Graduate Student, Program in Neuroscience
BA in Physics, St. Olaf College
Throughout the brain, feedback circuits continually refine both motor commands and sensory representations to ensure that animals can engage with their environments precisely and accurately. Precise responses to sensory stimuli are especially important in the sense of hearing, where minute differences in the timing and intensity of sounds are essential for speech recognition and sound localization. Feedback loops also play a major role in protecting the ear from hearing loss and expanding the range of volumes over which the auditory system can faithfully represent incoming sounds.
Unlike feedback loops in most other sensory systems, auditory feedback circuits extend all the way to the sensory periphery in the inner ear. The neurons conveying this auditory feedback are commonly called olivocochlear neurons (OCNs). My thesis work uses genomics, imaging, and molecular genetics to understand how OCNs affect the development and function of auditory circuitry.
Favorite ice cream flavor?
Mackinac Island Fudge (although sadly I have yet to find a place in Boston that sells this Midwestern staple)
Fictional universe you'd like to visit?
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Because who wouldn't want to live in a world with talking polar bears?