Monday . . . .
Tuesday . . . .
Wednesday . . 8:15 - 9:30
Thursday. . . . 11:00 - 12:00
Friday. . . . . . Others by appt.
Biographical Information:I am a neurobiologist whose research focuses on brain and behavioral plasticity; in particular, on the factors that regulate the birth and survival of new neurons in the adult brain. We use the cricket as our model organism because, just like vertebrates, they maintain specific populations of neural progenitor cells that continue to divide and give rise to new neurons in the adult brain. These new neurons become integrated into the mushroom bodies, brain structures functionally analogous to the vertebrate hippocampus. Most recently, my research has focussed on 2 primary projects:
We recently reported that agonistic behavior can enhance neurogenesis. Following a fight, dominant male crickets have more newborn brain neurons than subordinate males. This is due to an enhanced suvival of newborn neurons in dominant males. Our goal is to identify the factors responsible for this effect of social status on adult neurogenesis. We are currently examining the role the immune system may play, not only in adult neurogenesis, but also in agonistic behavior and social status. Techniques we utilize in this project include behavioral analyses; immunohistochemistry; confocal microscopy; enzyme assays and HPLC-ECD.
The second focus in my laboratory is an investigation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow neural progenitors to maintain the capacity to divide and proliferate throughout adulthood. In particular, we have found that insect progenitors are similar to those of mammals in that they label with glial markers. We have been examining the microenvironment of these progenitors in order to determine the factors that regulate their ability to divide. We have also been examining the effects of injury on proliferation and neurogenesis. Techniques utilized in these studies include cell culture, immunocytochemistry, western blots and single cell electrophysiology. We plan to use RNAi to knock down the expression of the glial-specific proteins that we hypothesize may play a significant role in permitting these adult neuroblasts to remain mitotic.