Research in this laboratory at the University of Montana is focused on the molecular mechanisms controlling intracellular membrane fusion in health and disease. We are especially interested in the function, regulation, and protein interactions of SNAP receptors (SNAREs) and other molecular machinery involved in endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi vesicle transport in mammalian cells. Another major focus of our research involves specialized membrane trafficking events in neuronal cells. Our lab investigates vesicle transport using a wide range of techniques, including in vitro reconstitution of transport processes, subcellular fractionation, analysis of protein interactions using purified components, immunofluorescence and electron microscopy.

The lab is located on the third floor of the Health Science Building (HS301) on the lovely Missoula campus, ranked the most scenic campus in America by Rolling Stone . We interact scientifically with other members of the Division of Biological Sciences and the NIH-COBRE Center for Structural & Functional Neuroscience. These interactions include weekly data and journal clubs as well as the use and development of common facilities. Although almost all of the equipment we need is found within the Hay lab, we enjoy the occasional use of outstanding new core facilities on campus, including electron microscopy, confocal imaging, mass spectrometry, flow cytometry, DNA Sequencing, spectroscopy cores for structural biology and many others. The Hay lab participates in several graduate programs, including Cellular, Molecular & Microbial Biology, Neuroscience and Biochemistry & Biophysics. The campus is characterized by an unusual degree of collegiality among scientists at all levels.

Missoula is a world-class environment for quality of life and outdoor recreation, lying in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. We enjoy unexpected city amenities for a community of this size (100,000 including surroundings) together with outstanding skiing and snowboarding (15 minutes from campus), hiking and climbing (trails leave directly from Missoula into National Forests and National Recreation Areas), whitewater rafting and fly fishing (the Clark Fork of the Columbia River runs through it) and camping. Missoula is situated midway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, 3-4 hours from either, and many other wonderful Montana attractions. Seattle is the nearest large metropolis, lying 480 miles (6-8 hours) west on I-90. Missoula enjoys unexpectedly mild winters thanks to its position west of the Continental Divide, and is sometimes hot but never humid in the summer.

Below are some pictures of our living environment and our lab enjoying where we live.

Campus View

Missoula Canyon

Campus During Autumn

Snowbowl trail map

Our local ski hill, on the outskirts of town, has been written up by Ski Magazene

MT Wilderness

Montana wilderness within easy reach