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I’m interested in how neural circuits generate behavior. In the Branson lab, I work on developing assays for quantitative behavioral analysis of fruit flies to discover the function of different brain regions in the Drosophila melanogaster central nervous system. Using thermogenetic techniques to manipulate neural activity, we've created a brain-behavior map of the fruit fly brain. To probe the function of individual neuronal cell types, I'm using optogenetics to drive cell activity in a temporally controlled manner.
I did my Ph.D. work in the laboratory of Michael Dickinson, where I studied the sensory cues walking fruit flies use to shape their behavior while exploring a topologically complex arena. Kristin and I began our collaboration combining computer vision and biology while at Caltech and there developed the first walking behavioral assay using Ctrax. My interest in neural circuits and their function was sparked by my undergraduate work in the laboratory of Eve Marder, studying the STG circuit. I was convinced of the power of invertebrate models for the study of neural circuit function but also motivated to find a model organism with behaviors I could see!
B.S., Brandeis University, Waltham
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena