NPB in the News https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss NPB in the News for Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior en Bumblebees Carry Heavy Loads in Economy Mode https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/bumblebees-carry-heavy-loads-economy-mode-0 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Bumblebees Carry Heavy Loads in Economy Mode</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype=""> (not verified)</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">February 05, 2020</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/loadedbee1_andrew_crop.jpg?h=45d98b51&amp;itok=I7gzxDFB" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of a bumble bee in flight" title="Bumblebees can fly while carrying up to their body weight in nectar. A new study from UC Davis shows that bees can choose to use an energy-efficient economy mode of flight for heavy loads. (Photo by Andrew M. Mountcastle)" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Written by Andy Fell Bumblebees are the big lifters of the insect world, able to fly back to the hive with almost their own body weight in nectar on board. A study published Feb. 5 in Science Advances shows how they do it — and that bees can show more flexibility in behavior than you might expect from a bumbling insect.  “They can carry 60, 70 or 80 percent of their body weight flying, which would be a huge load for us just walking around,” said researcher Susan Gagliardi, a research associate in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis. “We were curious to see how they do it and how much it costs them to carry food and supplies back to the hive.” Gagliardi and Stacey Combes, associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, measured the energy expended by bumblebees flying in a specially designed chamber — an emptied snowglobe. They attached small pieces of solder wire to the bees to adjust their weight.  “We have the bees in a little chamber and we measure the carbon dioxide they produce. They are mostly burning sugar so you can tell directly how much sugar they are using as they are flying,” Gagliardi said. They also used high-speed video to examine wing beats and movements.    Bumblebees fly in a very different way than aircraft do, Combes said. While air flows smoothly over an aircraft wing or rotor blade, bees move their wings at a high angle to the air, generating vortices that curl around the wing. This produces more lift than smooth airflow, but it is unstable as the vortices quickly break down. Bees sustain flight by moving their wings very rapidly.  Two modes of flight Because bumblebees fuel flight from the nectar they carry, they should get lighter as they fly and use less energy. To their surprise, Combes and Gagliardi found that the bees used less energy per unit load when they were more heavily laden. “They get more economical in flying the more heavily loaded they are, which doesn’t make any sense in terms of energetics,” Combes said. Looking closely, the researchers found that bumblebees have two different ways to cope with increasing loads. They always increase stroke amplitude, or how far the wings flap, when they are more heavily loaded, but this isn’t enough to support the extra weight on its own.  To make up the difference, bees increase wingbeat frequency, which generates more lift and increases energetic cost.  But bees also have an alternative, subtly different flying mode that allows them to carry heavier loads while expending less energy than when they increase flapping frequency.  It’s not yet clear exactly what this “economy mode” involves, Combes said, although it may involve a change in how the wing rotates to reverse direction between strokes. But it is something the bees can chose to do, or not.  “It turns out to be a behavioral choice they are making in terms of how they support the load,” Combes said. When bees are lightly loaded or rested, they are more likely to increase wingbeat frequency. When they are more heavily loaded, they switch to the mysterious economy mode, producing enough force to support the load with only a small increase, or even a decrease, in flapping frequency.  Economy and stability If the bees can save energy while flying, why don’t they use this economy mode all the time? It’s not clear, but it may be that high wingbeat frequency has performance advantages, for example in maintaining stability in turbulent air or avoiding obstacles, Combes said.  The work has prompted a shift in how Combes sees insects, she said.  “When I started in this field there was a tendency to see them as little machines, we thought they’ll flap their wings one way when carrying zero load, another way when they’re carrying 50 percent load and every bee will do it the same way every time,” she said. “This has given us an appreciation that it’s a behavior, they choose what to do. Even the same bee on a different day will pick a new way to flap its wings.”   Additional authors on the paper are Callin Switzer, University of Washington, Seattle; and Michael Dillon, University of Wyoming, Laramie. The work was partly supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Written by Andy Fell Bumblebees are the big lifters of the insect world, able to fly back to the hive with almost their own body weight in nectar on board. A study published Feb. 5 in Science Advances shows how they do it — and that bees can show more flexibility in behavior than you might expect from a bumbling insect. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Written by Andy Fell</p> <p>Bumblebees are the big lifters of the insect world, able to fly back to the hive with almost their own body weight in nectar on board. A study published Feb. 5 in <em><a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/6/eaay3115">Science Advances</a></em> shows how they do it — and that bees can show more flexibility in behavior than you might expect from a bumbling insect. </p> <p>“They can carry 60, 70 or 80 percent of their body weight flying, which would be a huge load for us just walking around,” said researcher Susan Gagliardi, a research associate in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis. “We were curious to see how they do it and how much it costs them to carry food and supplies back to the hive.”</p> <p>Gagliardi and Stacey Combes, associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, measured the energy expended by bumblebees flying in a specially designed chamber — an emptied snowglobe. They attached small pieces of solder wire to the bees to adjust their weight. </p> <p>“We have the bees in a little chamber and we measure the carbon dioxide they produce. They are mostly burning sugar so you can tell directly how much sugar they are using as they are flying,” Gagliardi said.</p> <p>They also used high-speed video to examine wing beats and movements. </p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 74.946%"><iframe width="459" height="344" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3tl7SpSf3T4?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> <p>Bumblebees fly in a very different way than aircraft do, Combes said. While air flows smoothly over an aircraft wing or rotor blade, bees move their wings at a high angle to the air, generating vortices that curl around the wing. This produces more lift than smooth airflow, but it is unstable as the vortices quickly break down. Bees sustain flight by moving their wings very rapidly. </p> <h2>Two modes of flight</h2> <p>Because bumblebees fuel flight from the nectar they carry, they should get lighter as they fly and use less energy. To their surprise, Combes and Gagliardi found that the bees used less energy per unit load when they were more heavily laden.</p> <p>“They get more economical in flying the more heavily loaded they are, which doesn’t make any sense in terms of energetics,” Combes said.</p> <p>Looking closely, the researchers found that bumblebees have two different ways to cope with increasing loads. They always increase stroke amplitude, or how far the wings flap, when they are more heavily loaded, but this isn’t enough to support the extra weight on its own.  To make up the difference, bees increase wingbeat frequency, which generates more lift and increases energetic cost. </p> <p>But bees also have an alternative, subtly different flying mode that allows them to carry heavier loads while expending less energy than when they increase flapping frequency. </p> <p>It’s not yet clear exactly what this “economy mode” involves, Combes said, although it may involve a change in how the wing rotates to reverse direction between strokes. But it is something the bees can chose to do, or not. </p> <p>“It turns out to be a behavioral choice they are making in terms of how they support the load,” Combes said. When bees are lightly loaded or rested, they are more likely to increase wingbeat frequency. When they are more heavily loaded, they switch to the mysterious economy mode, producing enough force to support the load with only a small increase, or even a decrease, in flapping frequency. </p> <h2>Economy and stability</h2> <p>If the bees can save energy while flying, why don’t they use this economy mode all the time? It’s not clear, but it may be that high wingbeat frequency has performance advantages, for example in maintaining stability in turbulent air or avoiding obstacles, Combes said. </p> <p>The work has prompted a shift in how Combes sees insects, she said. </p> <p>“When I started in this field there was a tendency to see them as little machines, we thought they’ll flap their wings one way when carrying zero load, another way when they’re carrying 50 percent load and every bee will do it the same way every time,” she said. “This has given us an appreciation that it’s a behavior, they choose what to do. Even the same bee on a different day will pick a new way to flap its wings.”  </p> <p>Additional authors on the paper are Callin Switzer, University of Washington, Seattle; and Michael Dillon, University of Wyoming, Laramie. The work was partly supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human &amp; Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/bumblebees" hreflang="en">bumblebees</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/combes" hreflang="en">Combes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 05 Feb 2020 23:23:10 +0000 Anonymous 646 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Perception Inception: Exploring How the Brain Makes Up the World with New Faculty Rishidev Chaudhuri https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/perception-inception-exploring-how-brain-makes-world-new-faculty-rishidev-chaudhuri <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Perception Inception: Exploring How the Brain Makes Up the World with New Faculty Rishidev Chaudhuri</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">November 20, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Rishidev-Chaudhuri-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-8.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=wDGPFnLn" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of Dr Chaudhuri" title="Assistant Professor Rishidev Chaudhuri holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, the Department of Mathematics and the Center for Neuroscience. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Rishidev Chaudhuri is a new faculty member who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, the Department of Mathematics and the Center for Neuroscience His research spans the field of neuroscience, from exploring theoretical principles of neural computation to analyzing large neural datasets, and other topics outside and in between He takes techniques from physics and mathematics and applies them to neuroscience The world is made of matter, but between those particles are empty spaces, which paradoxically account for the majority of our perceived, concrete universe. “This table feels hard,” said Assistant Professor Rishidev Chaudhuri, who sat in his office at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience. “That’s something that emerges at the collective population level.” How individual particles come together to spontaneously create new structures is a question pondered by many physicists. The concept underlying that question—collective behavior—also intrigues neuroscientists. Your brain is a collection of neurons. In isolation, a single neuron is practically useless, but when working in tandem with innumerable other neurons, the network quite literally creates the world, transforming the photons your eyes perceive into a seamless visual experience. “How does the brain create the world from all of those pieces?” wondered Chaudhuri, who holds joint appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the Department of Mathematics. Chaudhuri studies processing strategies in the brain using principles from mathematics and physics. His research spans the field of neuroscience, from exploring theoretical principles of neural computation to analyzing large neural datasets, and other topics outside and in between.  “The fact that the brain’s making the world, the world’s making the brain, that we’re in this constant, dynamical flux is super fascinating,” said Chaudhuri.     Chaudhuri uses theories from physics and mathematics to unravel the functions of the brain. David Slipher/UC DavisA physicist first Chaudhuri’s first academic love was physics. Questions about space and time suffused the academic field and swirled around Chaudhuri’s mind during his formative college years. Fascinated by complex systems, he soon began exploring how patterns and principles applied in physics could be applied to society, economics and even biology. “It seemed like all the interesting questions were in biology,” said Chaudhuri, who noted he was drawn to neuroscience because the field represented one of the frontiers of knowledge. “What algorithms is the brain running?” he said. “What information processing strategies? What kind of data structures? A lot of the questions you might ask in terms of a computer, except you’ve got this big, distributed, messy biological system with millions of neurons.”     After completing his undergraduate degree at Amherst College, Chaudhuri moved back to the Bangalore area in southern India, where he grew up. He wanted to pursue graduate studies but thought a break from school would help him determine his next academic steps. “I wanted to be an academic since I was six,” said Chaudhuri. “I wanted to take some space and just think about things.”  Between his undergrad and grad years, Chaudhuri spent time working as a journalist and silkworm farmer. PixabayHe spent time hiking the Himalayas and working as a journalist and silkworm farmer. After being accepted into an applied mathematics graduate program at Yale University, he returned to the United States. Yet biology was still in Chaudhuri’s sights. His thesis work concerned the neocortex, the part of the mammalian brain responsible for sensory perception, language and consciousness, among other higher functions. Using mathematical modeling, Chaudhuri tried to create a bridge between the different anatomical features of the neocortex and its various functions. “As you move from the back of the brain to the front of the brain, neurons change their shapes; they change the number of connections; they change their receptor types,” he said. “But there seem to be almost smooth gradients so they change gradually and that kind of anatomical variation helps create the functional variations.”      After graduation, Chaudhuri rotated through a handful of postdoctoral positions. He was a Google Research Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, a postdoctoral associate at New York University’s Center for Neural Science and a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Learning and Memory. In April 2019, he joined the UC Davis faculty. Seeking the “Rosetta Stone” of math-physics-biology Chaudhuri is in the midst of setting up his lab at UC Davis. Unlike a wet lab, his space isn’t outfitted with workbenches and chemicals. Instead, it’s equipped with computers, which Chaudhuri uses to mathematically model neurological phenomena. Working with his Center for Neuroscience colleagues, Chaudhuri performs research that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Active research threads include spatial mapping in the brain, memory retrieval and the effect of sleep on the brain. “You’re trying to build a theory and the right language for that is often mathematical,” said Chaudhuri of his work. “Can I describe the response of this neuron to some input in terms of an equation? Once I’ve done that, does the equation tell me something about what another neuron is doing or how these neurons are talking to each other or what the system is doing?” While creating a new research world for himself at UC Davis, Chaudhuri is looking for students to assist his research efforts. David Slipher/UC DavisIn a study recently published in Nature Neuroscience, Chaudhuri and his collaborators used neural activity data recorded from the brains of mice to learn about how the brain locates and identifies the direction of the body in space and how waking experiences are reinforced during sleep. In another study, Chaudhuri and other colleagues proposed theories about the brain’s mechanisms for retrieving memories. “You need to remember a tremendous number of things; why don’t those things overwrite each other?” he said. “How should they be stored so as to keep them separate?” To create their models, the team was inspired by error-correcting codes used in internet and telephone communications. “There’s this beautiful mathematical theory around error-correction and it turns out that you can map some of that theory to memory,” said Chaudhuri.  “Error-correcting codes,” he continued, “add redundancy to a signal, so that it can be recovered even if some pieces are missing or corrupted. A simple way to add redundancy is just to repeat the message (or memory) multiple times, but this strategy is inefficient. It turns out there are much cleverer strategies, that are both redundant and highly efficient, and we showed that the brain could in principle use some of these.” Chaudhuri is now launching new projects. While creating a new research world for himself at UC Davis, he&#039;s looking for students to join his research efforts. For inspiration, Chaudhuri often looks to the discipline of philosophy. The musings of Immanuel Kant and William James, among others, provide fodder for his neuroscience research. “I see philosophy as a way of generating ideas as opposed to a way of telling you what’s true,” said Chaudhuri. “The philosophers I like are the ones who push me to think about a problem in a new way.” “There’s a lot of scope for that in thinking about the brain.”  Chaudhuri studies processing strategies in the brain using principles from mathematics and physics. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Rishidev Chaudhuri is a new faculty member who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, the Department of Mathematics and the Center for Neuroscience His research spans the field of neuroscience, from exploring theoretical principles of neural computation to analyzing large neural datasets, and other topics outside and in between" } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Rishidev Chaudhuri is a new faculty member who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, the Department of Mathematics and the Center for Neuroscience</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>His research spans the field of neuroscience, from exploring theoretical principles of neural computation to analyzing large neural datasets, and other topics outside and in between</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>He takes techniques from physics and mathematics and applies them to neuroscience</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><h5>The world is made of matter, but between those particles are empty spaces, which paradoxically account for the majority of our perceived, concrete universe.</h5> <p>“This table feels hard,” said Assistant Professor Rishidev Chaudhuri, who sat in his office at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience. “That’s something that emerges at the collective population level.”</p> <p>How individual particles come together to spontaneously create new structures is a question pondered by many physicists. The concept underlying that question—collective behavior—also intrigues neuroscientists.</p> <p>Your brain is a collection of neurons. In isolation, a single neuron is practically useless, but when working in tandem with innumerable other neurons, the network quite literally creates the world, transforming the photons your eyes perceive into a seamless visual experience.</p> <p>“How does the brain create the world from all of those pieces?” wondered Chaudhuri, who holds joint appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the Department of Mathematics.</p> <p>Chaudhuri studies processing strategies in the brain using principles from mathematics and physics. His research spans the field of neuroscience, from exploring theoretical principles of neural computation to analyzing large neural datasets, and other topics outside and in between. </p> <blockquote> <p>“The fact that the brain’s making the world, the world’s making the brain, that we’re in this constant, dynamical flux is super fascinating,” said Chaudhuri.    </p> </blockquote> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of books and a laptop on ta table" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="0392ff0f-abbf-44a8-b695-55e849e62ab8" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Rishidev-Chaudhuri-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-10.jpg" /><figcaption>Chaudhuri uses theories from physics and mathematics to unravel the functions of the brain. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>A physicist first</strong></h4> <p>Chaudhuri’s first academic love was physics. Questions about space and time suffused the academic field and swirled around Chaudhuri’s mind during his formative college years. Fascinated by complex systems, he soon began exploring how patterns and principles applied in physics could be applied to society, economics and even biology.</p> <p>“It seemed like all the interesting questions were in biology,” said Chaudhuri, who noted he was drawn to neuroscience because the field represented one of the frontiers of knowledge.</p> <blockquote> <p>“What algorithms is the brain running?” he said. “What information processing strategies? What kind of data structures? A lot of the questions you might ask in terms of a computer, except you’ve got this big, distributed, messy biological system with millions of neurons.”    </p> </blockquote> <p>After completing his undergraduate degree at Amherst College, Chaudhuri moved back to the Bangalore area in southern India, where he grew up. He wanted to pursue graduate studies but thought a break from school would help him determine his next academic steps.</p> <p>“I wanted to be an academic since I was six,” said Chaudhuri. “I wanted to take some space and just think about things.” </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of a silkworm" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="2c46fd18-8a5f-469f-8884-3f3b92231a50" height="188" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Silkworm-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" width="320" /><figcaption>Between his undergrad and grad years, Chaudhuri spent time working as a journalist and silkworm farmer. Pixabay</figcaption></figure><p>He spent time hiking the Himalayas and working as a journalist and silkworm farmer. After being accepted into an applied mathematics graduate program at Yale University, he returned to the United States.</p> <p>Yet biology was still in Chaudhuri’s sights. His thesis work concerned the neocortex, the part of the mammalian brain responsible for sensory perception, language and consciousness, among other higher functions. Using mathematical modeling, Chaudhuri tried to create a bridge between the different anatomical features of the neocortex and its various functions.</p> <p>“As you move from the back of the brain to the front of the brain, neurons change their shapes; they change the number of connections; they change their receptor types,” he said. “But there seem to be almost smooth gradients so they change gradually and that kind of anatomical variation helps create the functional variations.”     </p> <p>After graduation, Chaudhuri rotated through a handful of postdoctoral positions. He was a Google Research Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, a postdoctoral associate at New York University’s Center for Neural Science and a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Learning and Memory. In April 2019, he joined the UC Davis faculty.</p> <h4><strong>Seeking the “Rosetta Stone” of math-physics-biology</strong></h4> <p>Chaudhuri is in the midst of setting up his lab at UC Davis. Unlike a wet lab, his space isn’t outfitted with workbenches and chemicals. Instead, it’s equipped with computers, which Chaudhuri uses to mathematically model neurological phenomena. Working with his Center for Neuroscience colleagues, Chaudhuri performs research that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Active research threads include spatial mapping in the brain, memory retrieval and the effect of sleep on the brain.</p> <blockquote> <p>“You’re trying to build a theory and the right language for that is often mathematical,” said Chaudhuri of his work. “Can I describe the response of this neuron to some input in terms of an equation? Once I’ve done that, does the equation tell me something about what another neuron is doing or how these neurons are talking to each other or what the system is doing?”</p> </blockquote> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="Picture of Dr Chaudhuri" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="13ecc56b-dd99-43ad-918c-0c80ca23545a" height="294" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Rishidev-Chaudhuri-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-11.jpg" width="196" /><figcaption><br /> While creating a new research world for himself at UC Davis, Chaudhuri is looking for students to assist his research efforts. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p>In a study recently published in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-019-0460-x"><em>Nature Neuroscience</em></a><em>, </em>Chaudhuri and his collaborators used neural activity data recorded from the brains of mice to learn about how the brain locates and identifies the direction of the body in space and how waking experiences are reinforced during sleep. In another <a href="https://nips.cc/Conferences/2019/Schedule?showEvent=13849">study</a>, Chaudhuri and other colleagues proposed theories about the brain’s mechanisms for retrieving memories.</p> <p>“You need to remember a tremendous number of things; why don’t those things overwrite each other?” he said. “How should they be stored so as to keep them separate?”</p> <p>To create their models, the team was inspired by error-correcting codes used in internet and telephone communications. “There’s this beautiful mathematical theory around error-correction and it turns out that you can map some of that theory to memory,” said Chaudhuri. </p> <p>“Error-correcting codes,” he continued, “add redundancy to a signal, so that it can be recovered even if some pieces are missing or corrupted. A simple way to add redundancy is just to repeat the message (or memory) multiple times, but this strategy is inefficient. It turns out there are much cleverer strategies, that are both redundant and highly efficient, and we showed that the brain could in principle use some of these.”</p> <p>Chaudhuri is now launching new projects. While creating a new research world for himself at UC Davis, he's looking for students to join his research efforts.</p> <p>For inspiration, Chaudhuri often looks to the discipline of philosophy. The musings of Immanuel Kant and William James, among others, provide fodder for his neuroscience research.</p> <blockquote> <p>“I see philosophy as a way of generating ideas as opposed to a way of telling you what’s true,” said Chaudhuri. “The philosophers I like are the ones who push me to think about a problem in a new way.”</p> </blockquote> <p>“There’s a lot of scope for that in thinking about the brain.” </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of Dr. Chaudhuri at a computer" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="173309e6-5305-4460-a9f1-5d2c85514435" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Rishidev-Chaudhuri-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>Chaudhuri studies processing strategies in the brain using principles from mathematics and physics. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/science-technology" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Technology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/department-mathematics" hreflang="en">Department of Mathematics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/mathematics" hreflang="en">mathematics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/physics" hreflang="en">physics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/brain-research" hreflang="en">brain research</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurons" hreflang="en">neurons</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/computer-modeling" hreflang="en">computer modeling</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/computer-science" hreflang="en">computer science</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/quantitative-biology" hreflang="en">quantitative biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Neuroscience Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/new-faculty" hreflang="en">new faculty</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/uc-davis-college-letters-and-science" hreflang="en">UC Davis College of Letters and Science</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 20 Nov 2019 22:40:28 +0000 Greg Watry 631 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Developing Next-Gen Neuroscientists: EEOP Receives $1.2 Million to Advance Diversity in Research https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/developing-next-gen-neuroscientists-eeop-receives-12-million-advance-diversity-research <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Developing Next-Gen Neuroscientists: EEOP Receives $1.2 Million to Advance Diversity in Research</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">September 24, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Biology-Undergraduate-Scholars-Program-College-of-Biological-Sciecnes-UC-Davis-1500-2_0.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=psP5qYXM" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of BUSP managers" title="EEOP Director Connie Champagne, right, stands with (from left to right) Professor Aldrin Gomes and students Leib Lipowsky and Tayler Smith, who are part of the Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program. BUSP will act as a feeder program to ADNR. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Educational Enrichment and Outreach Programs will launch the Advancing Diversity in Neuroscience Research Program this fall Aimed at undergraduates, the program introduces students to a breadth of neuroscience research Students involved in the program will attend weekly seminars and hold an undergraduate research position in a lab on campus Consciousness, perception, memory, behavior. Questions about how exactly our brains carry out these functions, and much more, have long tantalized neuroscientists. Definitive answers aren’t easy to come by in science, but one thing is clear to Professor W. Martin Usrey, of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.   “Science is better when there are more diverse opinions and viewpoints that are feeding into it,” said Usrey, the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology. This fall, the College of Biological Sciences will launch the Advancing Diversity in Neuroscience Research (ADNR) Program to help grow diversity in biomedical, behavioral and clinical neuroscience research professions. The program is funded by a roughly $1.2 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The college will welcome the program’s first 10 undergraduates this upcoming quarter. “There’s a lot of reasons why we are well-poised to foster undergraduate research in the field of neuroscience,” said Connie Champagne, director of Educational Enrichment and Outreach Programs (EEOP), who praised the faculty and research of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “With all those ingredients there, it just made perfect sense to put them all together.” Researchers hope to gain a better visual perspective of the molecular mechanisms of the brain&#039;s continual rearrangement of neuronal connections, known collectively as brain plasticity. Gerry ShawExploring a world of research possibilities During its first year, students in the program will participate in a weekly seminar series, with presentations given by UC Davis faculty in the neuroscience field. Champagne said the series is meant to help students hone in on research areas of interest. Based on those interests, students will be paired with a faculty mentor and work in their lab. “They’ll be paid as employees for winter and spring quarters and then, in addition to working on their research, they’ll take a professional development course,” said Champagne, noting that students will learn about proper research conduct, the ABCs of applying to graduate school and different career paths in neuroscience, among other topics. In addition to a faculty mentor, undergraduate students will receive mentorship from a student in the Neuroscience Graduate Group. “This also gives the graduate students the opportunity to expand on their budding mentorship skills,” said Champagne. The program will expand after its first academic year, with the addition of the ADNR Honors Program, which will be geared towards upper-division students. “When the program is finally in full swing, we’ll have funding for 10 sophomore students at a time, plus five juniors, and then eventually five seniors,” said Champagne. “The upper-division component will be a 24-month program.” Cultivating mentorship, Aggie style Students will also have the opportunity to attend major neuroscience conferences, like the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. “Our graduate students will be like the big brother/big sister to help the undergraduates navigate around, be someone they can to talk to, meet up with for coffee,” said Usrey. “Our graduate students are really excited.” The ADNR Program and the ADNR Honors Program will join a network of programs run by EEOP. This year’s students were selected from the Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program, which helps students from diverse backgrounds acclimate to campus life. As the programs expand, the upper-division will begin accepting applications from eligible students regardless of whether they participated in a lower-division program. “We want to make sure that we’re are encouraging as many students as possible,” said Champagne. Professor W. Martin Usrey is the chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Educational Enrichment and Outreach Programs will launch the Advancing Diversity in Neuroscience Research Program this fall Aimed at undergraduates, the program introduces students to a breadth of neuroscience research Students involved in the program will attend weekly seminars and hold an undergraduate research position in a lab on cam" } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em>Educational Enrichment and Outreach Programs will launch the Advancing Diversity in Neuroscience Research Program this fall</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>Aimed at undergraduates, the program introduces students to a breadth of neuroscience research</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>Students involved in the program will attend weekly seminars and hold an undergraduate research position in a lab on campus</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>Consciousness, perception, memory, behavior. Questions about how exactly our brains carry out these functions, and much more, have long tantalized</p> <p>neuroscientists. Definitive answers aren’t easy to come by in science, but one thing is clear to Professor W. Martin Usrey, of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.  </p> <blockquote> <p>“Science is better when there are more diverse opinions and viewpoints that are feeding into it,” said Usrey, the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology.</p> </blockquote> <p>This fall, the College of Biological Sciences will launch the Advancing Diversity in Neuroscience Research (ADNR) Program to help grow diversity in biomedical, behavioral and clinical neuroscience research professions. The program is funded by a roughly $1.2 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.</p> <p>The college will welcome the program’s first 10 undergraduates this upcoming quarter.</p> <p>“There’s a lot of reasons why we are well-poised to foster undergraduate research in the field of neuroscience,” said Connie Champagne, director of Educational Enrichment and Outreach Programs (EEOP), who praised the faculty and research of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “With all those ingredients there, it just made perfect sense to put them all together.”</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of neurons through a microscope" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="a22a2ab3-0757-419c-b038-237beca8f7be" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Neurons-.jpg" /><figcaption>Researchers hope to gain a better visual perspective of the molecular mechanisms of the brain's continual rearrangement of neuronal connections, known collectively as brain plasticity. Gerry Shaw</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Exploring a world of research possibilities</strong></h4> <p>During its first year, students in the program will participate in a weekly seminar series, with presentations given by UC Davis faculty in the neuroscience field. Champagne said the series is meant to help students hone in on research areas of interest. Based on those interests, students will be paired with a faculty mentor and work in their lab.</p> <p>“They’ll be paid as employees for winter and spring quarters and then, in addition to working on their research, they’ll take a professional development course,” said Champagne, noting that students will learn about proper research conduct, the ABCs of applying to graduate school and different career paths in neuroscience, among other topics.</p> <p>In addition to a faculty mentor, undergraduate students will receive mentorship from a student in the <a href="https://grad.neuroscience.ucdavis.edu/">Neuroscience Graduate Group</a>. “This also gives the graduate students the opportunity to expand on their budding mentorship skills,” said Champagne.</p> <p>The program will expand after its first academic year, with the addition of the ADNR Honors Program, which will be geared towards upper-division students.</p> <blockquote> <p>“When the program is finally in full swing, we’ll have funding for 10 sophomore students at a time, plus five juniors, and then eventually five seniors,” said Champagne. “The upper-division component will be a 24-month program.”</p> </blockquote> <h4><strong>Cultivating mentorship, Aggie style</strong></h4> <p>Students will also have the opportunity to attend major neuroscience conferences, like the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Our graduate students will be like the big brother/big sister to help the undergraduates navigate around, be someone they can to talk to, meet up with for coffee,” said Usrey. “Our graduate students are really excited.”</p> </blockquote> <p>The ADNR Program and the ADNR Honors Program will join a network of programs run by EEOP. This year’s students were selected from the <a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/BUSP-30th-Anniversary">Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program</a>, which helps students from diverse backgrounds acclimate to campus life. As the programs expand, the upper-division will begin accepting applications from eligible students regardless of whether they participated in a lower-division program.</p> <p>“We want to make sure that we’re are encouraging as many students as possible,” said Champagne.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of martin usrey" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="77fadedf-2c5f-4539-bbdd-963701b26a02" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4_0.jpg" /><figcaption>Professor W. Martin Usrey is the chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/department-neurobiology-physiology-and-behavior" hreflang="en">Department of Neurobiology Physiology and Behavior</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Neuroscience Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/busp" hreflang="en">BUSP</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/stem-education" hreflang="en">STEM education</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/diversity-stem" hreflang="en">Diversity in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology" hreflang="en">neurobiology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/awards" hreflang="en">awards</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 24 Sep 2019 19:43:59 +0000 Greg Watry 626 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Discovering Curiosity: Brain Puzzles with UC Davis Center for Neuroscience Director Kimberley McAllister https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/discovering-curiosity-brain-puzzles-uc-davis-center-neuroscience-director-kimberley-mcallister <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Discovering Curiosity: Brain Puzzles with UC Davis Center for Neuroscience Director Kimberley McAllister</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">August 16, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Kim-McAllister-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=TSsVn_gv" width="1280" height="720" alt="picture of kim next to the center for neuroscience sign" title="As director of the Center for Neuroscience, McAllister oversees roughly 25 labs housed at the interdisciplinary center, which is dedicated to understanding brain function in health and in illness throughout the lifespan. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Kimberley McAllister studies the developing brain Part of her research focuses on why viral infection during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of a child developing autism and schizophrenia McAllister was named director of the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience in 2018, becoming the first female to occupy the role Puzzles always fascinated UC Davis Center for Neuroscience Director Kimberley McAllister. They’re initially what attracted her to science. Raised in rural northern Virginia, McAllister enjoyed exploring the woods with her sister and dogs. She developed an avid interest in botany and ornithology, intrigued by the complexities of the natural world. She wanted to figure out answers to nature’s mysteries.  Eventually, McAllister’s ambition drew her to one of the most complex puzzles in the universe: the human brain. “Why are we able to do the amazing things that we can as humans when we start out as just a couple of cells?” said McAllister, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the UC Davis School of Medicine. “How does our brain change so much during development to become such a complex, beautiful structure in adulthood?”   A single neuron with thousands of synapses (yellow puncta on the cell), that transmit information within the brain. McAllister Lab / UC Davis Center for NeuroscienceA winding road to research Coming from a family of five generations of physicians, McAllister thought the best way to combine her love for science and her desire to help people was obvious. She’d follow in the family trade. She enrolled in the premed track at Davidson College, located in Davidson, N.C., but the brain caught her attention when she took a class called “Concept of the Mind in Victorian Literature and Biology.” “The idea that evolution not only changes biology, but can also change human consciousness by altering the structure and function of the brain is fascinating,” said McAllister, noting the class inspired her to join a lab studying memory in mice. “I found it incredibly exciting.”  Despite the lure of basic research, McAllister continued following the physician’s path and enrolled at the Duke University School of Medicine. After six months, she realized it wasn’t the right fit. “I approached the topics in my classes as a puzzle,” she said. “I wanted to know more and ask why. I read current papers on topics we covered in class. But the teachers wanted the answer they had told me, not the right answer that I had read in a recent paper. I found it incredibly frustrating.” “Plus,” she added, “I wanted to have a different kind of impact on patients’ lives, not by treating them one by one, but by changing the future of their diseases through developing new therapies.” McAllister realized this was the domain of basic science research. The realization caused her to question the path she was on. She took a leave of absence from her MD program and did some soul-searching. “My father, who was a proud physician, made this decision very difficult for me,” said McAllister. “He and his friends spent many hours telling me how I was ruining my life by giving up what I thought was my dream.” But it didn’t feel right. McAllister didn’t want to follow a rubric; she wanted to innovate and learn and discover. Remembering her curiosity about the brain, she phoned the chair of Duke’s neurobiology department and asked about a career in neuroscience. That fortuitous call led McAllister to a technician position in one of Duke’s new neuroscience labs. The experience convinced her. Basic research was the way to go. It was now in her blood. McAllister continued her studies and joined the fledgling neurobiology program at Duke. An early rotation in a “filler” lab studying visual system development changed her worldview. The idea that experience can change the shape of brain cells and their connections has driven her curiosity ever since. In 1996, McAllister graduated from Duke University with a Ph.D. in Neurobiology. She was one step closer to her future at UC Davis.  Of mice and molecules Using animal models, McAllister and her colleagues have discovered ways to predict why some pregnant fetuses are susceptible to immunogen exposure while others remain resilien. David Slipher/UC DavisIn 2000, McAllister joined the UC Davis faculty as an assistant professor of neurology and neurobiology, physiology and behavior. She started her lab at the growing Center for Neuroscience, initially focusing her research on trying to understand how synapses form between brain cells and how their structures are modified by experience. She and her lab colleagues developed techniques that allowed them to watch synaptic connections form in real-time. “We discovered that immune molecules on brain cells surprisingly control the number of synapses that are being formed,” said McAllister. “A lot of our research now focuses on identifying how they do that. We’re also interested in what regulates those immune molecules in the brain during development.” “One idea is that a change in peripheral immune responses might signal into the brain to regulate these immune molecules at synapses, acting like flags to link synaptic function to peripheral immune status,” she added. “This was a heretical idea when we started and many people advised me against pursuing this area of research. But, this is exactly the kind of challenge that I am drawn to.” McAllister was pregnant with her second child when she heard that new research revealed an association between viral infection during pregnancy and an increased likelihood of a child developing autism and schizophrenia. She launched new projects to determine if maternal infection might be one of the signals that changes immune molecules on brain cells and alters synapse formation. Her lab was the first to show a direct link between the two.    “This association is scary,” said McAllister. “But it’s also hopeful. We know how to regulate responses to infection, so I’m very excited to see if we can prevent some forms of psychiatric illness by tapping into peripheral immunity.” While most mothers who get sick during pregnancy have healthy offspring, it’s important to understand why some pregnancies are resilient to infection and others are susceptible. An unknown slew of biochemical and environmental factors influence neurological pathologies. And that’s where McAllister and her lab colleagues come in.          Using animal models, McAllister and her colleagues have discovered ways to predict why some pregnant fetuses are susceptible to immunogen exposure while others remain resilient. “By measuring traits from the female even before they get pregnant, we can predict which ones will go on to have susceptible or resilient pregnancies,” said McAllister. “Now, we’re doing a full behavioral analysis on these offspring from susceptible and resilient pregnancies so that we can start to see how one risk factor can lead to different psychiatric disorders in offspring.” “Our most important goal, though” she added, “is to develop treatments that will make susceptible, at-risk pregnancies resilient to the effects of infection and ultimately prevent offspring from developing autism, depression or schizophrenia.” Promoting an inclusive culture at UC Davis In 2017, McAllister stepped in as interim director of the Center for Neuroscience and in 2018, she was named director, becoming the first female scientist to occupy the role. As director of the Center for Neuroscience, McAllister oversees the roughly 25 labs housed at the interdisciplinary center, which is dedicated to understanding brain function in health and in illness throughout the lifespan.    “With over 150 faculty working in neuroscience, UC Davis has one of the largest neuro communities in the world,” said McAllister. “Promoting collaboration across centers and working with other neuroscience leaders is one of the most fun aspects of my job. Two of our most exciting cross-campus initiatives are the Healthy Brain Aging Big Idea and the Neuro-X Impact Initiative, both of which are collaborative efforts to stimulate a new kind of team science to develop new approaches to promote brain health and prevent disease.” Besides making the science run smoothly, McAllister wants the Center for Neuroscience to be an inclusive environment. McAllister herself rose through the biology ranks in male-dominated labs.  “It was a really, really hard place to grow up in science,” she said. “I grew up in a world that was dominated by men in every lab that I worked in. I never had a female role model in science. But, I was raised by an incredibly strong and inspirational mother who made me feel like I could do anything if I worked hard enough. I came to UC Davis and all of a sudden my center and lab is full of dynamic and powerful women, as well as outstanding men, and it’s just awesome.”  There’s still work to be done though. Ensuring equity in science is a constant effort, one without a set of guidelines. But McAllister is used to that. After all, her career was built on forging her own path. Besides making the science run smoothly, McAllister wants the Center for Neuroscience to be an inclusive environment. David Slipher/UC Davis"> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Kimberley McAllister studies the developing brain Part of her research focuses on why viral infection during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of a child developing autism and schizophrenia McAllister was named director of the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience in 2018, becoming the first female to occupy the role " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Kimberley McAllister studies the developing brain</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>Part of her research focuses on why viral infection during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of a child developing autism and schizophrenia</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>McAllister was named director of the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience in 2018, becoming the first female to occupy the role</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>Puzzles always fascinated UC Davis Center for Neuroscience Director Kimberley McAllister. They’re initially what attracted her to science.</p> <p>Raised in rural northern Virginia, McAllister enjoyed exploring the woods with her sister and dogs. She developed an avid interest in botany and ornithology, intrigued by the complexities of the natural world. She wanted to figure out answers to nature’s mysteries.  Eventually, McAllister’s ambition drew her to one of the most complex puzzles in the universe: the human brain.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Why are we able to do the amazing things that we can as humans when we start out as just a couple of cells?” said McAllister, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the UC Davis School of Medicine. “How does our brain change so much during development to become such a complex, beautiful structure in adulthood?”</p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of a neuron" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="73f70994-d5a0-42f7-92c7-606af3d698ba" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/meged1_0.jpg" /><figcaption>A single neuron with thousands of synapses (yellow puncta on the cell), that transmit information within the brain. McAllister Lab / UC Davis Center for Neuroscience</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>A winding road to research</strong></h4> <p>Coming from a family of five generations of physicians, McAllister thought the best way to combine her love for science and her desire to help people was obvious. She’d follow in the family trade. She enrolled in the premed track at Davidson College, located in Davidson, N.C., but the brain caught her attention when she took a class called “Concept of the Mind in Victorian Literature and Biology.”</p> <p>“The idea that evolution not only changes biology, but can also change human consciousness by altering the structure and function of the brain is fascinating,” said McAllister, noting the class inspired her to join a lab studying memory in mice. “I found it incredibly exciting.” </p> <p>Despite the lure of basic research, McAllister continued following the physician’s path and enrolled at the Duke University School of Medicine. After six months, she realized it wasn’t the right fit.</p> <p>“I approached the topics in my classes as a puzzle,” she said. “I wanted to know more and ask why. I read current papers on topics we covered in class. But the teachers wanted the answer they had told me, not the right answer that I had read in a recent paper. I found it incredibly frustrating.”</p> <p>“Plus,” she added, “I wanted to have a different kind of impact on patients’ lives, not by treating them one by one, but by changing the future of their diseases through developing new therapies.”</p> <p>McAllister realized this was the domain of basic science research. The realization caused her to question the path she was on. She took a leave of absence from her MD program and did some soul-searching.</p> <blockquote> <p>“My father, who was a proud physician, made this decision very difficult for me,” said McAllister. “He and his friends spent many hours telling me how I was ruining my life by giving up what I thought was my dream.”</p> </blockquote> <p>But it didn’t feel right. McAllister didn’t want to follow a rubric; she wanted to innovate and learn and discover. Remembering her curiosity about the brain, she phoned the chair of Duke’s neurobiology department and asked about a career in neuroscience. That fortuitous call led McAllister to a technician position in one of Duke’s new neuroscience labs. The experience convinced her. Basic research was the way to go. It was now in her blood.</p> <p>McAllister continued her studies and joined the fledgling neurobiology program at Duke. An early rotation in a “filler” lab studying visual system development changed her worldview. The idea that experience can change the shape of brain cells and their connections has driven her curiosity ever since.</p> <p>In 1996, McAllister graduated from Duke University with a Ph.D. in Neurobiology. She was one step closer to her future at UC Davis. </p> <h4><strong>Of mice and molecules</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of kim" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c578c465-2089-4776-82a3-c8bd3a4b3819" height="552" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Kim-McAllister-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg" width="368" /><figcaption>Using animal models, McAllister and her colleagues have discovered ways to predict why some pregnant fetuses are susceptible to immunogen exposure while others remain resilien. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p>In 2000, McAllister joined the UC Davis faculty as an assistant professor of neurology and neurobiology, physiology and behavior. She started her lab at the growing Center for Neuroscience, initially focusing her research on trying to understand how synapses form between brain cells and how their structures are modified by experience. She and her lab colleagues developed techniques that allowed them to watch synaptic connections form in real-time.</p> <p>“We discovered that immune molecules on brain cells surprisingly control the number of synapses that are being formed,” said McAllister. “A lot of our research now focuses on identifying how they do that. We’re also interested in what regulates those immune molecules in the brain during development.”</p> <p>“One idea is that a change in peripheral immune responses might signal into the brain to regulate these immune molecules at synapses, acting like flags to link synaptic function to peripheral immune status,” she added. “This was a heretical idea when we started and many people advised me against pursuing this area of research. But, this is exactly the kind of challenge that I am drawn to.”</p> <p>McAllister was pregnant with her second child when she heard that new research revealed an association between viral infection during pregnancy and an increased likelihood of a child developing autism and schizophrenia. She launched new projects to determine if maternal infection might be one of the signals that changes immune molecules on brain cells and alters synapse formation. Her lab was the first to show a direct link between the two.   </p> <p>“This association is scary,” said McAllister. “But it’s also hopeful. We know how to regulate responses to infection, so I’m very excited to see if we can prevent some forms of psychiatric illness by tapping into peripheral immunity.”</p> <p>While most mothers who get sick during pregnancy have healthy offspring, it’s important to understand why some pregnancies are resilient to infection and others are susceptible. An unknown slew of biochemical and environmental factors influence neurological pathologies. And that’s where McAllister and her lab colleagues come in.         </p> <p>Using animal models, McAllister and her colleagues have discovered ways to predict why some pregnant fetuses are susceptible to immunogen exposure while others remain resilient.</p> <blockquote> <p>“By measuring traits from the female even before they get pregnant, we can predict which ones will go on to have susceptible or resilient pregnancies,” said McAllister. “Now, we’re doing a full behavioral analysis on these offspring from susceptible and resilient pregnancies so that we can start to see how one risk factor can lead to different psychiatric disorders in offspring.”</p> </blockquote> <p>“Our most important goal, though” she added, “is to develop treatments that will make susceptible, at-risk pregnancies resilient to the effects of infection and ultimately prevent offspring from developing autism, depression or schizophrenia.”</p> <h4><strong>Promoting an inclusive culture at UC Davis</strong></h4> <p>In 2017, McAllister stepped in as interim director of the Center for Neuroscience and in 2018, she was named director, becoming the first female scientist to occupy the role.</p> <p>As director of the Center for Neuroscience, McAllister oversees the roughly 25 labs housed at the interdisciplinary center, which is dedicated to understanding brain function in health and in illness throughout the lifespan.   </p> <p>“With over 150 faculty working in neuroscience, UC Davis has one of the largest neuro communities in the world,” said McAllister. “Promoting collaboration across centers and working with other neuroscience leaders is one of the most fun aspects of my job. Two of our most exciting cross-campus initiatives are the Healthy Brain Aging Big Idea and the Neuro-X Impact Initiative, both of which are collaborative efforts to stimulate a new kind of team science to develop new approaches to promote brain health and prevent disease.”</p> <p>Besides making the science run smoothly, McAllister wants the Center for Neuroscience to be an inclusive environment. McAllister herself rose through the biology ranks in male-dominated labs. </p> <blockquote> <p>“It was a really, really hard place to grow up in science,” she said. “I grew up in a world that was dominated by men in every lab that I worked in. I never had a female role model in science. But, I was raised by an incredibly strong and inspirational mother who made me feel like I could do anything if I worked hard enough. I came to UC Davis and all of a sudden my center and lab is full of dynamic and powerful women, as well as outstanding men, and it’s just awesome.” </p> </blockquote> <p>There’s still work to be done though. Ensuring equity in science is a constant effort, one without a set of guidelines. But McAllister is used to that. After all, her career was built on forging her own path.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of kim in the lab with a staff member" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="2b4bceab-b880-42c7-9742-ea68660e2fd6" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Kim-McAllister-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>Besides making the science run smoothly, McAllister wants the Center for Neuroscience to be an inclusive environment. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure></div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human &amp; Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/school-medicine" hreflang="en">School of Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/brain-research" hreflang="en">brain research</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/mind-and-brain" hreflang="en">mind and brain</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/synapses" hreflang="en">synapses</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Neuroscience Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biochemistry" hreflang="en">Biochemistry</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/discovering-curiosity" hreflang="en">Discovering Curiosity</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 16 Aug 2019 22:49:06 +0000 Greg Watry 621 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Engineering a Balanced Diet? Hormone FGF21 Promotes Protein Preference https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/engineering-balanced-diet-hormone-fgf21-promotes-protein-preference <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Engineering a Balanced Diet? Hormone FGF21 Promotes Protein Preference</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 13, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Mouse-Ryan-Karen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=YOdlO0d3" width="1280" height="720" alt="picture of a mouse eating" title="In a study appearing in Endocrinology, researchers identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. Pixabay" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference. But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other? After all, not all macronutrients are created equal. While carbohydrates and fats are stored as inert forms in the body for later energy use, proteins are broken down to amino acids, which provide the biochemical basis for muscle, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters, among other important molecules. When demand for amino acids exceeds the dietary supply, our bodies respond by breaking down muscle and other functional proteins. For this reason “protein intake has important effects on many aspects of health, from development to aging to metabolism to performance,” said Associate Professor Karen Ryan, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. In a study appearing in Endocrinology, Ryan and her colleagues, including Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Ph.D. student and lead study author Karlton Larson, identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. They found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. “FGF21 is a hormone that’s secreted primarily from the liver in response to nutritional stresses, and most strongly when the diet is deficient in protein or amino acids” said Ryan. “It increases energy expenditure and causes body weight and body fat loss in mice and for that reason, it’s been a target for development of treatments for metabolic diseases. But what we don’t understand very well is— what is its physiological role?” The study supports the hypothesis that FGF21 is used to promote protein homeostasis, in other words, to balance amino acid supply with demand, within the body. Ph.D. student Karlton Larson, Ryan and their colleagues found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. David Slipher/UC Davis  Shutting down sugary cravings? Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. She and her colleagues treated mice with FGF21 then gave them a choice between three different diets, each one consisting of a single macronutrient. The FGF21-treated mice decreased carb intake and increased dietary protein intake without a difference in total calories consumed. “That was really interesting to us because the homeostatic control of protein intake has been sort of an elusive concept,” said Ryan. “But here we have a hormone that is secreted in response to protein restriction, and when you give it to mice it leads to a compensatory increase in protein intake, so that caught our attention.” To confirm that FGF21 increased preference for dietary protein rather than avoidance of carbs, the team performed a series of two-choice diet tests. The diets were matched to different combinations of fats, proteins and carbs. “We knew that FGF21 decreased intake of sweet things,” said Ryan. “Whether it also regulates carbs independent of that was not clear. So we kept sugar constant across all diets.”   Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. David Slipher/UC DavisIn the first test, mice chose between a diet of 22 percent fat, 18 percent protein and 60 percent carbohydrates or a diet of 22 percent fat, 4 percent protein and 74 percent carbohydrates. Upon treatment with FGF21, the mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet. In the second test, mice chose between a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent protein and 47 percent fat or a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent protein and 61 percent fat. Again, the FGF21-treated mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet. To further validate their findings, the team performed another test. They presented mice with a diet of 18 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 22 percent fat or a diet of 18 percent protein, 52 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. This time, FGF21 treatment did not change diet preference, supporting the hypothesis that FGF21 plays a role to specifically regulate dietary protein. Food on the brain Now that they’ve confirmed one of FGF21’s roles, the team wants to know how it accomplishes this, neurologically speaking. They’re currently investigating a receptor in the brain called β-klotho (Klb), a co-receptor for FGF21. When the team deleted Klb from the whole brain, FGF21 no longer increased protein intake. “We know something about how amino acids can de directly sensed by different parts of the brain,” said Ryan. But “we don’t where in the brain FGF21 is acting, so that’s really the first question we’d like to answer.” “Which specific neurons are necessary to convey the effects of FGF21 on protein intake, and then how do those potentially talk to other areas of the brain that are important for amino acid sensing?” she added. Identifying a hormone that regulates dietary protein could have important implications for understanding organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development, and aging, according to Ryan. A grant from the National Institutes of Health supported the study.   "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference. But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other?" } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference.</p> <p>But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other?</p> <p>After all, not all macronutrients are created equal. While carbohydrates and fats are stored as inert forms in the body for later energy use, proteins are broken down to amino acids, which provide the biochemical basis for muscle, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters, among other important molecules. When demand for amino acids exceeds the dietary supply, our bodies respond by breaking down muscle and other functional proteins.</p> <blockquote> <p>For this reason “protein intake has important effects on many aspects of health, from development to aging to metabolism to performance,” said Associate Professor Karen Ryan, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.</p> </blockquote> <p>In a study appearing in <a href="https://academic.oup.com/endo/article/160/5/1069/5364429"><em>Endocrinology</em></a><em>, </em>Ryan and her colleagues, including Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Ph.D. student and lead study author Karlton Larson, identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. They found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats.</p> <p>“FGF21 is a hormone that’s secreted primarily from the liver in response to nutritional stresses, and most strongly when the diet is deficient in protein or amino acids” said Ryan. “It increases energy expenditure and causes body weight and body fat loss in mice and for that reason, it’s been a target for development of treatments for metabolic diseases. But what we don’t understand very well is— what is its physiological role?”</p> <p>The study supports the hypothesis that FGF21 is used to promote protein homeostasis, in other words, to balance amino acid supply with demand, within the body.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of karen in her lab with a phd student" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ae9e80b6-b320-495a-941c-c52320916b02" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Karen-Ryan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Web-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Ph.D. student Karlton Larson, Ryan and their colleagues found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> <h4><strong>Shutting down sugary cravings?</strong></h4> <p>Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. She and her colleagues treated mice with FGF21 then gave them a choice between three different diets, each one consisting of a single macronutrient.</p> <p>The FGF21-treated mice decreased carb intake and increased dietary protein intake without a difference in total calories consumed.</p> <p>“That was really interesting to us because the homeostatic control of protein intake has been sort of an elusive concept,” said Ryan. “But here we have a hormone that is secreted in response to protein restriction, and when you give it to mice it leads to a compensatory increase in protein intake, so that caught our attention.”</p> <p>To confirm that FGF21 increased preference for dietary protein rather than avoidance of carbs, the team performed a series of two-choice diet tests. The diets were matched to different combinations of fats, proteins and carbs.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We knew that FGF21 decreased intake of sweet things,” said Ryan. “Whether it also regulates carbs independent of that was not clear. So we kept sugar constant across all diets.”</p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="head shot of Karen Ryan" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4fa7b540-7e3a-4fb6-98ad-ef8a15a1b21f" height="351" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Karen-Ryan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Web-3.jpg" width="234" /><figcaption>Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p>In the first test, mice chose between a diet of 22 percent fat, 18 percent protein and 60 percent carbohydrates or a diet of 22 percent fat, 4 percent protein and 74</p> <p>percent carbohydrates. Upon treatment with FGF21, the mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet.</p> <p>In the second test, mice chose between a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent protein and 47 percent fat or a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent protein and 61 percent fat. Again, the FGF21-treated mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet.</p> <p>To further validate their findings, the team performed another test. They presented mice with a diet of 18 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 22 percent fat or a diet of 18 percent protein, 52 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. This time, FGF21 treatment did not change diet preference, supporting the hypothesis that FGF21 plays a role to specifically regulate dietary protein.</p> <h4><strong>Food on the brain</strong></h4> <p>Now that they’ve confirmed one of FGF21’s roles, the team wants to know how it accomplishes this, neurologically speaking. They’re currently investigating a receptor in the brain called β-klotho (<em>Klb)</em>, a co-receptor for FGF21. When the team deleted <em>Klb</em> from the whole brain, FGF21 no longer increased protein intake.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We know something about how amino acids can de directly sensed by different parts of the brain,” said Ryan. But “we don’t where in the brain FGF21 is acting, so that’s really the first question we’d like to answer.”</p> </blockquote> <p>“Which specific neurons are necessary to convey the effects of FGF21 on protein intake, and then how do those potentially talk to other areas of the brain that are important for amino acid sensing?” she added.</p> <p>Identifying a hormone that regulates dietary protein could have important implications for understanding organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development, and aging, according to Ryan.</p> <p>A grant from the National Institutes of Health supported the study.</p> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human &amp; Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology" hreflang="en">neurobiology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/nutrition" hreflang="en">nutrition</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/protein" hreflang="en">protein</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/carbohydrates" hreflang="en">carbohydrates</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/fats" hreflang="en">fats</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/food" hreflang="en">food</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student" hreflang="en">Graduate Student</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-group" hreflang="en">Graduate Group</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 13 May 2019 20:51:54 +0000 Greg Watry 611 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Professor Mark Goldman Appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/professor-mark-goldman-appointed-joel-keizer-endowed-chair-theoretical-and-computational <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Professor Mark Goldman Appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 01, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=z_tlEiAY" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of mark and a student" title="Professor Mark Goldman walks a student through an experiment during an NPB 100L class. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary To figure out the labyrinthine-like puzzle of the brain, scientists need computational and quantitative biology skills Professor Mark Goldman applies the quantitative skills he learned as a physicist to questions in neuroscience Named to the Keizer Chair, Goldman will continue to make UC Davis a home for quantitative biology by ushering in a new quantitative biology major Our brains are incredible biological machines synthesizing uncountable, chaotic, sensory inputs into coherent experience. We populate a world of objects and each object—a computer screen, a red apple, even the shape and identity of your best friend—is visually perceived and interpreted to construct our reality. “You see something that’s red; you see something that’s round. How do you know it’s a red circle?” asked Professor Mark Goldman. “You have these individual attributes and the idea is that there are different parts of our brain that are responsible for color, others that are responsible for form. How is the information carried by these pathways combined in a faithful, yet flexible manner?” This concept of neural binding—what may underlie the miraculous coherence of consciousness— is just one of the many aspects of the brain that puzzle neuroscientists. “How are we going to figure out the algorithms used by the neural networks of the brain?” asked Goldman, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the Center for Neuroscience. “We’re not likely to uncover these directly from measurements of brain activity. We’re going to need computer models to interpret the data and to stimulate the formation of new hypotheses that, when tested experimentally, provide novel insights.” An advocate for computational and quantitative biology, Goldman has been appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology. The position honors the late Professor Joel Keizer, a pioneering UC Davis faculty member and theoretical biologist who spent 28 years on campus. He died on May 16, 1999 from lung cancer at the age of 56. “I never had the honor of knowing Joel Keizer but I’ve certainly heard from my colleagues here about him, about how generous he was, about how he was a community builder,” said Goldman. “It’s obviously a huge honor.” “Mark is ideally suited for the Keizer Endowed Chair,” said Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs John Harada, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology. “His research in theoretical and computational neuroscience is providing a foundation for linking information obtained at the cellular level to a system level understanding of animal behavior.” Big data visualization techniques like this connectome—a computer-generated map of the brain pathways of 20 humans—inform neuroscience and help create models of complex biological systems. Andreas Horn/Max Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentThe big future of big data A physicist by training, Goldman branched into neuroscience early in his career. He was fascinated by a simple question—what makes us tic?—and realized that any potential answers would be found in the domain of neuroscience. Mentored by Larry Abbott, currently a professor of theoretical neuroscience at Columbia University, Goldman sought to apply the quantitative skills he learned in physics to problems in neuroscience. It’s been a guiding desire ever since. “We’re in the age of big data,” said Goldman. “We need to be able to integrate biology with the approaches of the mathematical sciences, the engineering sciences, and the physical sciences if we want to crack the big problems.”       Biology is becoming more and more quantitative. Innumerable biological data, like the kind generated from fields like genomics, only emphasize the need for computational and analytical skills. Questions like, “How does the genome influence behavior?” inherently require quantitative approaches, according to Goldman. “How are we going to go from strings of four letters to understanding what that means biologically?” said Goldman. “At its core, it’s a computational problem.” Teasing apart the function of the plethora of biochemical pathways underlying diseases such as cancer is also a computational problem, according to Goldman. “To understand the detailed mechanisms underlying disease, we’re going to need computer models,” he added. In Goldman&#039;s NPB 100L class, students recreate interactions in the brain. David Slipher/UC DavisUC Davis, a home for quantitative biology On top of research and teaching, Goldman is a pivotal player in developing a quantitative biology major at UC Davis. Though still in the design process, Goldman and colleagues are piloting new courses intended for the major. One that’s currently being explored is called Genome Hunters. In the class, students perform a mentored research project that relates features of an organism’s growth or behavior to its genome. This year, students learned about microbes and microbial growth, with an emphasis on the microorganisms found in high saline environments.   Students in Goldman&#039;s class discuss their experiment. David Slipher/UC Davis“How the microbiome adapts to high salinity environments is important across a range of problems.  For example, increased soil salinity is a critical issue in agriculture, which can affect the helpful bacteria that promote healthy soils and plant growth.” said Goldman. “The students are going to analyze the genomes from their different organisms to make sense of the variation in salt-tolerance among the microbes.” Using quantitative techniques, the students will explore the genetic data to identify markers for salt tolerance in their studied bacteria. Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort. “It’s a major initiative that is going to bridge all four undergraduate colleges,” he said. That goal aligns with Keizer’s legacy. Throughout his career, Keizer worked at the nexus of math and biology, creating models for biological processes like insulin secretion and intracellular calcium dynamics, among many others. “It really is about combining perspectives across disciplines to bring biology training and practice to the cutting edge,” said Goldman. “That’s something Joel was doing many years ago, and it’s only become more important.” Through the quantitative biology major, Goldman will be sharing Keizer’s legacy with a new generation of students. Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary To figure out the labyrinthine-like puzzle of the brain, scientists need computational and quantitative biology skills Professor Mark Goldman applies the quantitative skills he learned as a physicist to questions in neuroscience Named to the Keizer Chair, Goldman will continue to make UC Davis a home for quantitative biology by ushering " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>To figure out the labyrinthine-like puzzle of the brain, scientists need computational and quantitative biology skills</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Professor Mark Goldman applies the quantitative skills he learned as a physicist to questions in neuroscience</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Named to the Keizer Chair, Goldman will continue to make UC Davis a home for quantitative biology by ushering in a new quantitative biology major</strong></em></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>Our brains are incredible biological machines synthesizing uncountable, chaotic, sensory inputs into coherent experience. We populate a world of objects and</p> <p>each object—a computer screen, a red apple, even the shape and identity of your best friend—is visually perceived and interpreted to construct our reality.</p> <p>“You see something that’s red; you see something that’s round. How do you know it’s a red circle?” asked Professor Mark Goldman. “You have these individual attributes and the idea is that there are different parts of our brain that are responsible for color, others that are responsible for form. How is the information carried by these pathways combined in a faithful, yet flexible manner?”</p> <p>This concept of neural binding—what may underlie the miraculous coherence of consciousness— is just one of the many aspects of the brain that puzzle neuroscientists.</p> <blockquote> <p>“How are we going to figure out the algorithms used by the neural networks of the brain?” asked Goldman, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the Center for Neuroscience. “We’re not likely to uncover these directly from measurements of brain activity. We’re going to need computer models to interpret the data and to stimulate the formation of new hypotheses that, when tested experimentally, provide novel insights.”</p> </blockquote> <p>An advocate for computational and quantitative biology, Goldman has been appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology. The position honors the late Professor Joel Keizer, a pioneering UC Davis faculty member and theoretical biologist who spent 28 years on campus. He died on May 16, 1999 from lung cancer at the age of 56.</p> <p>“I never had the honor of knowing Joel Keizer but I’ve certainly heard from my colleagues here about him, about how generous he was, about how he was a community builder,” said Goldman. “It’s obviously a huge honor.”</p> <p>“Mark is ideally suited for the Keizer Endowed Chair,” said Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs John Harada, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology. “His research in theoretical and computational neuroscience is providing a foundation for linking information obtained at the cellular level to a system level understanding of animal behavior.”</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of the mapping of the brain pathways" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d4f5800c-245d-4788-ad1a-efe5f5132b8b" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/connectome.jpg" /><figcaption>Big data visualization techniques like this connectome—a computer-generated map of the brain pathways of 20 humans—inform neuroscience and help create models of complex biological systems. Andreas Horn/Max Planck Institute for Human Development</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>The big future of big data</strong></h4> <p>A physicist by training, Goldman branched into neuroscience early in his career. He was fascinated by a simple question—what makes us tic?—and realized that any potential answers would be found in the domain of neuroscience. Mentored by Larry Abbott, currently a professor of theoretical neuroscience at Columbia University, Goldman sought to apply the quantitative skills he learned in physics to problems in neuroscience. It’s been a guiding desire ever since.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We’re in the age of big data,” said Goldman. “We need to be able to integrate biology with the approaches of the mathematical sciences, the engineering sciences, and the physical sciences if we want to crack the big problems.”      </p> </blockquote> <p>Biology is becoming more and more quantitative. Innumerable biological data, like the kind generated from fields like genomics, only emphasize the need for computational and analytical skills. Questions like, “How does the genome influence behavior?” inherently require quantitative approaches, according to Goldman.</p> <p>“How are we going to go from strings of four letters to understanding what that means biologically?” said Goldman. “At its core, it’s a computational problem.”</p> <p>Teasing apart the function of the plethora of biochemical pathways underlying diseases such as cancer is also a computational problem, according to Goldman.</p> <p>“To understand the detailed mechanisms underlying disease, we’re going to need computer models,” he added.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of student experiment" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="15021d17-2fb2-4a05-9ccb-1cb667141cc8" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>In Goldman's NPB 100L class, students recreate interactions in the brain. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>UC Davis, a home for quantitative biology</strong></h4> <p>On top of research and teaching, Goldman is a pivotal player in developing a quantitative biology major at UC Davis. Though still in the design process, Goldman and colleagues are piloting new courses intended for the major. One that’s currently being explored is called Genome Hunters. In the class, students perform a mentored research project that relates features of an organism’s growth or behavior to its genome. This year, students learned about microbes and microbial growth, with an emphasis on the microorganisms found in high saline environments.</p> <p> </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of students in a lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="552a8a67-f880-4d14-a449-3de4f84dbea4" height="269" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" width="404" /><figcaption>Students in Goldman's class discuss their experiment. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p>“How the microbiome adapts to high salinity environments is important across a range of problems.  For example, increased soil salinity is a critical issue in agriculture, which can affect the helpful bacteria that promote healthy soils and plant growth.” said Goldman. “The students are going to analyze the genomes from their different organisms to make sense of the variation in salt-tolerance among the microbes.”</p> <p>Using quantitative techniques, the students will explore the genetic data to identify markers for salt tolerance in their studied bacteria.</p> <p>Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort.</p> <p>“It’s a major initiative that is going to bridge all four undergraduate colleges,” he said.</p> <p>That goal aligns with Keizer’s legacy. Throughout his career, Keizer worked at the nexus of math and biology, creating models for biological processes like insulin secretion and intracellular calcium dynamics, among many others.</p> <blockquote> <p>“It really is about combining perspectives across disciplines to bring biology training and practice to the cutting edge,” said Goldman. “That’s something Joel was doing many years ago, and it’s only become more important.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Through the quantitative biology major, Goldman will be sharing Keizer’s legacy with a new generation of students.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of mark in front of a class" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8d489390-623e-4b52-afbd-d492edecda64" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-5.jpg" /><figcaption>Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/quantitative-biology" hreflang="en">quantitative biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-disease" hreflang="en">human disease</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cancer" hreflang="en">cancer</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/genomes" hreflang="en">genomes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cognitive-function" hreflang="en">cognitive function</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/mind-and-brain" hreflang="en">mind and brain</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/philanthropy" hreflang="en">philanthropy</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 01 May 2019 22:49:03 +0000 Greg Watry 606 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez Named Faculty Assistant to the Dean for Science Communications https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/assistant-professor-rebecca-calisi-rodriguez-named-faculty-assistant-dean-science <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez Named Faculty Assistant to the Dean for Science Communications</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">April 11, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/UC-Davis-College-of-Biological-Sciences-Becca-Calisi-Scicomm_1.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=210pS3r8" width="1280" height="720" alt="picture of Rebecca with her birds" title="“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.” That’s the philosophy behind Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez’s science communications work. UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.” Quick Summary Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in science communication Through video storytelling, she&#039;s explored the neurobiology of bird brains and has worked to increase diversity in STEM She’ll work with the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts That’s the philosophy behind Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez’s science communications work. For the past couple of years, Calisi Rodríguez has taken on the mantle of public outreach, sharing her love for science using culturally relevant storytelling in online videos. And now, she’ll bring that passion to the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences as the faculty assistant to the dean for science communications. “I love this idea of creating actual positions for faculty-scholar communicators, who are able to identify not only as someone who does the science, who runs the lab, who writes the research grants, but who also is talented in science communication,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “We see more of these types of hybrid positions popping up at various universities to meet the need of bridging the disconnect between scientists and the public. I love that the College of Biological Sciences is willing to take a chance on me and my ideas to develop this role here.” For her first formal project in the position, Calisi Rodríguez recently produced the College of Biological Sciences annual Give Day video. On top of filming and editing it, she helped brainstorm the idea and enlisted the help of her colleagues from the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “For the past few years, I’ve learned so much working closely with the university’s professional communications staff, and now we’ve combined superpowers,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “Theirs is the art of strategic communications, mine in running a research lab, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and hey! Being a Latina mother-in-science! We trust and support each other in taking risks, because we have a common goal—to innovate how we communicate research discoveries to a broader audience.” “Rebecca has been building a dossier of projects in which she seeks to humanize scientists and make them relatable with a particular attention to making the science accessible to those from groups traditionally underrepresented in science,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “I am delighted to have her bring her skills to telling the stories of the CBS faculty and students.”  Starting with familia Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in finding different ways to communicate ideas to the public, but her science communications efforts started with her family. When she visited relatives in Texas for the holidays, she often found it difficult to explain the finer points of her neurobiology research. Why does a neurobiologist study bird brains? And why are bird brains important to human health? To answer these questions, Calisi Rodríguez created a humorous video called “Studying Bird Brains: Not Such a Bird-Brained Idea!” She shared it with her family and voila, understanding was born. “It felt so wonderful to connect with my tíos, with my primos and make this video that was approachable with them in mind,” she said. Calisi Rodríguez was inspired. Brandishing an iPhone and iMovie, she began exploring ways to utilize video to facilitate her own public outreach efforts. She also realized the video medium could be used to inspire social change in the sciences. “Some of the topics that I’ve communicated about have been very serious in nature, like under-representation of marginalized groups and obstacles that breastfeeding mothers face,” she said. “At first I was worried that my lack of training in film making would be an issue, but one of my mentors who is an actual filmmaker told me that the rawness of my videos can be a way of making me and the people I interview that much more real and approachable. So I’m going for it! Sin miedo!”   New directions and ventures Calisi Rodríguez is excited to explore her new role with the college. She’ll work with Winey and the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts while also pursuing her own projects. Recently, she wrapped up filming on a National Geographic-funded digital series called “I Can Science,” which showcases diversity in research and teaching. The series, hosted by Calisi Rodríguez, is being produced by UC Davis. “Expect to see witty and insightful video interviews and profiles of CBS faculty developed by Rebecca in her role as faculty assistant to the dean for science communications,” said Winey.    "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.”" } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.”</em></p> <aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in science communication</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Through video storytelling, she's explored the neurobiology of bird brains and has worked to increase diversity in STEM</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>She’ll work with the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>That’s the philosophy behind Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez’s science communications work. For the past couple of years, Calisi Rodríguez has taken on the mantle of public outreach, sharing her love for science using culturally relevant storytelling in online videos. And now, she’ll bring that passion to the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences as the faculty assistant to the dean for science communications.</p> <p>“I love this idea of creating actual positions for faculty-scholar communicators, who are able to identify not only as someone who does the science, who runs the lab, who writes the research grants, but who also is talented in science communication,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “We see more of these types of hybrid positions popping up at various universities to meet the need of bridging the disconnect between scientists and the public. I love that the College of Biological Sciences is willing to take a chance on me and my ideas to develop this role here.”</p> <p>For her first formal project in the position, Calisi Rodríguez recently produced the <a href="https://giveday.ucdavis.edu/giving-day/12421/department/12424">College of Biological Sciences annual Give Day video</a>. On top of filming and editing it, she helped brainstorm the idea and enlisted the help of her colleagues from the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.</p> <blockquote> <p>“For the past few years, I’ve learned so much working closely with the university’s professional communications staff, and now we’ve combined superpowers,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “Theirs is the art of strategic communications, mine in running a research lab, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and hey! Being a Latina mother-in-science! We trust and support each other in taking risks, because we have a common goal—to innovate how we communicate research discoveries to a broader audience.”</p> </blockquote> <p>“Rebecca has been building a dossier of projects in which she seeks to humanize scientists and make them relatable with a particular attention to making the science accessible to those from groups traditionally underrepresented in science,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “I am delighted to have her bring her skills to telling the stories of the CBS faculty and students.” </p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fbYCKqOFBtc?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <h4><strong>Starting with familia</strong></h4> <p>Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in finding different ways to communicate ideas to the public, but her science communications efforts started with her family. When she visited relatives in Texas for the holidays, she often found it difficult to explain the finer points of her neurobiology research. Why does a neurobiologist study bird brains? And why are bird brains important to human health? To answer these questions, Calisi Rodríguez created a humorous video called “<em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MabfgGPzsAI">Studying Bird Brains: Not Such a Bird-Brained Idea!</a></em>” She shared it with her family and voila, understanding was born.</p> <p>“It felt so wonderful to connect with my tíos, with my primos and make this video that was approachable with them in mind,” she said.</p> <p>Calisi Rodríguez was inspired. Brandishing an iPhone and iMovie, she began exploring ways to utilize video to facilitate her own public outreach efforts. She also realized the video medium could be used to inspire social change in the sciences.</p> <p>“Some of the topics that I’ve communicated about have been very serious in nature, like under-representation of marginalized groups and <a href="https://vimeo.com/299507626">obstacles that breastfeeding mothers face</a>,” she said. “At first I was worried that my lack of training in film making would be an issue, but one of my mentors who is an actual filmmaker told me that the rawness of my videos can be a way of making me and the people I interview that much more real and approachable. So I’m going for it! <em>Sin miedo</em>!”</p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MabfgGPzsAI?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> <h4><strong>New directions and ventures</strong></h4> <p>Calisi Rodríguez is excited to explore her new role with the college. She’ll work with Winey and the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts while also pursuing her own projects. Recently, she wrapped up filming on a National Geographic-funded digital series called “I Can Science,” which showcases diversity in research and teaching. The series, hosted by Calisi Rodríguez, is being produced by UC Davis.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Expect to see witty and insightful video interviews and profiles of CBS faculty developed by Rebecca in her role as faculty assistant to the dean for science communications,” said Winey.   </p> </blockquote> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/319601252?app_id=122963" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen="" title="Cracking Marcia McNutt"></iframe></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/science-communications" hreflang="en">science communications</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/birds" hreflang="en">birds</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology" hreflang="en">neurobiology</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 11 Apr 2019 21:16:23 +0000 Greg Watry 601 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Discovering Curiosity: Fighting Neuromuscular Disorders with New Faculty Lucas Smith https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/discovering-curiosity-fighting-neuromuscular-disorders-new-faculty-lucas-smith <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Discovering Curiosity: Fighting Neuromuscular Disorders with New Faculty Lucas Smith</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">April 05, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=x7x102Ed" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of Lucas" title=" In his new lab at UC Davis, Assistant Professor Lucas Smith hopes to develop therapies that alleviate neuromuscular disorders and restore healthy muscle regeneration. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Assistant Professor Lucas Smith studies neuromuscular disorders, like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy Smith explores how scar tissue accumulation, which is seen in these conditions, affects muscle mechanics He wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that can alleviate overly stiff muscles In debilitating neuromuscular disorders, like muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the body’s muscles scar, turning fibrotic and stiff. These skeletal muscles—your biceps, quadriceps, abdominals and the lot—are integral to your body’s healthy ability to function. Connected to bones and controlled by the nervous system, muscles support a full range of motion, but they can’t do their job if they’re stiff and scarred. “What’s not really understood is how the scar tissue ends up making such a stiff muscle,” said Assistant Professor Lucas Smith, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “For us, it might take intense exercise or resistance training to cause a bit of damage, which elicits a regenerative response. In dystrophic conditions, just typical muscle contractions can damage the muscle and that chronic injury leads to fibrosis.” This ceaseless muscular tearing and regeneration introduces unhealthy scar tissue to the body. In his new lab at UC Davis, Smith, who also holds an appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, investigates how the accumulation of scar tissue affects muscle mechanics. His aim is to develop therapies that alleviate neuromuscular disorders and restore healthy muscle regeneration. In his lab, Smith tests the effects of fibrotic conditions on mouse muscles, like this tibialis anterior muscle. David Slipher/UC DavisThe Air Force and bioengineering Muscle study first blipped onto Smith’s radar while he was studying bioengineering at the University of Washington. While a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, he worked in a lab researching basic muscle physiology, learning about the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction. Following graduation, he continued lab work while waiting on his assignment from the Air Force. Initially intent on pursuing medical school following his military service, he found an inclination for research. Smith was a member of the Air Force Researve Officer Training Corps and served a two-year commitment following undergrad. Courtesy photo from Lucas Smith“That’s when I sort of fell in love with doing research in the lab and decided to sort of switch gears and pursue grad school,” said Smith. “But I owed a service commitment to the Air Force.” For about two years, Smith worked as a logistics officer at Washington’s McChord Field, where he coordinated the movement of cargo and military personnel around the globe. Afterward, he enrolled in UC San Diego’s bioengineering Ph.D. program. Making sense of stiff muscle fibers At UC San Diego, Smith joined the lab of Professor Richard Lieber and pursued translational research. Through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Med into Grad program, he gained experience in the operating room at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he assisted with biopsies for muscle research. Smith’s dissertation covered muscle adaptations in patients with spastic cerebral palsy.  The dissertation explored how the arrangement of the muscles’ individual fibers along with the scar tissue resulted in excessively stiff muscles. This state typically leads to the contracted-looking limbs seen in cerebral palsy patients. “We’re still trying to understand how that altered input from the nerve turns into the muscle pathology that we see by the time patients require surgery,” said Smith. During his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, Smith used mouse models to investigate the role of stem cells in reorganizing muscle extracellular matrices, the scaffolding of the muscle. “Stem cells in muscles are really critical for providing muscle adaptability,” said Smith. “So if you work out, the stem cells get activated to incorporate into the muscle fibers to help your muscles grow or respond to damage.” Patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy tend to have depleted stem cell populations. “That’s part of the reason they are not able to compensate over time to the injuries that are occurring in their muscles,” said Smith. Smith prepares for an experiment on a muscle in his lab. David Slipher/UC DavisLearning from the liver To further understand muscle fibrosis, Smith took a postdoctoral position in Professor Rebecca Wells’ lab, also located at the University of Pennsylvania. The Wells Lab studies the causes and effects of liver fibrosis. “In the fibrosis world, skeletal muscle is not really at the forefront,” said Smith, noting the focus is usually on liver and lung fibrosis. “I wanted to learn some new techniques that I could maybe steal and bring back to muscles.” All the while, Smith pondered his next step and sent out applications for faculty positions all around the United States. UC Davis became the obvious choice following some advice from one of his previous mentors, Professor Dennis Discher of Penn Engineering.   “He basically said go to the place that has the best students because they’re going to be the ones that make or break you,” said Smith. “I really felt that Davis was where I was going to be able to work with the best students.”  Stem cells: keys to the extracellular matrix Something that’s recently piqued Smith’s fascination is the role stem cell migration plays in neuromuscular disorders. “The stem cells have to migrate quite a bit to get where they’re going,” said Smith. “But if the space they migrate through is small enough, they actually rupture their nucleus.”   This can damage the DNA packaged in the stem cell’s nucleus, negatively affecting muscle regeneration. Smith and colleagues want to unravel mechanisms behind this cellular migration and squeezing process. On the therapy side, Smith wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that degrade a muscle’s extracellular matrix. In patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the scaffolding is often too stiff. Smith wonders if there’s a way to reorganize it. “It’s not necessarily how much of something you have, it’s how it’s put together. So we want to focus on how it’s put together,” he said.    Smith stands with lab junior specialist Sarah Brashear, &#039;18 B.S. in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis"> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Assistant Professor Lucas Smith studies neuromuscular disorders, like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy Smith explores how scar tissue accumulation, which is seen in these conditions, affects muscle mechanics He wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that can alleviate overly stiff muscles " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Assistant Professor Lucas Smith studies neuromuscular disorders, like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Smith explores how scar tissue accumulation, which is seen in these conditions, affects muscle mechanics</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>He wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that can alleviate overly stiff muscles</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>In debilitating neuromuscular disorders, like muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the body’s muscles scar, turning fibrotic and stiff. These skeletal muscles—your biceps,</p> <p>quadriceps, abdominals and the lot—are integral to your body’s healthy ability to function. Connected to bones and controlled by the nervous system, muscles support a full range of motion, but they can’t do their job if they’re stiff and scarred.</p> <p>“What’s not really understood is how the scar tissue ends up making such a stiff muscle,” said Assistant Professor Lucas Smith, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “For us, it might take intense exercise or resistance training to cause a bit of damage, which elicits a regenerative response. In dystrophic conditions, just typical muscle contractions can damage the muscle and that chronic injury leads to fibrosis.”</p> <p>This ceaseless muscular tearing and regeneration introduces unhealthy scar tissue to the body. In his new lab at UC Davis, Smith, who also holds an appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, investigates how the accumulation of scar tissue affects muscle mechanics. His aim is to develop therapies that alleviate neuromuscular disorders and restore healthy muscle regeneration.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of lab equipment" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d16c37ce-93c8-419d-9c2e-4fb3ab28d2b9" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3-4_0.jpg" /><figcaption>In his lab, Smith tests the effects of fibrotic conditions on mouse muscles, like this tibialis anterior muscle. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>The Air Force and bioengineering</strong></h4> <p>Muscle study first blipped onto Smith’s radar while he was studying bioengineering at the University of Washington. While a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, he worked in a lab researching basic muscle physiology, learning about the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction. Following graduation, he continued lab work while waiting on his assignment from the Air Force. Initially intent on pursuing medical school following his military service, he found an inclination for research.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of lucas in air force uniform" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e227ca2e-0804-415b-89eb-5047b6b2fdf3" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Air-Force_0.jpg" /><figcaption>Smith was a member of the Air Force Researve Officer Training Corps and served a two-year commitment following undergrad. Courtesy photo from Lucas Smith</figcaption></figure><p>“That’s when I sort of fell in love with doing research in the lab and decided to sort of switch gears and pursue grad school,” said Smith. “But I owed a service commitment to the Air Force.”</p> <p>For about two years, Smith worked as a logistics officer at Washington’s McChord Field, where he coordinated the movement of cargo and military personnel around the globe. Afterward, he enrolled in UC San Diego’s bioengineering Ph.D. program.</p> <h4><strong>Making sense of stiff muscle fibers</strong></h4> <p>At UC San Diego, Smith joined the lab of Professor Richard Lieber and pursued translational research. Through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Med into Grad program, he gained experience in the operating room at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he assisted with biopsies for muscle research.</p> <p>Smith’s dissertation covered muscle adaptations in patients with spastic cerebral palsy.  The dissertation explored how the arrangement of the muscles’ individual fibers along with the scar tissue resulted in excessively stiff muscles. This state typically leads to the contracted-looking limbs seen in cerebral palsy patients.</p> <p>“We’re still trying to understand how that altered input from the nerve turns into the muscle pathology that we see by the time patients require surgery,” said Smith.</p> <p>During his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, Smith used mouse models to investigate the role of stem cells in reorganizing muscle extracellular matrices, the scaffolding of the muscle.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Stem cells in muscles are really critical for providing muscle adaptability,” said Smith. “So if you work out, the stem cells get activated to incorporate into the muscle fibers to help your muscles grow or respond to damage.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy tend to have depleted stem cell populations. “That’s part of the reason they are not able to compensate over time to the injuries that are occurring in their muscles,” said Smith.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="working on a microsope" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4c604c1a-b4b1-4ef8-9677-2be05fc4ae12" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Smith prepares for an experiment on a muscle in his lab. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Learning from the liver</strong></h4> <p>To further understand muscle fibrosis, Smith took a postdoctoral position in Professor Rebecca Wells’ lab, also located at the University of Pennsylvania. The Wells Lab studies the causes and effects of liver fibrosis.</p> <p>“In the fibrosis world, skeletal muscle is not really at the forefront,” said Smith, noting the focus is usually on liver and lung fibrosis. “I wanted to learn some new techniques that I could maybe steal and bring back to muscles.”</p> <p>All the while, Smith pondered his next step and sent out applications for faculty positions all around the United States. UC Davis became the obvious choice following some advice from one of his previous mentors, Professor Dennis Discher of Penn Engineering.  </p> <blockquote> <p>“He basically said go to the place that has the best students because they’re going to be the ones that make or break you,” said Smith. “I really felt that Davis was where I was going to be able to work with the best students.” </p> </blockquote> <h4><strong>Stem cells: keys to the extracellular matrix</strong></h4> <p>Something that’s recently piqued Smith’s fascination is the role stem cell migration plays in neuromuscular disorders.</p> <p>“The stem cells have to migrate quite a bit to get where they’re going,” said Smith. “But if the space they migrate through is small enough, they actually rupture their nucleus.”  </p> <p>This can damage the DNA packaged in the stem cell’s nucleus, negatively affecting muscle regeneration. Smith and colleagues want to unravel mechanisms behind this cellular migration and squeezing process.</p> <p>On the therapy side, Smith wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that degrade a muscle’s extracellular matrix. In patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the scaffolding is often too stiff. Smith wonders if there’s a way to reorganize it. “It’s not necessarily how much of something you have, it’s how it’s put together. So we want to focus on how it’s put together,” he said.   </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of lucas and lab assistant" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="25f5d7fc-eab4-4c8b-be47-e678e119a30c" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-5_0.jpg" /><figcaption>Smith stands with lab junior specialist Sarah Brashear, '18 B.S. in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure></div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human &amp; Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/school-medicine" hreflang="en">School of Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/muscles" hreflang="en">muscles</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cerebral-palsy" hreflang="en">cerebral palsy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/muscular-dystrophy" hreflang="en">muscular dystrophy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuromuscular-disorders" hreflang="en">neuromuscular disorders</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/fibrosis" hreflang="en">fibrosis</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/stem-cells" hreflang="en">stem cells</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-physiology" hreflang="en">human physiology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 05 Apr 2019 21:08:10 +0000 Greg Watry 596 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu The CAMPOS Mission Continues: Newly Inducted Scholars Add to Faculty Diversity https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/campos-mission-continues-newly-inducted-scholars-add-faculty-diversity <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The CAMPOS Mission Continues: Newly Inducted Scholars Add to Faculty Diversity</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype=""> (not verified)</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">December 06, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/wilsaan-joiner-enviro-925.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=XyLVN8zb" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of Will" title="CAMPOS Faculty Scholar Wilsaan M. Joiner, pictured in the Life Sciences Building. (David Slipher/UC Davis)" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Assistant professors Wilsaan M. Joiner and James A. Letts are among the newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez received the inaugural CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award UC Davis is committed to CAMPOS: Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science. Campus leaders made that clear during the induction ceremony for the university’s newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars: Fawn A. Cothran, Wilsaan M. Joiner, Rose Kagawa and James A. Letts. They are new to UC Davis, recruited by CAMPOS in its mission to change the face of STEM by building faculty diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “In a state with rapidly changing demographics like California, it’s essential that we strive for inclusive excellence and equity,” Chancellor Gary S. May said in his remarks at the induction ceremony held Nov. 7 at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. Under the leadership of founding director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, professor in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, CAMPOS established itself in 2012 as a research center to promote the discovery of knowledge by supporting women in science, starting with Latinas. “It continues to expand its mission by increasing multicultural perspectives in science that are diverse, inclusive and reflect our global society,” de Leon Siantz said. Original funding came from UC Davis ADVANCE, which in 2012 with a $3.725 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program. The federal funding has run its course, but CAMPOS remains in place. “University leadership believes that the important work of CAMPOS must continue and become even more impactful,” Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, said at the ceremony. “Given that the program must first be sustainable if it is to survive and advance, we are very happy that CAMPOS has moved from its original home in ADVANCE to operate as a joint program of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. “This administrative migration will increase the stability of CAMPOS and give it a secure home at the center of university operations.” Today, de Leon Siantz continues as the CAMPOS director, working closely with Raquel Aldana, associate vice chancellor for Academic Diversity; and Phil Kass, vice provost of Academic Affairs. Acknowledging “how far we have come in the seven years since UC Davis received its landmark ADVANCE award,” Kass took time to recognize the people who were instrumental in making it happen: Linda Katehi, chancellor emerita and distinguished professor, and principal investigator; Linda Bisson, professor emerita and ADVANCE co-director; and co-principal investigators Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor and distinguished professor emerita; Karen McDonald, professor; Ray Rodriguez, professor emeritus; and Maureen Stanton, vice provost and distinguished professor emerita. “Our university understands the importance an institutional transformation grant has in permanently altering its academic landscape,” Kass said. “Successful new programs mean little without an enduring legacy that is assimilated into the DNA of this university, so that they can live on and evolve along with the university’s community. “Academic Affairs is proud to play a role in the sustainability of the components of our ADVANCE program — ones that we believe in, and that meaningfully touch the lives of our colleagues.” ‘Exactly what this campus needs’ CAMPOS has inducted 25 CAMPOS Faculty Scholars since 2014. “They are expert minds and role models that our scientific community needs,” Chancellor May said. “They are exactly what this campus needs.” Regardless of their academic disciplines, Chancellor May said, each CAMPOS Faculty Scholar has a key thing in common: “They are not only grooming the next generation of scientists, they serve as role models and mentors to attract minority students interested in STEM to UC Davis. “They are also a great inspiration to those who are already here. They’re showing that success in STEM can take on many faces, many backgrounds and many perspectives.” Hexter recognized CAMPOS for the many ways it seeks to increase the visibility of the Faculty Scholars and create a community of inclusive excellence.  For we know that it is not enough to open the door to multicultural perspectives through hiring alone. If a university is to equitably serve its faculty, it must create the conditions necessary for all faculty to succeed, excel, and thrive.” Below you&#039;ll find information about College of Biological Sciences CAMPOS scholars.  Wilsaan M. Joiner, assistant professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine — He studies how we use different sources of information to aid behavior, ranging from visual perception to movement planning and updating. Specifically, his laboratory is interested in how external and internally-generated sensory information is integrated in healthy individuals, in comparison to certain disease and impaired populations (e.g., schizophrenia and upper extremity amputees). Previously, Joiner served as an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, George Mason University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering from Saint Louis University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.   James A. Letts, assistant professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences — His research program focuses on how the body converts energy from the food that we eat into a form that can be used by cells across many essential processes. He seeks to characterize the structures and functions of important membrane proteins involved in energy conversion in order to learn about how they work and how their dysfunction results in disease. Before UC Davis, Letts was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, where he studied the structure and function of large membrane protein complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Letts holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Victoria and a Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University, where he worked in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics.   CAMPOS Hall of Fame The CAMPOS ceremony also included the inaugural presentation of the CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award, given to Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and director of the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis. The award recognizes his exceptional contributions to science, his multicultural perspective and his work in paving the way for diversity in science. His own path began in the fields of the Central Valley, where, from the age of 6, he joined his family in picking cotton, grapes, cantaloupes and tomatoes. His last farm work was in 1965, when he picked grapes to raise tuition to attend Fresno City College. From there he went to California State University, Fresno, for his bachelor’s degree and UC Santa Cruz for his Ph.D. in genetics. Today, he is working with CAMPOS Director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz to put together education and training proposals aimed at transforming farm work into a high-tech, high-skills occupation — given the “smart farm” technology that is already being introduced. “Without a transformation of the farm labor work force, we are going to see massive displacement of farmworkers and their families,” Rodriguez said. “We have to make this a win-win for farmers, workers, their children, as well as for consumers.” Rodriguez and de Leon Siantz foresee a pipeline that includes middle and high schools, community colleges and universities that provides training for different levels of ability and attainment. This story originally appeared on Dateline UC Davis. "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Assistant professors Wilsaan M. Joiner and James A. Letts are among the newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez received the inaugural CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award UC Davis is committed to CAMPOS: Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science." } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Assistant professors Wilsaan M. Joiner and James A. Letts are among the newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez received the inaugural CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>UC Davis is committed to CAMPOS: Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science.</p> <p>Campus leaders made that clear during the induction ceremony for the university’s newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars: Fawn A. Cothran, Wilsaan M. Joiner, Rose Kagawa and James A. Letts. They are new to UC Davis, recruited by CAMPOS in its mission to change the face of STEM by building faculty diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.</p> <p>“In a state with rapidly changing demographics like California, it’s essential that we strive for inclusive excellence and equity,” Chancellor Gary S. May said in his remarks at the induction ceremony held Nov. 7 at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.</p> <p>Under the leadership of founding director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, professor in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, CAMPOS established itself in 2012 as a research center to promote the discovery of knowledge by supporting women in science, starting with Latinas. “It continues to expand its mission by increasing multicultural perspectives in science that are diverse, inclusive and reflect our global society,” de Leon Siantz said.</p> <p>Original funding came from UC Davis ADVANCE, which in 2012 with a $3.725 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program. The federal funding has run its course, but CAMPOS remains in place.</p> <p>“University leadership believes that the important work of CAMPOS must continue and become even more impactful,” Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, said at the ceremony. “Given that the program must first be sustainable if it is to survive and advance, we are very happy that CAMPOS has moved from its original home in ADVANCE to operate as a joint program of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. “This administrative migration will increase the stability of CAMPOS and give it a secure home at the center of university operations.”</p> <p>Today, de Leon Siantz continues as the CAMPOS director, working closely with Raquel Aldana, associate vice chancellor for Academic Diversity; and Phil Kass, vice provost of Academic Affairs.</p> <p>Acknowledging “how far we have come in the seven years since UC Davis received its landmark ADVANCE award,” Kass took time to recognize the people who were instrumental in making it happen: Linda Katehi, chancellor emerita and distinguished professor, and principal investigator; Linda Bisson, professor emerita and ADVANCE co-director; and co-principal investigators Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor and distinguished professor emerita; Karen McDonald, professor; Ray Rodriguez, professor emeritus; and Maureen Stanton, vice provost and distinguished professor emerita.</p> <p>“Our university understands the importance an institutional transformation grant has in permanently altering its academic landscape,” Kass said. “Successful new programs mean little without an enduring legacy that is assimilated into the DNA of this university, so that they can live on and evolve along with the university’s community.</p> <p>“Academic Affairs is proud to play a role in the sustainability of the components of our ADVANCE program — ones that we believe in, and that meaningfully touch the lives of our colleagues.”</p> <h2><strong>‘Exactly what this campus needs’</strong></h2> <p>CAMPOS has inducted 25 CAMPOS Faculty Scholars since 2014. “They are expert minds and role models that our scientific community needs,” Chancellor May said. “They are exactly what this campus needs.”</p> <p>Regardless of their academic disciplines, Chancellor May said, each CAMPOS Faculty Scholar has a key thing in common: “They are not only grooming the next generation of scientists, they serve as role models and mentors to attract minority students interested in STEM to UC Davis.</p> <p>“They are also a great inspiration to those who are already here. They’re showing that success in STEM can take on many faces, many backgrounds and many perspectives.”</p> <p>Hexter recognized CAMPOS for the many ways it seeks to increase the visibility of the Faculty Scholars and create a community of inclusive excellence.  For we know that it is not enough to open the door to multicultural perspectives through hiring alone. If a university is to equitably serve its faculty, it must create the conditions necessary for all faculty to succeed, excel, and thrive.”</p> <p>Below you'll find information about College of Biological Sciences CAMPOS scholars. </p> <p><strong><img alt="Picture of will" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4d75c992-2e4c-4fce-98c6-157c0a9f14c9" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/wilsaan-m-joiner-150.jpg" class="align-left" />Wilsaan M. Joiner, </strong>assistant professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine — He studies how we use different sources of information to aid behavior, ranging from visual perception to movement planning and updating. Specifically, his laboratory is interested in how external and internally-generated sensory information is integrated in healthy individuals, in comparison to certain disease and impaired populations (e.g., schizophrenia and upper extremity amputees).</p> <p>Previously, Joiner served as an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, George Mason University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering from Saint Louis University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong><img alt="Picture of James" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8efd9fcc-c129-47a2-8a44-0c85442888a4" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/james-a-letts-150.jpg" class="align-left" />James A. Letts, </strong>assistant professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences — His research program focuses on how the body converts energy from the food that we eat into a form that can be used by cells across many essential processes. He seeks to characterize the structures and functions of important membrane proteins involved in energy conversion in order to learn about how they work and how their dysfunction results in disease.</p> <p>Before UC Davis, Letts was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, where he studied the structure and function of large membrane protein complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Letts holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Victoria and a Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University, where he worked in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics.</p> <p> </p> <h4>CAMPOS Hall of Fame<img alt="Picture of Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="545e625c-f032-4736-b6cd-c9ab6a21be97" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/raymond-l-rodriguez-570-316x253.jpg" class="align-right" /></h4> <p>The CAMPOS ceremony also included the inaugural presentation of the CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award, given to Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and director of the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis.</p> <p>The award recognizes his exceptional contributions to science, his multicultural perspective and his work in paving the way for diversity in science.</p> <p>His own path began in the fields of the Central Valley, where, from the age of 6, he joined his family in picking cotton, grapes, cantaloupes and tomatoes. His last farm work was in 1965, when he picked grapes to raise tuition to attend Fresno City College. From there he went to California State University, Fresno, for his bachelor’s degree and UC Santa Cruz for his Ph.D. in genetics.</p> <p>Today, he is working with CAMPOS Director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz to put together education and training proposals aimed at transforming farm work into a high-tech, high-skills occupation — given the “smart farm” technology that is already being introduced. “Without a transformation of the farm labor work force, we are going to see massive displacement of farmworkers and their families,” Rodriguez said. “We have to make this a win-win for farmers, workers, their children, as well as for consumers.”</p> <p>Rodriguez and de Leon Siantz foresee a pipeline that includes middle and high schools, community colleges and universities that provides training for different levels of ability and attainment.</p> <p>This story originally appeared on <a href="https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/campos-mission-continues?utm_source=datelinehtml&amp;utm_medium=datelinenewsletter&amp;utm_campaign=dateline_20181120">Dateline UC Davis</a>.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/campos" hreflang="en">CAMPOS</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/department-neurobiology-physiology-and-behavior" hreflang="en">Department of Neurobiology Physiology and Behavior</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/department-molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 06 Dec 2018 18:05:17 +0000 Anonymous 586 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Exploring Vision, Perception and Behavior: W. Martin Usrey Named Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/exploring-vision-perception-and-behavior-w-martin-usrey-named-barbara-horwitz-and-john-m <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Exploring Vision, Perception and Behavior: W. Martin Usrey Named Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">November 27, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=aNNf1qVS" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of Marty in lab gear adjusting equipment" title="The UC Davis College of Biological Sciences named Professor W. Martin Usrey to the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary The Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology was created in 2004 Usrey will hold the appointment for five years The endowment will support his research in visual perception, teaching and service activities Amblyopia, or reduced vision from one eye, affects approximately two to three of every 100 children, according to the National Eye Institute. Today the disability is correctable, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists realized the eye wasn’t responsible for the condition. Its origin was in how the eye and brain worked together.  “Back in the day, no one realized that there was a ‘critical period’ in childhood, where this could be corrected,” said Professor W. Martin Usrey, chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “Through basic science, that was discovered.”    In 1981, David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for their discoveries concerning the visual system. They and others revealed that visual information travels through a complex network of brain cells, where its component pieces are broken apart and sent to different areas of the brain for processing, eventually forming an image. Through experiments, the researchers found that columns of brain cells developed for each eye in the visual cortex, with critical development of these columns and their interactions occurring during childhood. The realization that the brain played just as large a role in vision as the eye led to development of the medical interventions used today to correct amblyopia. “Basic science research is exploration,” said Usrey, who was mentored by Wiesel early in his career. “It’s going out into the unknown and figuring out how things work. And it’s only by knowing how things work and making that discovery that you can then say, ‘How can that discovery be used?’” Usrey is a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision. David Slipher/UC DavisSupporting physiology research Recently, the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences named Usrey, a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision, to the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology. Usrey will hold the appointment for five years, with the endowment supporting his research, teaching and service activities. Distinguished Professor Emerita Horwitz and Professor Emeritus Horowitz created the endowed chair in 2004.       “It’s a great honor for many reasons, but for me in particular, it’s being able to do research under the name of Barbara Horwitz and John Horowitz,” said Usrey, who also holds appointments in the Center for Neuroscience and the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine. “They have done so much for the university. To be associated with their legacy is really quite special.”  College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey said, “This appointment isn’t just a recognition of Dr. Usrey’s past accomplishments, but an acknowledgment of his continuing efforts to advance our understanding of the role the brain plays in vision.” An entry into visual systems Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. While working in neurobiologist David Fitzpatrick’s laboratory, he became fascinated with comparative physiology and focused his attention on the tree shrew, a small squirrel-like mammal from Southeast Asia that is considered a close relative of primates. According to Usrey, the tree shrew has a very complex brain that is packaged in a small space and efficiently organized. Usrey likened it to uncooked spaghetti pasta, with one able to neatly follow threads of connection from the eye to various parts of the brain. This makes it an ideal organism for studying the visual pathway. But evolution is a complex weaver of traits and as a result, not all mammals have such neatly organized brains.   “You can also take that same pack of spaghetti and then mix it all up, cook it and now, it’s just a big web,” said Usrey. “The connections may be just as precise, but going in as an experimentalist, it’s very difficult to understand because you don’t have that organization.” By taking a comparative approach, researchers can gain insight and uncover brain mechanisms that otherwise might be impossible to unravel. Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. David Slipher/UC DavisKnocking on the doors of perception Today, at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, Usrey studies the physiological mechanisms responsible for vision, exploring the relationships between cell physiology, circuit activity, behavior and perception. At the back of the eye exists a group of cells called retinal ganglion cells. Primates, including humans, have more than 25 different classes of these cells, with each class processing a component of the visual scene and sending it to different areas of the brain.  Usrey’s research concerns the electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve to the thalamus and on to the primary visual cortex. Once there, these signals are further processed and sent to other visual cortical areas, which include hubs responsible for the processing of color and movement, among other aspects.    “An individual neuron in the visual cortex receives input from many sources, so there’s a lot of convergence and integration that’s taking place,” Usrey said. “What distinguishes our group is that to understand things, we often record from neurons at multiple stations in the brain simultaneously, so that we can watch the transfer of information occur from cell to cell to cell in real time.” Currently, Usrey and his lab are studying how behavior affects this relaying of visual signals. Understanding this relationship could provide insights into visual and cognitive impairments. Spatial attention and human health One phenomenon Usrey and his colleagues are dissecting is spatial attention, the ability to focus on a specific place in the visual field without moving the eyes. Imagine you’re in a staring contest, but something behind your competition attracts your attention, say a red ball flying through the air. Without breaking eye contact, you’re capable of shifting your mental attention to that ball. “Even though you haven’t moved your eyes, your brain is enhancing the processing of signals that are coming from that region in space,” Usrey said. “It’s something entirely internal.” Further investigation of neural processes governing peripheral vision and spatial attention could help researchers understand things like attention deficit disorders. But Usrey said it may also hold implications for those with Alzheimer’s disease.  Usrey and colleagues suspect that brain cells and synapses in an area of the brain called the basal forebrain are highly active during such spatial attention tasks. This part of the brain also degrades in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. “Understanding attention in the non-diseased brain is fundamental because you need that information in order to test hypotheses for things like attention deficit disorder or models for Alzheimer’s,” he said.   Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab. “I’ve decided to focus the opportunities that accompany the endowed chair on things that are important to Barbara and John and equally important to me,” he said.    Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary The Barbara A. Horwitz and John M." } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em>The Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology was created in 2004</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>Usrey will hold the appointment for five years</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>The endowment will support his research in visual perception, teaching and service activities</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>Amblyopia, or reduced vision from one eye, affects approximately two to three of every 100 children, according to the National Eye Institute. Today the disability is</p> <p>correctable, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists realized the eye wasn’t responsible for the condition. Its origin was in how the eye and brain worked together. </p> <p>“Back in the day, no one realized that there was a ‘critical period’ in childhood, where this could be corrected,” said Professor W. Martin Usrey, chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “Through basic science, that was discovered.”   </p> <p>In 1981, David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for their discoveries concerning the visual system. They and others revealed that visual information travels through a complex network of brain cells, where its component pieces are broken apart and sent to different areas of the brain for processing, eventually forming an image.</p> <p>Through experiments, the researchers found that columns of brain cells developed for each eye in the visual cortex, with critical development of these columns and their interactions occurring during childhood. The realization that the brain played just as large a role in vision as the eye led to development of the medical interventions used today to correct amblyopia.</p> <p>“Basic science research is exploration,” said Usrey, who was mentored by Wiesel early in his career. “It’s going out into the unknown and figuring out how things work. And it’s only by knowing how things work and making that discovery that you can then say, ‘How can that discovery be used?’”</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of Marty writing on a white board" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="2a7a4b52-a445-4b87-8ece-e139a7e69963" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Usrey is a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Supporting physiology research</strong></h4> <p>Recently, the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences named Usrey, a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision, to the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology. Usrey will hold the appointment for five years, with the endowment supporting his research, teaching and service activities. Distinguished Professor Emerita Horwitz and Professor Emeritus Horowitz created the endowed chair in 2004.      </p> <blockquote> <p>“It’s a great honor for many reasons, but for me in particular, it’s being able to do research under the name of Barbara Horwitz and John Horowitz,” said Usrey, who also holds appointments in the Center for Neuroscience and the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine. “They have done so much for the university. To be associated with their legacy is really quite special.” </p> </blockquote> <p>College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey said, “This appointment isn’t just a recognition of Dr. Usrey’s past accomplishments, but an acknowledgment of his continuing efforts to advance our understanding of the role the brain plays in vision.”</p> <h4><strong>An entry into visual systems</strong></h4> <p>Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. While working in neurobiologist David Fitzpatrick’s laboratory, he became fascinated with comparative physiology and focused his attention on the tree shrew, a small squirrel-like mammal from Southeast Asia that is considered a close relative of primates.</p> <p>According to Usrey, the tree shrew has a very complex brain that is packaged in a small space and efficiently organized. Usrey likened it to uncooked spaghetti pasta, with one able to neatly follow threads of connection from the eye to various parts of the brain. This makes it an ideal organism for studying the visual pathway.</p> <p>But evolution is a complex weaver of traits and as a result, not all mammals have such neatly organized brains.  </p> <p>“You can also take that same pack of spaghetti and then mix it all up, cook it and now, it’s just a big web,” said Usrey. “The connections may be just as precise, but going in as an experimentalist, it’s very difficult to understand because you don’t have that organization.”</p> <p>By taking a comparative approach, researchers can gain insight and uncover brain mechanisms that otherwise might be impossible to unravel.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="Picture of marty at a computer doing lab work" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="71878b12-463e-4a83-a0e0-622ce0267860" height="343" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg" width="514" /><figcaption>Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Knocking on the doors of perception</strong></h4> <p>Today, at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, Usrey studies the physiological mechanisms responsible for vision, exploring the relationships between cell physiology, circuit activity, behavior and perception.</p> <p>At the back of the eye exists a group of cells called retinal ganglion cells. Primates, including humans, have more than 25 different classes of these cells, with each class processing a component of the visual scene and sending it to different areas of the brain. </p> <p>Usrey’s research concerns the electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve to the thalamus and on to the primary visual cortex. Once there, these signals are further processed and sent to other visual cortical areas, which include hubs responsible for the processing of color and movement, among other aspects.   </p> <p>“An individual neuron in the visual cortex receives input from many sources, so there’s a lot of convergence and integration that’s taking place,” Usrey said. “What distinguishes our group is that to understand things, we often record from neurons at multiple stations in the brain simultaneously, so that we can watch the transfer of information occur from cell to cell to cell in real time.”</p> <p>Currently, Usrey and his lab are studying how behavior affects this relaying of visual signals. Understanding this relationship could provide insights into visual and cognitive impairments.</p> <h4><strong>Spatial attention and human health</strong></h4> <p>One phenomenon Usrey and his colleagues are dissecting is spatial attention, the ability to focus on a specific place in the visual field without moving the eyes. Imagine you’re in a staring contest, but something behind your competition attracts your attention, say a red ball flying through the air. Without breaking eye contact, you’re capable of shifting your mental attention to that ball.</p> <p>“Even though you haven’t moved your eyes, your brain is enhancing the processing of signals that are coming from that region in space,” Usrey said. “It’s something entirely internal.”</p> <p>Further investigation of neural processes governing peripheral vision and spatial attention could help researchers understand things like attention deficit disorders. But Usrey said it may also hold implications for those with Alzheimer’s disease. </p> <p>Usrey and colleagues suspect that brain cells and synapses in an area of the brain called the basal forebrain are highly active during such spatial attention tasks. This part of the brain also degrades in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Understanding attention in the non-diseased brain is fundamental because you need that information in order to test hypotheses for things like attention deficit disorder or models for Alzheimer’s,” he said.  </p> </blockquote> <p>Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab.</p> <p>“I’ve decided to focus the opportunities that accompany the endowed chair on things that are important to Barbara and John and equally important to me,” he said.   </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of Marty in front of the center for neuroscience sign" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="14068748-f7ad-4a54-99cb-5c8dcc43e65c" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg" /><figcaption>Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/school-medicine" hreflang="en">School of Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurology" hreflang="en">neurology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience-graduate" hreflang="en">Neuroscience Graduate</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/group-vision" hreflang="en">Group Vision</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/visual-cortex" hreflang="en">visual cortex</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/brain-research" hreflang="en">brain research</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/philanthropy" hreflang="en">philanthropy</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 27 Nov 2018 21:10:03 +0000 Greg Watry 581 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu