I am fascinated by food-brain connections. All animals must regularly make important feeding decisions, such as when to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat, and these choices impact the overall health of the animal. The nervous system plays a critical role in each step of this process: detecting a variety of chemicals in food and drink, sensing internal levels of energy and nutrients, forming associations and memories to specific foods, and ultimately integrating this information to coordinate appropriate food intake.
My research utilizes powerful genetic tools in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to investigate the neurobiology of feeding behavior at a molecular, cellular, and circuit level.
Experiments in my lab will be aimed at answering the following questions:
-How do specialized taste cells detect chemicals in food to direct feeding?
-How is the internal, metabolic state of an animal integrated into food-sensing neural circuits to modulate feeding behaviors?
-How does dysregulated food-sensing or metabolism impact behavior and health?