My lab explores complex behavioral phenomena in a variety of animal models. Specifically, our work explores the neurochemistry of aggression, learning and drug-sensitive reward in crayfish, territoriality in fruit flies, and behavioral phenotyping in different breeds of dogs. I have always strived to bring students into these projects with meaningful roles. Mentoring critically depends on a student’s active involvement to strengthen the association between research objectives and the student’s own desire to learn, I thus grant a lot of independence in carrying out tasks, the freedom to respond to the challenge with originality, and I try to provide a lot of room for a student’s particular interests. Moreover, in my view, good teaching and good research are compatible enterprises. Crayfish, a main research animal in my lab, are suited for student-led projects. Generations of biologists have been introduced to basic concepts in physiology using the classic compensatory eyestalk rotation response or the properties of the neuromuscular junction. My work, focusing on crustacean fighting behavior and the importance of various neuroactive substances, provides a telling, and for students highly attractive, view of concepts such as motivation, neuromodulation, the causation of aggression, or the biological basis of addiction. The ease with which crayfish can be handled experimentally means that undergraduate students are readily incorporated into research projects ranging from simple behavioral observation to sophisticated pharmacological manipulations of amine levels in freely-moving animals. I strive to foster conditions for a constructive search for answers, a challenge to acquire and employ information, to exercise judgment, create synthesis, articulate meaning, and to communicate effectively.
227 Life Science Building