I study the expression of sulfur metabolic genes in budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Sulfur is an essential element that is vital to numerous biological processes. As such, sulfur metabolism is regulated by a variety of environmental and intracellular cues. Expression of yeast sulfur metabolism genes is controlled at the level of transcription (in which RNA copies of the gene are produced). Met4 activates the transcription of yeast sulfur metabolism genes by recruiting the general transcription machinery to the promoter (the region just upstream) of the gene. Several mechanisms control the ability of Met4 to activate genes. While I have been involved in characterizing how Met4 is regulated by various modifications (ubiquitylation and phosphorylation) in response to different environmental inputs, my research at UW-Parkside has mostly focused on understanding how Met4 is brought to specific genes and how shifts in gene selection are made in response to changing cellular needs.

Consulting Interests

Selected Publications

2018: An Autophagy-Independent Role for ATG41 in Sulfur Metabolism During Zinc Deficiency, Genetics/Genetics Society of America

2012: Characterizing roles of Met31 and Met32 in coordinating Met4-activated transcription in the absence of Met30 , Molecular Biology of the Cell (1928-1942 pp.)

2011: Coordinated regulation of sulfur and phospholipid metabolism reflects the importance of methylation in the growth of yeast., Molecular Biology of the Cell (4192-4202 pp.)

2010: Dissection of combinatorial control by the Met4 transcriptional complex , Molecular Biology of the Cell (456-469 pp.)

Teaching Awards

2016: An NSF-funded project run through Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories that develops a sustainable infrastructure and training program to assist undergraduate faculty in integrating RNA-Seq next-generation sequence (NGS) analysis into course-based and independent student research. See for details., RNA-Seq for the Next Generation Award, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories

Departmental Service

2017: Committee Chair - Molecular Biology Programs Committee

University Service

2023: Committee Member - UW-Systems' IDEAS Alliance (formerly called Women & Science) Advisory Board
2022: Committee Member - UW-Systems' IDEAS Alliance (formerly called Women & Science) Advisory Board
2021: Committee Member - UW-Systems' Women & Science Advisory Board
2017: Committee Chair - Committee of Teaching and Learning
2016: Committee Member - Committee on Teaching and Learning
2014: Committee Member - Committee on Teaching and Learning

UW System Service

2013: Committee Chair - UW Systems Women and Science
BIOS 260 - General Genetics
BIOS 355 - Biology of Cancer
BIOS 435 - Experimental Mthds/Biochem Lab
BIOS 489 - Molec Bio/Bioinform Sr Project
BIOS 489 - Molec Bio/Bioinfrm Sr Project
BIOS 499 - Independent Study:
BIOS 675 - Advanced Molecular Biology
BIOS 699 - Independent Study:
BIOS 731 - Graduate Seminar
CHEM 308 - Biochemistry Laboratory
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