Research Labs

Physiology and Neurobiology is a multidisciplinary research department at the University of Connecticut. The mission of our department is to promote research and education that is innovative, collaborative, and centered on cutting-edge science.  The department promotes this goal by bringing together researchers and educators focused on the molecular, cellular, and circuit-based mechanisms that underlie diverse functions orchestrated by the brain and body. By integrating work across the spectrum of Physiology and Neurobiology, we aim to advance our understanding of brain-body functions and interactions under normal conditions and disease. Our faculty have strong expertise in the following research areas:

1) Molecular & Cellular Physiology

2) Circuit & Behavioral Neuroscience

3) Development, Disease & Tissue Repair

4) Biology Education Research

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Molecular Biology & Cell Signaling

The focus of this research is on the basic cellular mechanisms (e.g., intracellular signaling, gene regulation, protein interactions) that underlie neural circuit and synaptic functions, heterogeneity within classical cell types, ion channel physiology, cardio-respiratory physiology, sensory receptor signaling, reproduction, and endocrinology. Scientific questions of interest are interrogated using several model systems in combination with diverse approaches including genetic and intersectional tools, biochemistry, advanced imaging, electrophysiology, and high-throughput techniques with single cell resolution.

Conover Lab

Our research focuses on developmental neurobiology and stem cell biology with an emphasis on understanding neural stem cell distribution, maintenance, and function in the brain as well as applications of stem cell biology in the treatment of Hydrocephalus and other developmental disorders.

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Jackson Lab

Research in the Jackson Lab is focused on the cellular and synaptic neurophysiology of hypothalamic neural circuits that regulate fundamental behavioral states such as sleep, arousal and feeding. In particular, we study cells and circuits in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), which orchestrates fundamental aspects of behavior including arousal, stress, feeding and motivated behavior.

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Kanadia Lab

Our long-term objective is to understand the role of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in embryonic development and disease pathogenesis. Specifically, we focus on understanding the role of the minor spliceosome, which is responsible for the splicing of a rare type of intron called the U12-type or minor intron.

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LoTurco Lab

Research in our lab focuses on how and why disruptions in development alter the physiology of neurons and astrocytes in Cerebral Neocortex, and how such alterations cause pathologies in the developing brain. We have a particular interest in the impact of somatic mutations on the physiology of neurons and circuits in the developing neocortex.

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Mulkey Lab

My research is centered understanding the electrophysiological characteristics of mammalian neurons in brainstem regions associated with cardiorespiratory control. We are currently using a combination of slice-patch electrophysiology, fluorescent imaging and genetic approaches to identify ion channels that regulate activity and neurotransmitter modulation of neurons that provide the CO2/H+-dependent drive to breathe (i.e., respiratory chemoreceptors).

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Nishiyama Lab

Research focuses on molecular and cellular mechanisms of heterogeneity and lineage plasticity of NG2 glial cells (also known as polydendrocytes or oligodendrocyte precursor cells) and neuron-glial interactions in normal development and in lesion repair. Techniques used in the lab include mouse genetics combined with immunohistochemistry, tissue culture, fluorescence and confocal microscopy, and biochemical and molecular biological techniques including RNA-sequencing and ChIP sequencing.

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Schwartz Lab

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Sciolino Lab

Our research focuses on defining the connectivity and function of brain circuits that regulate motivational processes related to feeding and reward. We utilize intersectional genetic and optical imaging approaches with the goal to provide future treatments for obesity and psychiatric disorders, such as addiction and anxiety.

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Sun Lab

Research in the laboratory focuses on reproductive physiology and ovarian cancer. Powerful genetic tools in Drosophila will be applied to decipher the formation and physiological function of the secretory cells in the female reproductive tract, the cells of origin of ovarian cancer.

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Tanner Lab

Bench research in the Tanner Lab focuses on the interplay of diet, metabolism, and neuronal function with a particular focus on disease states and the cytological, biochemical, and behavioral manifestations thereof.

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Tzingounis Lab

Our interest is to reveal the mechanisms by which epilepsy-associated molecules and signaling networks lead to epileptogenesis in the neonatal and infantile brain. In the current genomic era, gene mutations are identified in pediatric patients with increasing frequency, but it is unclear how the myriad of identified proteins and signaling networks are organized to regulate neuronal excitability.

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Walikonis Lab

Our research is focused on the identification and characterization of proteins found at the postsynaptic density (PSD), a structure at the postsynaptic membrane of excitatory glutamatergic synapses at the tips of dendritic spines.

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Yu Lab

The lab has two major research directions. 1) Basic research of cancer biology, with the aim of understanding the molecular mechanisms of organ size control and tumorigenesis. 2) Aging and neurodegenerative diseases, specifically molecular mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease (PD).

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Circuit & Behavioral Neuroscience

The goal of this research is to uncover the cell types, circuits, neurotransmitters, and receptor signaling mechanisms that underlie adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Current research strengths include the neural basis of motivated behavior, emotion regulation, learning and memory, sensory, motor and respiratory processing, reward and addiction, gene and environment interactions, as well as the neural substrates of metabolic, neurological and psychiatric disease. Our approach combines state-of-the art behavioral tools with viral and intersectional genetic methods, in vivo calcium imaging, electrophysiology, electron microscopy, optogenetic and chemogenetic technologies, opto-pharmacology, neural tracing and input-output connectivity mapping.

Jackson Lab

Research in the Jackson Lab is focused on the cellular and synaptic neurophysiology of hypothalamic neural circuits that regulate fundamental behavioral states such as sleep, arousal and feeding. In particular, we study cells and circuits in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), which orchestrates fundamental aspects of behavior including arousal, stress, feeding and motivated behavior.

LEARN MORE

Ostroff Lab

Our lab is interested in the neuroanatomical basis of learning and memory, and specifically how synaptic circuits are reorganized when emotional memories are formed. To survive, animals must learn to recognize and respond to dangerous situations.

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Moiseff Lab

The laboratory is currently focused on the study of synchronous flashing by fireflies. The work is done in collaboration with Prof. Jonathan Copeland at Georgia Southern University. Studying synchrony gives us insights into how behavioral and neural systems evolve unique solutions to unique problems. Our long-term goal is to understand general principles of signal processing and how the brain is organized to enable neurons to carry out complex tasks.

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Mulkey Lab

My research is centered understanding the electrophysiological characteristics of mammalian neurons in brainstem regions associated with cardiorespiratory control. We are currently using a combination of slice-patch electrophysiology, fluorescent imaging and genetic approaches to identify ion channels that regulate activity and neurotransmitter modulation of neurons that provide the CO2/H+-dependent drive to breathe (i.e., respiratory chemoreceptors).

LEARN MORE

Sciolino Lab

Our research focuses on defining the connectivity and function of brain circuits that regulate motivational processes related to feeding and reward. We utilize intersectional genetic and optical imaging approaches with the goal to provide future treatments for obesity and psychiatric disorders, such as addiction and anxiety.

LEARN MORE

Tanner Lab

Bench research in the Tanner Lab focuses on the interplay of diet, metabolism, and neuronal function with a particular focus on disease states and the cytological, biochemical, and behavioral manifestations thereof.

LEARN MORE

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Development, Disease & Tissue Repair

Research in this area is directed towards understanding molecular mechanisms required for normal development and maintenance of diverse cell types, how disruption of signaling pathways contributes to disease, and whether targeting these pathways ultimately offers therapeutic potential for disease prevention and treatment. Our approaches include genetics, stem cell biology, CRISPR technology, chromatin analysis, genomics, proteomics, and advanced imaging.

Conover Lab

Our research focuses on developmental neurobiology and stem cell biology with an emphasis on understanding neural stem cell distribution, maintenance, and function in the brain as well as applications of stem cell biology in the treatment of Hydrocephalus and other developmental disorders.

LEARN MORE

Kanadia Lab

Our long-term objective is to understand the role of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in embryonic development and disease pathogenesis. Specifically, we focus on understanding the role of the minor spliceosome, which is responsible for the splicing of a rare type of intron called the U12-type or minor intron.

LEARN MORE

LoTurco Lab

Research in our lab focuses on how and why disruptions in development alter the physiology of neurons and astrocytes in Cerebral Neocortex, and how such alterations cause pathologies in the developing brain. We have a particular interest in the impact of somatic mutations on the physiology of neurons and circuits in the developing neocortex.

LEARN MORE

Nishiyama Lab

Research focuses on molecular and cellular mechanisms of heterogeneity and lineage plasticity of NG2 glial cells (also known as polydendrocytes or oligodendrocyte precursor cells) and neuron-glial interactions in normal development and in lesion repair. Techniques used in the lab include mouse genetics combined with immunohistochemistry, tissue culture, fluorescence and confocal microscopy, and biochemical and molecular biological techniques including RNA-sequencing and ChIP sequencing.

LEARN MORE

Sun Lab

Research in the laboratory focuses on reproductive physiology and ovarian cancer. Powerful genetic tools in Drosophila will be applied to decipher the formation and physiological function of the secretory cells in the female reproductive tract, the cells of origin of ovarian cancer.

LEARN MORE

Tzingounis Lab

Our interest is to reveal the mechanisms by which epilepsy-associated molecules and signaling networks lead to epileptogenesis in the neonatal and infantile brain. In the current genomic era, gene mutations are identified in pediatric patients with increasing frequency, but it is unclear how the myriad of identified proteins and signaling networks are organized to regulate neuronal excitability.

LEARN MORE

Yu Lab

The lab has two major research directions. 1) Basic research of cancer biology, with the aim of understanding the molecular mechanisms of organ size control and tumorigenesis. 2) Aging and neurodegenerative diseases, specifically molecular mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease (PD).

LEARN MORE

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Biology Education Research

This area of research seeks to advance our understanding of teaching and learning effectiveness in Biology education. Specific research questions include inclusive teaching and learning practices, roles of students in active learning settings, and best practices to promote institutional change.

Chen Lab

Our research focuses on the processes involved in the implementation of evidence-based inclusive teaching (EBT) practices in higher education. Currently, we are studying the eco-system that influences faculty adoption of EBT and factors that affect student learning outcomes.

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Redden Lab

As a discipline based educational researcher, I am focused on designing and assessing student centered Physiology classrooms, creating successful peer to peer learning and mentoring networks, and training undergraduates to be effective science communicators.

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Tanner Lab

Mechanisms for improving student learning of core concepts in large-enrollment physiology classrooms

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