What is cell identity, and what will cause a shift in cell fate? Most important events in development and disease involve transitions between different cellular identities. For example, the zygote undergoes a series of differentiation events during mammalian development to generate various cell types. Usually, identity of a cell is defined by its lineage, morphology, and function, governed by its epigenetic landscape which determine the transcriptional program. However, despite the progress in stem cell research, how cell fate decisions are regulated and how a cell's identity can be shaped by the environment remains poorly understood. In the Schlesinger lab we aim to elucidate what are the intrinsic and environmental ques that control cell identity dynamics, and how can we use them to manipulate cell fate. Specifically, we wish to learn  what is distinct in the epigenetic regulation of stem cells,  how environmental stress affects cell fate, and  how we can utilize the data from aims 1 and 2 to develop biotechnological applications for the benefit of humans, animals, and the planet.