We are interested in identifying the genetic, molecular, and neuronal mechanisms by which animals sense and translate environmental cues such as chemicals and temperature into specific changes in behavior and development. Understanding the regulation of sensory signaling and signal processing is of significant biomedical importance since misregulation of these pathways leads to many neurological and behavioral disorders.
Current research in our lab focuses on three main areas using the powerful and elegant C. elegans model organism.
- The Cilia Squad investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms that define the unique morphological and functional properties of sensory cilia, cellular antennae that house all signaling molecules, and represent the site of primary sensory signal transduction.
- The Axis of (Chemo)Taxis in the lab investigates the molecular, neuronal and circuit mechanisms by which C. elegans responds to pheromones, small molecules used in chemical communication within a species.
- The Axis of (Thermo)Taxis is identifying the molecules, neurons and circuits required for the remarkable experience-dependent responses of C. elegans to thermal stimuli.