Current Projects

 

 
Light sheet image of a zebrafish larva expressing calcium indicator in neurons.

Light sheet image of a zebrafish larva expressing calcium indicator in neurons.

Neural Circuit Structure

The central nervous system contains thousands of neurons, each of which ultimately achieves a specific functional fate.  How are neurons recruited into specific neural circuits?  Are there fundamental organizing principles that are shared across different networks?  What are the consequences of these principles for behavior?

 
Facial motor neuron filled with fluorescent dye to highlight its dendritic arbor.

Facial motor neuron filled with fluorescent dye to highlight its dendritic arbor.

Circuit Development and Robustness

To support neural circuit function, each neuron needs to establish useful synaptic connections - with the sensory periphery, with other neurons, or with muscle effectors.  What strategies do neurons use to guide synaptic connectivity?  What role do these strategies play in shaping the landscape of neurodevelopmental disease?  And how do these strategies constrain and facilitate brain evolution?

 
Operculum (gill flap) of a larval zebrafish.  Its movement coordinates with the pectoral fins, to support respiration.

Operculum (gill flap) of a larval zebrafish.  Its movement coordinates with the pectoral fins, to support respiration.

Development of Respiratory Motor Coordination

Respiratory behaviors involve multiple muscles acting in concert, and the details of this motor coordination change across the animal's lifetime.   How are transitions during respiratory development reflected in the properties of neurons, populations, and networks across the brain?