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principal investigator

As an animal, your nervous system allows you to sense and respond to your environment, form and retrieve memories, and learn from past experiences. All of this is possible because the billions of nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord are connected to each other and to other cells throughout your body in very precise ways. Although our brains change as we grow and age, many of the most fundamental connections are formed very early during embryonic development. And, although everyone’s brain is unique, basic patterns of neural connectivity are shared in humans and non-human animals alike.

Our lab is interested in how animal nervous systems are properly wired during development. Using the embryonic insect nervous system as a model, we study the genetic, molecular, and cellular mechanisms that specify patterns of neuronal connectivity. We use insects like the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster because they have relatively simple nervous systems, but they are built using the same principles as more complex brains like our own. The molecular and genetic tools available in Drosophila allow us to manipulate genes and cells in the developing fly embryo while we examine how they assemble themselves into a functioning nervous system. For more details about specific projects we are working on in the lab, see our Research page.

Lab News

  • Sep 9, 2019, Welcome Tatiana!
    Undergraduate researcher Tatiana Castillo Hernandez is the newest member of the Evans lab. Tatiana's project will examine the evolutionary conservation of midline attractive signaling mechanisms in insects.
  • Jul 22, 2019, LaFreda J. Howard, Ph.D.
    LaFreda Howard successfully defended her CEMB PhD thesis today, titled "The functional and structural analysis of Drosophila robo2 in axon guidance", and becomes our lab's first ever PhD graduate. Congratulations Dr. Howard!
  • Jul 12, 2019, Benjamin Wadsworth, M.S.
    Ben Wadsworth successfully defended his CEMB Master's thesis today, titled "The functional conservation of Frazzled in insects." Congratulations Ben!
  • May 11, 2019, University of Arkansas graduates LaFreda Howard, Ben Wadsworth, and Ali Stone
    Our lab celebrated a graduation trifecta this weekend, as Bachelors student Ali Stone, Masters student Ben Wadsworth, and PhD student LaFreda Howard received their degrees at the Fulbright College and University commencement ceremonies this weekend. Congratulations Freda, Ben, and Ali!
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