- Ph.D. Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1/1977
- B.S. Zoology, University of California, Davis, 1/1972
- NIH and MDA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977-1981
Tenure Track Appointments
- Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 08/1992 –
- Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 08/1987 – 07/1992
- Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 08/1981 – 07/1987
- NIH and MDA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, 06/1977 – 07/1981
Summary Statement of Research Interests
Professor Herrera’s research focuses on the development, growth, regulation and plasticity of synapses in the vertebrate nervous system.
Herrera studies the formation and subsequent elimination of the nervous system’s overabundance of synaptic connections during embryonic development. He has shown this occurs through an activity-dependent, competitive process controlled by the expression of ion channels, which results in the permanent adult set of neural connections.
His research on neural development, learning and memory, and neural recovery from injury focuses on long-term effects of altered activity on synaptic efficiency. He uses a frog model to focus on events at the neuro-muscular junction in this research.
In another project, Herrera’s lab investigates the role of Schwann cells in the development and the growth of peripheral synapses. Schwann cells are glial cells that cover and sustain the synapse. He has revealed that Schwann cells lead the growth of motor axons during new synapse formation and synaptic enlargement.
- Provost’s Undergraduate Research Associates Program. Embryonic development of skeletal muscle in frogs $10,000, 2010-2011
- Provost’s Undergraduate Research Associates Program. Plasticity of Synaptic Connections during Embryogenesis $10,000, 2009-2010
- USC Fund for Innovative Undergraduate Teaching. Redesign of a Large Introductory Biology Class $15,000, 2006-2007
- VanSaun, M., Herrera, A. A., Werle, M. (2004). Structural alterations at the neuromuscular junctions of matrix metalloproteinase-3 null mutant mice. Journal of Neurocytology/Kluwer Academic Press. Vol. 32, pp. 1129-1142.
- Herrera, A. A., Zeng, Y. (2003). Activity-dependent switch from synapse formation to synapse elimination during development of neuromuscular junctions. Journal of Neurocytology/Kluwer Academic Press. Vol. 32, pp. 817-833.
- Reddy, L. V., Koirala, S., Sugiura, Y., Herrera, A. A., Ko, C. (2003). Glial cells maintain synaptic structure and function and promote development of the neuromuscular junction in vivo. Neuron/Cell Press. Vol. 40, pp. 563-580.
- Herrera, A. A., Qiang, H., Ko, C. (2000). The role of perisynaptic Schwann cells in development of neuromuscular junctions in the frog (Xenopus laevis). Journal of Neurobiology/Wiley. Vol. 45, pp. 237-254.
- Herrera, A. A., Qiang, H., Ko, C. (2000). The role of perisynaptic Schwann cells in development of neuromuscular junctions in the frog (Xenopus laevis). Journal of Neurobiology. Vol. 45, pp. 237-254.
- Undergraduate Research Web Site, This website features research results obtained by undergraduate researchers supervised by Albert Herrera: www-rcf.usc.edu/~aherrera, 2004
Other Service to the University
- Faculty Sponsor, Operation Smile (pre-medical/dental student organization),
- Faculty Sponsor, Chicanos/Latinos for Health Education (pre-medical student organization),
- Faculty Director, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society,
- Member, Advisory Board, Our Savior Catholic Center at USC,
- Member, Selection Committee, USC Mellon Awards for Excellence in Mentoring ,
- Judge, USC Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work,
- Society for Neuroscience, 1981 – 2010