E. Lee Coates

Title: Emeritus Professor of Biology and Neuroscience
Primary Department: Biology
Other Programs: Neuroscience
Degrees: B.A., University of Montana; Ph.D., University of New Mexico School of Medicine

Lee received a B.A. in Zoology from the University of Montana in 1983, a Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of New Mexico in 1989, and conducted postdoctoral research in the department of Physiology at Dartmouth Medical School from 1989 to 1992. Lee teaches Animal Physiology, Sensory Neurobiology, Introductory Biology, and Foundations of Neuroscience I.

Lee’s general research interests are neurophysiology and sensory physiology. Specifically, he is interested in the neural and chemical control of breathing in vertebrates. In previous studies, he has shown that amphibians, reptiles, and mammals depress breathing when CO2 is elevated in the nasal cavities. This cessation of breathing is mediated by olfactory receptors that are sensitive to CO2. Many of his students are researching questions related to the function of this depression in breathing and the cellular mechanisms by which the nasal receptors detect CO2. Several students are also performing histological studies to determine the presence of the enzyme, carbonic anhydrase in the nasal cavities of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. It is thought that this enzyme is required for animals to detect elevated levels of nasal CO2. It is also believed that these nasal CO2 receptors may play a role in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Lee’s hobbies are whitewater kayaking and photography.