Positions

Associate Professor
Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US
Associate Professor
Neuroscience
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States
Associate Professor
Program in Developmental Biology
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States
McNair Scholar
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States

Education

BS from St. Cloud State University
PhD from University Of Utah School of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellowship at HHMI-Duke University

Honors & Awards

Michael E. DeBakey Excellence in Research Award
Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. Faculty Excellence Award
Marc Dresden Award for Excellence in Graduate Education
Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program Award
Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award in the Neurosciences
NARSAD Independent Investigator Award
Simmons Foundation CRF Award
McNair Scholar in Neuroscience
Brain & Behavior Res. Fndn. Alan Dutka Investigator
NARSAD Young Investigator Award
NINDS K99/R00 Career Transition Award

Professional Interests

  • Molecular genetic studies to investigate mechanisms of neural circuit formation, function, and maintenance

Professional Statement

The main focus of our research is to elucidate the basic mechanisms that guide the formation and maintenance of neural circuits in the mammalian brain. Using the mouse, we apply multifaceted experimental approaches that combine genetic engineering, optical imaging, and electrophysiological recording techniques to better understand synapse and circuit function.

The blueprints for most neural circuits are specified by innate, genetic mechanisms. However, circuit architecture and function can be strongly influenced by neural activity and sensory experience. Towards better understanding the interplay between experience, synaptic connectivity, and circuit function, we are currently pursuing three main projects in our laboratory:

1) Identifying activity dependent- and neuropeptide signaling mechanisms that underlie synaptogenesis and circuit formation of adult-born neurons.

2) Mapping functional connectivity of brain circuits, with emphasis on the olfactory system, basal forebrain, and hypothalamus.

3) Elucidating signaling and circuit mechanisms that govern feeding behavior.

The long-term goal of our research is to form a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that guide synapse and circuit formation, with the ultimate hope of gaining insight towards repairing or replacing damaged or diseased nervous tissue. At the heart of this experimentation is the continued effort to develop novel tools and techniques to mark and manipulate neurons and their associated circuits.

Selected Publications