Sciences: Neuroscience

Department: Psychology

Supervising Faculty Member: Alev Erisir

Specialization: Neuroscience

Research Focus: Our lab studies synaptic circuitry in animal models of developing and aging sensory systems. Most behavior is an outcome of intricately orchestrated synaptic interactions among brain cells, and most events that lead to a change in behavior also change neuronal connectivity,  the synaptic morphology and the molecular and genetic markers of neural transmission.  By studying the morphological properties of neuronal axons and dendrites using paradigms that lead to behavioral change in organisms, we aim to understand how our brains work, reorganize, age and heal. Two current projects that investigate taste pathways and the pathological changes in aging brains use track-tracing, quantitative immuno-electron microscopy, ultrastructural morphometry, 3D ultrastructural connectomics, behavioral and computational approaches.

Position Description: Students who join the lab typically receive training in various techniques while they join an ongoing project, including anatomical tissue preparations, EM image analysis, and 3D reconstructions. Students will also take responsibility in routine lab chores, such as daily data scorings in the animal colony,  archive organization, and cleaning.  Students will also be required to attend to weekly lab meetings.

Required skills: Previous experience in wetlab techniques is preferred but not essential. Introductory Psychobiology, Neurobiology, or Chemistry courses are also preferred, but not essential for first year research assistants.

Computer software: Basic computer skills is sufficient. Experience in photography or graphical software are preferred.

Training/certification: Animal handling training will be required after beginning the work.

What you will learn: Being knowledgable in workflow of anatomical experiments; recognizing brain structures using light and electron microscopy; be able to formulate scientific questions.

Web site link to research: http://faculty.virginia.edu/erisirlab/