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Marine Biology

Neuroscience without neurons: Bodies without brains and other musings in science

We use interdisciplinary approaches including theory and experiments to understand how computation is embodied in biological matter. Examples include cognition in single cell protists and morphological computing in animals with no neurons and origins of complex behavior in multi-cellular systems. We will also share new tools to enable “virtual reality arena” for single cells - enabling never before seen behavior of single cells over multiple spatial and temporal scales.

Evolutionary Mosaics & The Interplay Between Innovation and Integration

Evolutionary innovations are scattered throughout the tree of life, and have allowed the organisms that possess them to occupy novel adaptative zones. While the impacts of these innovations are well-documented, much less is known about how these innovations arise in the first place. Patterns of covariation among traits across macroevolutionary timescales can offer insights into the generation of innovation. However, to-date, there is no consensus on the role that trait covariation (i.e. integration and modularity) plays in this process.

Aubrey Gorbman Endowed Lecture: Multimodal communication and reproductive-dependent sensory plasticity in an African cichlid fish

Animals live in a multisensory world and use different sensory channels to communicate during crucial behavioral contexts such as aggression and reproduction. Despite the importance of this multimodal communication, there are relatively few species in which information on sender signals and receiver responses are known. How do individuals send information in multiple sensory channels and where is this information processed and integrated in the receiver’s brain to produce context-dependent behaviors?

Building an integrated framework for tissue morphogenesis with the zebrafish inner ear

How simple tissues give rise to geometrically complex organs with robust shapes and functions is a fundamental question in biology with important implications in disease and translational medicine. The current mechanistic framework explains how upstream genetic and biochemical information pattern cellular mechanics and thereby tissue dynamics. In this framework, the main driving force is cell-intrinsic and generated by actomyosin contractility.

Unwrapping Glial Engineering in the Vertebrate Nervous System

The long-term goal of the Kucenas Lab is to fundamentally understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate neural-glial and glial-glial interactions during nervous system development and injury/regeneration. Using Danio rerio (zebrafish) as a model system, we combine genetic and pharmacological perturbation, single cell manipulation, laser ablation/axotomy, small molecule screening, and in vivo, time-lapse imaging to directly and continuously observe glial cell origins, behaviors, and interactions in an intact vertebrate.


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