Barbara O'Brien

Barbara O'Brien

Ph.D. Candidate


Sensory neurons transduce external stimuli into an electrochemical signal used to communicate with the rest of the nervous system. It is this polarity in function that corresponds to the polarity in structure such that sensory neurons, like all neurons, have an input and an output; thus, neurons exhibit a polarity in anatomy that corresponds to that polarity in function. Specifically, all neurons have dendrites, into which information flows, a cell body or soma, and a single axon out of which information is sent to the recipient cell or cells. This general scheme in neuron anatomy and signaling is conserved across all neuronal types and across all species. My project focuses on the morphological development of dendrites, specifically the tendency to self-avoid and establish territories of receptive fields, the transcription factors that mediate branching, and targets of a specific transcription factor, MEC-3. To study this, I use a genetic approach to characterize dendrite morphology of two neurons (PVDL and PVDR) in the model organism C. elegans.

 

 

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Education:

BS Biology/Psychology
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Current Position
Ph.D. Candidate
Neuroscience Program