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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

  • Apr 21, 2022, Congratulations Jessie!
    Jessie Agcaoili successfully defended his Honors Thesis today, titled "The effects of deletion of the cytoplasmic domain of Robo3 on Drosophila." Well done, Jessie!
  • Oct 1, 2021, Welcome Keity!
    Graduate student Keity Johanna Farfán Pira has joined the Evans lab (temporarily) as a visiting J-1 Exchange Scholar. Keity is a Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Dr. Marcos Nahmad at the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (Cinvestav-IPN) in Mexico City, where her research focuses on the role of the vestigial gene in regulating wing size in Drosophila species. Keity will spend the last few months of 2021 here in Fayetteville learning CRISPR-based techniques for gene modification in Drosophila. Her visit is funded through a Company of Biologists Travelling Fellowship.
  • Sep 30, 2021, Welcome Piyasi!
    CEMB PhD student Piyasi Ghosh has joined the Evans lab as our newest graduate student. Piyasi's PhD project will investigate the evolutionary conservation of attractive Netrin/Frazzled signaling in flies and beetles.
  • Aug 19, 2021, Howard et al, 2021: The Slit-binding Ig1 domain is required for multiple axon guidance activities of Drosophila Robo2
    Our paper based on LaFreda's PhD thesis project on the functional importance of Robo2's Ig1 domain is now a peer-reviewed publication! You can read the final published paper online at Genesis.
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