Welcome to our lab web page. I was trained by Richard Bertram and Daniel Margoliash during my graduate studies at Florida State University and the University of Chicago.

My lab is focused on studying the neurobiology of learning and memory, with special emphasis on the neural mechanisms of vocal learning and production. We seek to understand how the brain generates and learns complex sequential behaviors, as well as understand the neurophysiological underpinnings of learning and memory at the levels of synaptic and intrinsic plasticity.

Our research aims to identify the neural substrates for learning and memory. We use both songbirds and rodents to achieve these aims. Songbirds are one of the few species that learn to vocalize as humans learn how to speak and thereby songbirds serve as the preeminent model in which to identify neural mechanisms for vocal learning. The songbird is ideal for this purpose because of its well-described capacity to vocally imitate the songs of other birds, and because its brain has a constellation of discrete, interconnected brain regions that function in the patterning, perception, learning and maintenance of song.

We use a wide range of techniques in our research, including in vitro intracellular recordings from identified neurons, retrograde dye injections via neurosurgical approaches, manipulation of neuronal activity using either electrical microstimulation or pharmacological applications, as well as computational modeling. Together, these methods provide a broad technical approach to understanding how the brain harnesses sensory information to adaptively modify behavior.


Electrophysiology rig for conducting patch clamp intracellular recordings

Glass micropipette patched onto a cortical neuron and filled with dye