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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

  • Oct 12, 2020, Preprint: Conserved and divergent aspects of Robo receptor signaling and regulation between Drosophila Robo1 and C. elegans SAX-3
    Our lab's second preprint is live today on bioRxiv! You can read it at this link.
  • Mar 31, 2020, Preprint: Minimal structural elements required for midline repulsive signaling and regulation of Drosophila Robo1
    Our lab's first preprint is live today on bioRxiv! You can read it at this link.
  • Jan 15, 2020, Welcome Jessie and Will!
    Undergraduate researchers Jessie Agcaoili and Will Chesshir are the newest members of the Evans lab. Jessie and Will will be using CRISPR/Cas9-based gene modification approaches to examine the mechanisms of Robo receptor signaling in Drosophila.
  • 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.
  • Read more news