Cory Johnson


  • B.S. Biology, University of Maine, 2018


Before I entered my career in science, I taught skiing in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and guided sea kayaking on the coast of Maine. After teaching skiing in Colorado, I decided to pursue a degree in biology at the University of Maine while still guiding sea kayaking. During my undergraduate career and the beginning of my graduate school career, I worked with Prof. Kristy Townsend studying how adipose (fat) tissue and the brain communicate. I’d like to thank Prof. Kristy Townsend (currently an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University) for her mentorship and the opportunity that initiated my desire to pursue a career in biomedical research. I am currently working with Prof. Joshua Kelley at the University of Maine. My research is aimed at identifying molecular mechanisms in G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) mediated cellular polarization and gradient tracking using a combination of molecular and computational tools.

Dissertation Projects

G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of drug targets approved by the FDA (approximately 34%). Drugs aimed at treating neurological diseases account for 26% of GPCR-targeted pharmaceuticals. My research investigates the role of pheromone receptor internalization in the yeast pheromone response. The yeast pheromone receptor, a GPCR, is responsible for a cascade of intracellular signaling that regulates the necessary cytoskeletal modulations in mating projection formation. This is a similar method used by neurons, which can extend in the presence of growth factors. Loss of gradient tracking abilities in neurons lead to neurodegeneration. By better understanding how receptor internalization mediates projection formation in yeast, I hope to provide insight for the development of new medications to prevent, reverse, and treat neurological disease.

Selected Publications

  • Harling, M., Juybari, J., Johnson, C.P., Townsend, K.L., Khalil, A. and Tilbury, K., 2020, February. Wavelet-based characterization of the spatial relationship of nerve and collagen in neuropathic adipose tissue. In Three-Dimensional and Multidimensional Microscopy: Image Acquisition and Processing XXVII (Vol. 11245, p. 112450R). International Society for Optics and Photonics.
  • Blaszkiewicz, M., Willows, J.W., Dubois, A.L., Waible, S., DiBello, K., Lyons, L.L., Johnson, C.P., Paradie, E., Banks, N., Motyl, K. and Michael, M., 2019. Neuropathy and neural plasticity in the subcutaneous white adipose depot. PloS one14(9), p.e0221766.
  • Blaszkiewicz, M., Willows, J.W., Johnson, C.P. and Townsend, K.L., 2019. The importance of peripheral nerves in adipose tissue for the regulation of energy balance. Biology8(1), p.10.
  • Miller, J.L., Blaszkiewicz, M., Beaton, C., Johnson, C.P., Waible II, S., Dubois, A.L., Klemmer, A., Kiebish, M. and Townsend, K.L., 2019. A peroxidized omega-3-enriched polyunsaturated diet leads to adipose and metabolic dysfunction. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry64, pp.50-60.

Dissertation Mentor


Joshua Kelley