My research

My research centers on cellular and developmental neuroscience.  Our primary research model species is the domestic chicken.  Research in my laboratory covers a broad range of topics:

1. The olfactory system: physiology and differentiation

My research on differentiation and neurogenesis in the avian olfactory system focuses on these main areas of research:

The development of the nervous system is a topic that is of great interest to researchers. When a neuron dies or is damaged, the nervous system can repair itself by growing new neurons from undifferentiated cells. This (re)generation of neurons is a multi-stage process, and involves several different growth factors that trigger nerve cell growth.The olfactory system is known for its ability to regenerate throughout the adult lifespan: olfactory neurons die on a routine basis, and the neurons are continuously replaced by cells that differentiate from non-neuronal precursors.  I study this process in the embryonic chick for a number of reasons:

  • the developmental timeline is easy to control
  • there is little known about bird olfaction
  • it is cost-effective, and requires minimal lab resources
  • it is practical for use by undergraduate students

2. Oxidative Stress and Cell Biology

In my lab, I have also encouraged students to investigate projects of their own interest.  Much of our recent work has used the chick embryonic system to study problems related to oxidative stress.

3. Retinoids and neuroblastoma growth and differentiation

Our lab has also been investigating questions related to the SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cell line.  Recent studies focus on retionic acid and neuroblastoma cell differentiation pathways.

4. Lipid metabolism in HepG2

Recently, students have spearheaded efforts  to investigate lipid accumulation and metabolism in HepG2 hepatoma cell lines.
Students play a key role in my research.  I always involve students, and encourage them to develop their own research problems, approaches, and expertise.