Professor, Department of Biology
Ph.D. Brandeis University
B.S. Utah State
Research Interests: Specification and patterning of the vertebrate nervous system with a focus on developmental interactions between the nervous system, immune system, and host-associated microbiota
Overview: The vertebrate nervous system is composed of a large number of neurons with diverse characteristics that ultimately form the circuits that underlie an animal’s behavioral repertoire. We are interested in several aspects of this process including: 1) How neuronal diversity is generated during development: how are the correct number of cells specified for specific neural and glia fates at particular times and in particular locations? 2) How neuronal circuits are wired up: how do neurons make appropriate connections with their synaptic partners. 3) What are the roles of host-associated microbiota and the immune system during neural development: how do microbes associated with the host interact with the immune system and with the nervous system to shape neuronal architecture, circuitry, and function? We use an approach that combines cellular, molecular, genetic, and microbiological manipulations with live imaging in zebrafish to investigate these questions with the goal of understanding the mechanisms underlying neural development.