The goal of my research is to obtain high-resolution “snapshots” that reveal how a protein called dynein can act as a motor and ferry material along the length of a nerve cell. Within every nerve cell, materials are moved to and fro by motor proteins that grab hold of cargo molecules and carry them along molecular tracks called microtubules—components of the cellular scaffolding that provide the cell with structure and shape. Specifically, my laboratory is investigating the three-dimensional structure of dynein as it interacts with a collection of accessory proteins that help it secure its cargo and make its way along a microtubule. We have already obtained lower-resolution snapshots of the structures for some of the components of this transportation machine, defects in which have been linked to neurodegenerative and neurological disorders such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. A more refined picture of this system will provide an unprecedented, dynamic view of the operation of an important molecular machine, and could lead to the development of novel treatments for neurodegenerative disease.