I teach courses in
organismal biology, ethology, and systems-level neuroscience. |
This course addresses a fundamental question in Neuroscience – how do brains
control animal behavior? The goal of the course is to introduce students to the
mechanisms, from the level of molecules to complete brain systems, by which
animals control their behavior. We will cover fundamental topics in
Neuroscience including the structure and organization of animal brains, the
functional design of neurons including anatomical and physiological properties,
and the functional organization of sensory and motor systems.
This 14 to 16 day course for undergraduates includes travel to the rainforests
and Andean highlands of mainland Ecuador, and a tour of the Galápagos
Islands. The course starts with two days of pre-departure lectures on a wide
variety of topics. These lectures are designed to help students to recognize
the most important biological and other phenomena that they will encounter
during their travels.
The remainder of the course is spent traveling in Ecuador. During our travels
with knowledgeable guides, we also hear lectures from Ecuadorian professors and
This semester-long laboratory course for advanced undergraduates focuses on
hands-on experiences for the neurosciences. The course begins with
neuroanatomy, including dissections of sheep and other vertebrate brains, and
observations of plastinated human brains. Next is behavior - students observe
the behavior of weakly electric fish in the laboratory. Finally are the
neurophysiological exercises, which include
electrocardiograms, extracellular neurophysiology, and finally intracellular
recordings from medicinal leeches.
This semester-long lecture course for first-semester undergraduates
reviews and introduces a sampling of current and important fields in
modern biology. Topics include evolution, biomechanics, infectious
disease, genetics, and behavioral neuroscience.
The NS&B course is an intensive 8-week hands-on foray into the behavioral
neurosciences for graduate students and beyond. The course is divided into
four 2-week cycles. Each cycle features 1 to 4 model systems that varies from
year to year. Model systems have included leech, stomatogastric ganglia,
electric fish, fly flight, chick
auditory brainstem, insect social behavior, songbird learning and production,
whisking in rodents, learning in cerebellar circuits, and behavioral genetics
in C. elegans, mice, and zebra fish. I have been faculty in the course for
electric fish and birdsong systems.
includes reviews of the major neuroethological
model systems that occur within the country of Ecuador, including bats, owls,
weakly electric fishes, songbirds, ants, bees, and other invertebrates. The
course includes a 3 day field trip to the cloud forest Yanayacu Biological Research Station.
During this trip students gather behavioral data, design long-term
experiments, and conduct neurophysiological recordings. After the field trip,
the course focusses on data analysis using Octave, a free replacement for Matlab.