Almost all cells in an animal or plant contain exactly the same genes, but not all of those genes are turned "on". Development is mostly a process of turning genes on (that is, making RNA and protein from that gene) in some cells but not in others. Every gene is made up of two kinds of DNA sequences: the 'coding' sequences that contain instructions for making a protein, and non-coding sequences that determine which cells will express that gene. My lab studies those non-coding control sequences, also called enhancers, to figure out how genes are turned on and off in complex patterns during development.
I like pretty patterns of gene expression, and I like to figure out how those patterns are made.
There are many things about this job that I like, but the most important is that I can work on absolutely any question I think is interesting. The price to be paid is that we have to write grants, and it's not easy to get funding, but being free to choose my own problems to work on makes it worthwhile.
There are many good places to do research. One of my favorite things about U-M in general, and CDB in particular, is that it's an extremely interactive, friendly, and collaborative environment. There are no boundaries between labs, programs, or departments, so I can work with the best people and continue to learn new things.