BS in Psychology; BA in Plan II Honors, UT Austin
PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University
I have a longstanding interest in how the exquisite complexity of neural circuitry arises during development - and how early errors in that wiring, even if relatively subtle, can have potentially profound and lasting effects on brain function. With their relatively stereotyped wiring for sensory stimulus transduction, sensory systems provide us with a valuable tool for studying how axons navigate to and appropriately innervate their targets in the nervous system. I am using the mouse auditory system, specifically the development of reciprocal connections between the peripheral sense organ and the central nervous system, to explore how axons communicate with each other and use each other for mutual growth and guidance in early brain development. Axon-axon interactions are one of the most intriguing aspects of neural circuit development, our understanding of which remains limited. Therefore, I am using molecular genetics, imaging, and neuroanatomical approaches to better understand the molecular mechanisms of selective fasciculation and defasciculation of axons from different cohorts of neurons, and how the growth and guidance choices of one cohort of axons affects those of another cohort.
What superpower do you wish you had?
I wish I could breathe underwater and communicate with aquatic animals (mostly turtles and humpback whales).
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Mexican vanilla bean from Amy's Ice Cream in Austin, TX