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"Neuroethology: Frontiers in Understanding Biology"

A symposium to be held at

Florida State University (FSU)

March 18-19 2011

Neuroethology seeks to understand the neural, molecular and evolutionary bases of an organismís natural behavior in its environment. Individual investigators may pose molecular, developmental, structural, evolutionary, and ecological questions using techniques derived from all branches of the life and physical sciences. Neuroethology draws on medicine, psychology, physics, computer science, statistics, and philosophy as well as the biological sciences Ė and is unusually interdisciplinary even within biology. This symposium highlights recent advances in understanding the molecular and genomic regulation of behavior and neural systems underlying important evolutionary processes. Topics will bridge all three major research areas within the FSU Biological Science Department: Cell and Molecular Biology, Ecology and Evolution, and Neuroscience. Our speakers are internationally renowned investigators whose research illustrates both the breadth and depth of modern neuroethology.


Please register for the symposium - IT'S FREE - if you plan to attend use the registration link located below. It is not essential to register in order to attend but it will allow us to prepare name-tags and plan for refereshments.

We invite all Biology Dept. and Program in Neuroscience labs to submit posters to be displayed in the King Life Sciences Building lobby and atrium for the duration of the meeting - to showcase work by FSU scientists. To submit an abstract, please go to the registration page.

Click here to register


Click here for a schedule of the symposium


Harold Zakon
"Hormonal regulation of gene expression and channel trafficking optimizes signaling in electric fish"

Harold H. Zakon
Professor, Section of Neurobiology, University of Texas, Austin

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Honors and Awards:
The James A. and Faith Miller Fellowship. Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory University of Texas Teaching Excellence Award

Research: Harold Zakon studies the molecular/genomic mechanisms of modulation, regulation and evolution of social communication signals, using voltage gated ion-channels in electric fish and as a model system. His research demonstrates novel behavioral, circadian and hormonal regulation of protein expression, mediated by alternative splicing and trafficking as well as transcriptional regulation and phosphorylation. , Other research studies include the evolution of TTX toxin resistance in a coordinated fashion across a family of genes, the molding of electric discharge patterns by NMDA receptors in the brain, calcium regulation of memory and behavioral studies of communication and social interaction in weakly-electric fish.

David Clayton
"Integrating genomes, brain and behavior in the study of songbirds"

David F. Clayton
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Illinois, Champaign
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Honors and Awards:
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Research: David Claytonís research focuses on the interface between the nervous system and large scale changes in gene expression associated with development, social behaviors and experience. Next-generation sequencing techniques are integral to his research, which uses a comparative genomics approach, with zebra finch and other songbirds as models, combined with molecular/genetic methods to study the neural basis of adaptive behavior.

Darcy Kelley
"Cellular and molecular contributions to the neuro-evolution of vocal communication"

Darcy B. Kelley
Harold Weintraub Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University

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Honors and Awards:
Weintraub Chair in Biological Sciences, Columbia University
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Research: Darcy Kelley studies vocal communication focusing on molecular, behavioral and evolutionary mechanisms that underlie the exquisite match between hearing and specific vocalizations. Using molecular, genomic and highly sophisticated physiological methods, she has identified sex-specific structures, neural circuits and interactive vocal behaviors that shaped by the expression of sex steroids and their receptors in African clawed frogs. Androgen induces muscle stem-cell proliferation, the expression of a male larynx-specific myosinand prevents cell death, while estrogen controls laryngeal synaptic strength. The appearance of click-type calls in one branch of the phylogeny appears to rely on the loss of part of the androgen-driven program for vocal masculinization.

David Satelle
"Can we combine functional and chemical genomics with automated behavioural analysis to meet 21st century health challenges?"

David B. Satelle
Head of Neural Signalling, MRC Functional Genomics Unit and Professor of Molecular Neurobiology, Oxford University, UK

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Honors and Awards:
Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford
Sc.D., University of Cambridge 1990
Formerly Fellow of Queens' College, University of Cambridge

Research: David Sattelle uses C. elegans and D. melanogaster models of human neuro-degenerative and neuromuscular diseases diseases to screen RNAi and drug libraries in the search for new routes to therapy and new treatments. Models mimicking aspects of Alzheimerís disease (AD) pathology have highlighted roles for novel risk factors emerging from AD genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and identified new inhibitors of Ŗ-amyloid aggregation. Models for spinal muscular atrophy and congenital myasthenia syndrome are also studied. Work on human, nematode and insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and related channels yield insights into the roles of these molecules in neural signalling and as targets for candidate therapeutics for Alzheimerís disease, and animal health drugs. These studies involve genomics, genetics, molecular biology, electrophysiology and automated behavioural analysis.

Emilie Rissman
"Social Behavior Shaped by Environment, Genetics and Epigenetics"

Emilie F. Rissman
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Virginia

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Honors and Awards:
NARSAD Distinguished Investigator
Frank A. Beach Award in Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Research: Emilie Rissmanís current work focuses on sexually dimorphic behavior and its genetic bases including both behavioral and epigenetic effects of steroid hormones and their receptors, and the influence of sex-chromosome genes. Sex steroids, well known to regulate sexually dimorphic development of vertebrate brain structure and later social behavior, also alter histone methylation in the forebrain and interact with dietary phytoestrogens to regulate steroid-receptor expression. These studies complement Rissmanís earlier work on behavioral induction of brain-hormone expression and trade-offs between energy status and reproductive investment.

Hans Hofmann
"Genes, Neurons, and Hormones: An Integrative Analysis of Social Behavior and Its Evolution"

Hans A. Hofmann
Associate Professor of Integrative Biology, Fellow at Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas, Austin

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Honors and Awards:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Neuroscience
Frank A. Beach Award in Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Research: Hans. Hofmann studies molecular, cellular, and hormonal mechanisms underlying social behavior and its evolution. He is also a pioneer in neurogenomics. His current interests include (1) identifying genes that regulate social dominance and sex roles in cichlid fish, (2) understanding the role of neuropeptides in regulating aggressive behavior, (3) comparative analyses of ecological, neuroanatomical, and molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of monogamy vs. polygamy in African cichlids, and (4) developing techniques for identifying molecular correlates of social behavior at the level of single cells.

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