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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

  • Nov 10, 2017, Faculty position in Developmental Genetics at the University of Arkansas
    The Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas invites applications for a 9-month tenure-track faculty position in Developmental Genetics at the Assistant Professor level to start in August 2018. Application deadline is Dec. 8, 2017. Details are available at
  • Oct 27, 2017, Arkansas INBRE conference 2017 (Oct. 27-28, 2017)
    Alli and Savanna presented posters at this year's Arkansas INBRE conference, here in Fayetteville. Tim chaired the Biology oral presentation session on Friday, with five excellent talks by undergraduate researchers from institutions across Arkansas.
  • Jul 24, 2017, Welcome Muna!
    CEMB PhD student Muna Abdal-Rhida has joined the Evans lab as our newest graduate student. Muna will be examining the regulation of robo2 transcription during development of the embryonic CNS in Drosophila.
  • Jun 1, 2017, CRISPR-based gene replacement reveals evolutionarily conserved axon guidance functions of Drosophila Robo3 and Tribolium Robo2/3
    The Evans lab published our first CRISPR paper today; we used the technique to compare the axon guidance roles of Drosophila Robo3 and its ortholog from the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, TcRobo2/3. Check it out at EvoDevo!
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