Born in a family of space engineers, Chuntao was initially drawn to cosmology. Thinking it would be quite difficult to top Newton and Einstein, he found a new calling in the mysteries of life and came to the States to study the molecular machinery and network making cells work. Inspired by Francis Crick's book, Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, Chuntao jumped to neuroscience and decided to explore how neural circuits control behavior in a genetically tractable and simple model system with a rich repertoire of behavioral paradigms. He zeroed in on Drosophila and developed a system to conduct large-scale quantitative examination of neural activity in the brains of head-fixed near-intact adult Drosophila. Currently he is combining neural imaging with molecular genetics and quantitative behavioral tracking to investigate how the brain makes complex cognitive decisions to direct high-level behavior on-the-fly.
B.S., Peking University, Beijing, China (1995)
Ph.D., Columbia University, New York (2002)