Departments: Biology, Neuroscience
Teaching: Foundations of Neuroscience, Biology Junior Seminar
Research: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Degrees: B.A., Oberlin College
Ph.D., Cornell University
Office Location: Steffee Hall B.319
Student Office Hours:
Mondays: 3 – 5 pm
Wednesdays: 3 – 4 pm
Thursdays: 10:30 am – 12 pm
Fridays: 2 – 4 pm
And by appointment. Sign up via Google Calendar. I invite you to wear a mask to attend in-person office hours. If you do not wish to wear a mask during office hours, please join me on Zoom.
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. I am interested in how various chemicals- both natural toxins and pathogens as well as human-made compounds affect neuronal signaling by targeting ion channels. For example, one project involves a type of ion channel called the BK channel and its possible role in the pathology of 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. I am also pursuing how chemicals used as anesthetics may interact with ion channels.
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.
Dr. French honored at the Basketball Faculty Appreciation Night