Welcome to Haspel Lab

We study the neurobiology of locomotion in the nematode C. elegans. Our focus is at the levels from neuronal network to behavior and we have projects that address the connectivity, activity, and recovery from injury, of the locomotion network. Only 75 motoneurons of eight classes innervate 75 body wall muscle cells to produce the dorsoventral undulatory wave of activation that travels either backward or forward, against the direction of locomotion.

Our lab is a member of the NJIT - Rutgers federated department of Biological Sciences. We currently live in Central King building on NJIT campus.

The goals of our group are 1) To nurture lab members and improve ourselves as scientists and 2) To discover principles that underlie animal locomotion by studying the neuroethology of locomotion in the nematode C. elegans.

Contact Us

Calcium level in muscle cells during locomotion, visualized with the calcium indicator GCaMP3 (strain courtesy of Wang laboratory).


We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.

C. elegans

Ceanorhabditis elegans is a 1mm long nematode, a round worm.


Each hermaphrodite worm has exactly 302 neurons and the same neurons are identifiable in every animal by their location and morphology. The connections among most of the neurons were mapped by reconstruction of electron micrographs. This seminal worm by White et al that was published in 1986 is the only existing wiring diagram at the organism level (AKA “connectome”) in any animal and was not surpassed since then. We are interested in reconstructing the locomotion network in multiple animals and are collaborating with the Briggman group at NINDS to use Serial Block-face Scanning Electron Microscopy to acquire the data. [figure: 131105_SBFEM_MethodFig]


We use optophysiology (with genetically encoded calcium and voltage sensors) and optogenetics (with genetically encoded light-induced effectors) to record and control the activity of neurons and muscle. [figure: 131105_ForBackAB_Results2011Fig]

Recovery from Injury

We will use laser axotomy to inflict very specific and localized damage to motoneurons of the locomotion network and follow the robustness and recovery of the network activity and animal behavior. [figure: 131105_fLaserAxotomy_MethodFig]

Our Skills


Imaging: fluorescence microscopy, calcium and voltage imaging, confocal imaging

Transgenic animals: Molecular biology, nematode maintanance and transgenics


Scientific writing:

Worms behavior
Worms neurobiology
Worms metods

C. elegans locomotion by the numbers

Our Team

This is our dedicated team who work day-in and day-out.

Our Alumni

These are members who have been part of our team in the past.

C. Elegans:

Contact Us

It's the little details that are vital.
Little things make big things happen.

Do you want a piece of the action,
have a question or comment?

Please feel free to send us an email.

Haspel Lab
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Department of Biological Sciences
University Heights

To send us stuff:

NJIT Biology Dept.
Central King Building 420
100 Summit Street,
Newark, NJ 07102

Some PDFs you might like to download

Gal's CV

Haspel, Deng, Harreguy, Tanvir (2020) Elegantly. In Neural control of movement. ed.: Whelan, Sharples

Haspel, Severi, Fauci, Cohen, Tytell, Morgan (2021) Resilience of Neural Networks for Locomotion. J Physiol

Deng, Araya, Jin, Denham, Yuval, Ranner, Cohen, Haspel (2021) Inhibition underlies fast undulatory locomotion in C. elegans. eNeuro

Tanvir, Rivera, Severi, Haspel, Soares (2021) Evolutionary and homeostatic changes in morphology of visual dendrites of Mauthner cells in Astyanax blind cavefish. J Comp Neurol

Harreguy, Marfil, Gabel, Chung, Haspel (2020) Ytterbium-doped fiber femtosecond-pulsed laser offers robust design with deep and precise axotomy. Scientific Report

Gjorgjieva, Biron, Haspel (2014) Neurobiology of C. elegans Locomotion: Where Do We Stand? AIBS BioScience

Join the Lab!

We have available positions for postdocs and grad students.
The NJIT-Rutgers federated Biological Sciences department provides
an excellent environment to train as a scientist.
More information is here and here.
If interested, send an email.