PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University
BS in Neuroscience, Brown University
Achieving faithful representation of the external world in the brain is critical for the generation and maintenance of appropriate behavioral states in animals. The challenging task of accurately encoding different types of sensory information is accomplished in part via evolutionarily conserved specializations in receptor cells, neural properties and circuit architecture that are unique to each neurosensory system.
In the auditory system, hair cells in the inner ear convert mechanical energy to electric impulses, capturing complex features of sound stimuli with high fidelity. Spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs), the primary sensory neurons of the auditory system, then relay the signal to the brainstem. Precise encoding of the complete gamut of acoustic features by SGNs is critical to ensure lossless transfer of auditory information to the brain. Electrophysiological and electron microscopic studies spanning several decades suggest that rather than being mere conduits of electrical signals between cochlear hair cells and brainstem neurons, SGNs serve a more complex role in auditory perception by virtue of heterogeneity in their functional properties and connectivity patterns. My work aims to elucidate these and other aspects of SGN function and development in mice by combining cutting-edge genomics, molecular genetics, neuroanatomical dissection and behavioral assays.
Favorite ice cream flavor?
What superpower do you wish you had?
The ability to communicate with animals