Research in my laboratory focuses primarily on the genetic architecture of behavior using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Flies provide a powerful and advantageous genetic model system, because large numbers of genetically identical individuals can be reared under controlled environmental conditions, rapidly, economically and without regulatory restrictions, and a wealth of publicly available resources is available. We use multiple genetic and molecular approaches to determine the genetic underpinnings of behaviors, including (but not limited to) olfactory behavior, aggression, startle behavior, sensitivity to alcohol, and phototaxis.
My teaching activities include graduate level courses in Behavioral Genetics and in Professional Development. Both courses are taught together with Dr. Trudy F. C. Mackay.
The Behavioral Genetics course introduces students to the emerging field of behavioral genetics and explores the genetic underpinnings that determine complex behaviors. Students are introduced to classical concepts of quantitative genetics and genetic approaches and genomic technologies that can be used to dissect the genetic architecture of behavior. Genetic concepts are integrated with neurobiological information for an integrative appreciation of the ‘genes-brain-behavior’ axis using both model organisms (mice, fruit flies, nematodes) and non-model organisms as examples.
W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology
I am the Director of the W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology, a cross-departmental organization that promotes a collaborative interdisciplinary environment for research and training in fundamental principles of behavior. With more than 20 participating faculty diverse aspects of behavioral genetics, behavioral ecology, and behavioral neuroscience are represented and integrated in the Center. The Center organizes a distinguished seminar series, scientific social evening discussions, an annual student/postdoc symposium, biannual professional development workshops, and special symposia, and publishes a monthly newsletter, The Signal. The Center also administers the graduate concentration in Behavioral Biology. For more information, see: