Sciences: Neuroscience - Neuroanatomy

Department: Psychology

Supervising Faculty Members: Alev Erisir

Specialization: Neuroscience/Neuroanatomy

Research Focus: Our lab is interested in understanding the biological determinants of developmental and lifespan neural plasticity, that is how the brain adapts to changes in the sensory environment, while learning a new skill during childhood, upon injury or while aging. We examine the fine structure of the brain, its neuronal circuits, cells, synapses and molecules. We apply anatomical visualization techniques including electron and confocal microscopy, using animal models. We also develop quantitative techniques to study the connectome of the brain circuits in 3 dimensional reconstructions at nanometer resolution.  

Job Description: Student will first learn the basic skills of lab and data maintenance (including making solutions, cleaning, conventions of record keeping, and safety measures). Then, the student will team up with a graduate student to work on an ongoing project. The lab techniques that the student will learn include brain sectioning, immunohistochemistry, use of light and electron microscopy, use of imaging and 3D reconstruction softwares.

Required Skills, Courses, Resources, or Background:  Basic background in brain structure and function.  Understanding chemical safety. A commitment to continue undergraduate research beyond the first year. Future plans include taking part in a distinguished major program.  Good organizational skills.  The following software and languages are used in the lab – proficiency in any of those is welcome but not necessary: Photoshop, Illustrator, Excel, SPSS, Matlab, R, ImagePro, Reconstruct, ImageJ, Origin. First and second year students are welcome to apply.

Training: Students will obtain online and in-person training on chemical safety, biosafety, and animal handling and welfare. 

What You Will Learn: 1) Learn basic laboratory techniques related to ultrastructural brain anatomy; 2) Be comfortable in reading scientific literature; 3) Get an understanding of the day-to-day functions of a research lab, and consider whether continuing on a research path is suitable for the particular student.