Our laboratories host graduate students from a variety of PhD programs for short-term rotations to introduce them to the many flavors of research conducted in the department. Below is a list of labs that are accepting rotation students in academic year 2021-2022. Inquiries should be directed to PIs.
Spinal and brainstem circuits for movement
Posture is intimately dependent on signals from the inner ear, but we understand very little about how that information is mapped onto motor outputs. The Bagnall Lab studies how sensory information about orientation and movement drives appropriate body movements to adjust posture.
Neural repair mechanisms
The primary goal of the Cavalli Lab is to unravel the molecular events that dictate the regenerative response of neurons in the peripheral nervous system and to relate this information to the lack of regenerative capacity in the central nervous system. The lab’s proposed research has broad clinical impact, since axonal damage can occur in traumatic spinal cord injury, stroke, and many neurodegenerative diseases.
Neuromodulation, sleep & learning
PI: Yao Chen, PhD
The Chen Lab attempts to fill the gap between molecular neuroscience and animal behavior by elucidating the spatial and temporal dynamics of biological signals, because their dynamics carry critical information that explain subsequent modifications of cells, circuits, and behavior. Specifically, the lab aims to understand how the dynamics of neuromodulators and intracellular signals contribute to the function of neuromodulators, to learning, and to the function of sleep.
Neuronal mechanisms of perception
How do you make sense of what you see? The patterns of light that the eyes receive are ambiguous. Consider the wavelength of reflected light: this could either indicate the color of the reflecting surface, or that of the incident light. The brain thus needs to actively reconstruct a representation of the external world. The Franken laboratory studies the brain circuits that perform these computations, using behavioral, electrophysiological, optical and viral targeting approaches.
Epigenetic mechanisms in the brain
The Gabel Lab studies molecular mechanisms of gene regulation that contribute to development and plasticity in the mammalian brain, and how disruption of these mechanisms can lead to neurological disease.
The Goodhill Lab is interested in how brains process information, particularly during development. Our current focus is on the development of neural coding in the zebrafish brain. We are addressing this using a combination of behavioral analysis, calcium imaging of neural activity, and mathematical/computational modeling.
Learning & memory in the hippocampus
PI: Edward Han, PhD
The Han lab studies learning and memory processes in the hippocampus. The lab investigates the cellular and neuronal circuit activity supporting spatial navigation learning in mice. Major approaches in the lab include in vivo two- photon calcium imaging during virtual reality behavioral tasks, in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, and computational modeling.
Olfactory circuits, technology & computation
The Holy Lab combines a focus on understanding circuits and behavior with a willingness to pioneer new technologies to address the major challenges in the field. The lab’s major scientific focus is on the olfactory system of mice. We choose this system because it presents a tractable “playground” for so many of the questions of modern neuroscience.
Reverse engineering cognition: Neurons to psychiatry
PI: Adam Kepecs, PhD
The long-term goal of the Kepecs Lab is to reverse engineer the computational and neurobiological processes underlying cognition and decision-making and apply these insights to biological psychiatry.
Neuroimmunology & microglial biology
The Li Lab is broadly interested in neuroimmunology with a focus on microglial biology. Particularly, the lab is interested in combining cutting-edge single-cell genomic technologies with in vitro and in vivo genetic, molecular and cellular tools to investigate microglial development, heterogeneity and mechanisms of neuro-immune interactions underlying brain structure and disease.
Neuronal basis of voluntary behavior
The Monosov Lab is interested in the neuronal basis of voluntary behavior. What are the neuronal mechanisms that control exploration and learning? How do different attributes of behavioral-options impact our decision-making?
Neuronal cell biology
Research in the Nonet Lab focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating neuronal synapse development. The lab addresses this complex problem using a combination of genetic, molecular and image techniques using both the nematode C. elegans and the teleost Danio rerio.
Neuronal mechanisms of economic choices
Research in the Padoa-Schioppa Lab focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms of economic choice (a.k.a. neuroeconomics). The lab combines behavioral, neurophysiological and computational techniques to understand how the brain makes decisions.
Astrocytes in brain circuits & cognition
Since its inception, neuroscience has focused on neurons as the single most relevant cellular component of the nervous system for understanding its inner workings. Yet, parts of the mammalian brain are only comprised of 10-20% of neurons. The Papouin lab explores the role played by the remaining 80-90% of “non-neuronal” cells, called glial cells, in brain function. The lab is interested in understanding the role of a glial subtype, astrocytes, in brain function from the perspective of brain states.
Development, plasticity & function of the cerebral cortex
PI: Linda Richards AO, FAA, FAHMS, PhD, department chair
The Richards Lab focuses on the development, plasticity and function of long-range connections of the cerebral cortex. The corpus callosum is the largest fibre tract in the brain of placental mammals and connects neurons in each cortical hemisphere. The lab investigates how cellular and molecular/genetic mechanisms regulate brain wiring during development and how brain wiring is altered in congenital corpus callosum dysgenesis (CCD).
Sleep & plasticity
PI: Paul Shaw, PhD
The Shaw Lab uses the genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster to elucidate the molecular mechanisms linking sleep to neuronal plasticity. The lab has demonstrated that we can fully restore cognitive functioning to a diverse set of classic memory mutants simply by enhancing their sleep. In these experiments, sleep was able to reverse cognitive deficits without restoring the causal molecular lesion or structural defect. In addition sleep reversed cognitive deficits in two separate models of Alzheimer’s disease.
Small circuits underlying behavior
The Snyder Lab studies small circuits underlying cognition in the non-human primate model. Currently, the lab has projects involving spatial representation, memory and movement; eye-hand and bimanual coordination; and correlation-based functional connectivity.
Circadian neural circuits
The Taghert Lab seeks to understand the organization, regulation and outputs of circadian neural circuits in the Drosophila brain. The lab takes advantage of the remarkable molecular genetic methods that are available with this model system.
Theoretical and computational neuroscience
PI: Gaia Tavoni, PhD
The Tavoni laboratory develops theories and models to understand how information is represented and processed in neuronal networks, and how brain computations adapt to changing environments and conditions. Areas of focus in the lab include coarse-grained and biophysical models of perceptual learning, statistical physics approaches to memory consolidation and retrieval, Bayesian and complexity theories of high-level cognition, and data-driven models of decision circuits.
Connectomics; Mapping cerebral cortex
The Van Essen Lab develops and uses computerized brain mapping techniques to study the structure, function, and development of cerebral cortex in humans and nonhuman primates. The lab is heavily engaged in the Human Connectome Project, a 5-year project to map human brain circuitry in healthy adults.
Brain development & disease
PI: Jason Yi, PhD
The Yi Lab studies the molecular pathways that govern how a new brain is constructed and wired for a lifetime of function. The long-term goal of our research is to uncover new treatments for developmental disorders such as autism, Angelman syndrome, and intellectual disability.