Departments: Biology, Neuroscience
Teaching: Foundations of Neuroscience, Biology Junior Seminar
Research: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Degrees: B.A., Oberlin College; Ph.D., Cornell University
My research interests fall under the general heading of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. I am interested in exploring what makes individual neurons unique from one another, how they “talk” to each other to transmit information in the nervous system, and how drugs and toxins affect their function. The projects in my lab involve both neurophysiology and molecular biology techniques.
Pharmacology is critical to the study of the nervous system; to learn how proteins such as ion channels contribute to normal function, and to discover the mechanism underlying pathological conditions. One project involves a genus of hunting snails whose venom is very complex and potent, acting solely on the prey’s nervous system. Many of the snail venom compounds have applications in medicine as well as in basic bench research. My goal is to find pharmacological agents that target some specific calcium and potassium ion channels in order to further understand the role these proteins play in the nervous system.
Another project involves the trafficking of a type of ion channel called the BK channel and its possible role in Alzheimer’s disease. The activity of this channel has been shown to be inhibited by a protein called Amyloid Beta. I’m interested in characterizing this interaction and discovering how the peptide affects the channel behavior.
Another line of research involves the crayfish as a model organism to study adult neurogenesis. We used to believe that the nervous system was only capable of producing new nerve cells during development, but we now know that neurogenesis is ongoing throughout animals’ lifetime in certain areas of the brain. I am interested in studying the mechanisms underlying this process and how it can be promoted or inhibited.