Faculty

Arbib, Michael

University Professor, Fletcher Jones Chair in Computer Science, and Professor of Computer Science, Biological Sciences, and Psychology

The thrust of Michael Arbib's work is expressed in the title of his first book, Brains, Machines and Mathematics (McGraw-Hill, 1964). The brain is not a computer in the current technological sense, but he has based his career on the argument that we can learn much about machines from studying brains, and much about brains from studying machines. He has thus always worked for an interdisciplinary environment in which computer scientists and engineers can talk to neuroscientists and cognitive scientists.

Arnold, Donald

Professor of Biological Sciences

 We are using novel recombinant probes, known as intrabodies, to visualize and manipulate synaptic connectivity in vivo. Areas being explored include development, learning and memory, sleep and neurodegenerative disease. 

Bottjer, Sarah

Professor of Biological Sciences and Psychology

 The major goal of our lab is to understand how experience sculpts neural circuits for learning during development.  Certain types of learning occur only during sensitive periods of development, and coincide with heightened phases of neural plasticity. In humans, for example, children are much more adept at learning languages than are adults, and the time at which the capacity for language acquisition decreases seems to correlate with the end of the period of maturation of the cerebral hemispheres.

Dickman, Dion

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences 

 Synapse development, function, and plasticity using a combination of Drosophila genetics, confocal imaging, and electrophysiological approaches.

Finch, Caleb

University Professor, ARCO/William F. Kieschnick Chair in the Neurobiology of Aging and Professor of Gerontology, Biology and Psychology

 Finch's main interests are the genomic regulation of aging processes. He has authored three books: Longevity, Senescence, and the Genome (1990); Aging: A Natural History (1995, with R. Ricklefs); Chance, Development, and Aging (2000, with TBL Kirkwood); and The Biology of Human Longevity (2007). In 450 reports and reviews since 1966, Finch has lead several developments in the fields of the neuroendocrinology and pharmacology of normal aging and Alzheimer disease, and in the biodemography of aging.

Herrera, Albert

Professor of Biological Sciences

I am interested in understanding the embryonic development of synapses in the vertebrate nervous system, using the neuromuscular junction as a model system. Current research focuses on synapse elimination, the process by which the abundant but labile connections formed early in development are reduced to a smaller but stable number. This process is largely determines the connectivity between neurons in adulthood.

Hires, S. Andrew

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Our lab seeks to understand the role the cortex plays in the processing of tactile sensations and generation of perception.  To do so, we record from cortical neurons during quantified behavior, correlate sensory input to neural activity and modify, delete or synthesize perceptions via patterned photostimulation of cortex.  In other words, our work aims to provide read, translation and write access to cortical circuits. Ultimately, we seek to develop therapeutic interventions for neurological disorders of sensory processing and tactile feedback systems for prosthetics.

Hirsch, Judith

Professor of Biological Sciences

Our research explores the earliest stages of visual cortical processing. Specifically, we ask how thalamocortical connections and circuits within the striate cortex itself resolve basic features of the visual scene. Individual projects are designed to explore key aspects of cortical integration, such as interaction between synaptic input and intrinsic properties of the membrane, functional specializations of intracortical pathways and the synaptic basis and physiology of responses to visual pattern.

Ko, Chien-Ping

Professor of Biological Sciences

We study synaptic structure, function, formation, repair, maintenance, and synapse-glia interactions, as well as diseases at the neuromuscular junction. Currently, we are focusing on cellular and molecular mechanisms of the pathogenesis and translational research of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of infant mortality characterized by the synaptic defects, loss of spinal motor neurons and widespread muscle atrophy.

Liman, Emily

Professor of Biological Sciences

 My laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms that underlie taste and other chemical senses and the regulation of TRP ion channels involved in these processes, using a combination of approaches that include cellular imaging, patch clamp electrophysiology, mouse genetics and molecular biology.

McKemy, David

Associate Professor of Biological Science; Section Head

Peripheral somatosensory neurons critically differentiate innocuous stimuli from those that cause tissue damage and pain (nociception). We use a combination of cellular, genetic, and behavioral approaches to understand how these cells transduce these discrete environmental stimuli, and their contribution to inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

Swanson, Larry

Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences, Neurology and Psychology; Provost Professor; Member National Academy of Sciences

We are interested in the organization of neural networks that control motivated behavior in mammals. The approach is mostly structural, and to display and model results we are developing computer graphics and database approaches.

Watts, Alan

Professor of Biological Sciences, Physiology and Biophysics

Our work is directed towards understanding the structure and function of the brain networks that contribute to the development, manifestation, and complications of diabetes and obesity. We are particularly interested in how these networks function to control blood glucose and the secretion of hormones from the pancreas and adrenal gland. 

Emeritus Faculty

Mcclure, William

Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences

Thompson, Richard

Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences

Adjunct Faculty

Chen, Lin

Professor of Biological Sciences

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) have been studied extensively for several decades because of their important physiological roles and medical relevance. My lab has been pursuing direct structural analyses of nAChRs at high resolution. These studies aim to provide atomic framework to aid mechanistic studies and structure-based design of agonists, antagonists and allosteric modulators of nAChRs.

Simerly, Richard

Professor of Pediatrics and Biological Sciences

 My laboratory studies the development of neural pathways that are required for survival and reproduction. We use mouse genetics, explant tissue culture models, confocal imaging, and computer-assisted image analysis to understand how hormones specify numbers of brain cells and the patterns of neural connections that form between them.

  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • University of Southern California
  • Allan Hancock Foundation Building
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371