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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

  • Jul 5, 2018, Good luck Haley!
    Haley Brown is on her way to Bloomington, IN today to join the Genome, Cell & Developmental Biology (GCDB) PhD program at Indiana University. We'll miss you Haley!
  • May 24, 2018, Welcome Ali!
    Undergraduate researcher Ali Stone is the newest member of the Evans lab. Ali's project will use CRISPR-based gene modification approaches to study the function of axon guidance genes in the Tribolium embryonic CNS.
  • May 11, 2018, University of Arkansas graduates Alli Loy and Savanna Cathey
    Evans lab undergraduate students Alli Loy and Savanna Cathey were awarded bachelors degrees in Biology from  the University of Arkansas at Fulbright College commencement today. Congratulations Alli and Savanna!
  • Apr 25, 2018, Haley Brown, M.S.
    Haley Brown successfully defended her Master's thesis today, titled "In vivo structure-function analysis of Drosophila Robo1, an axon guidance receptor critical for midline repulsive signaling in the embryonic central nervous system." Haley continues her tradition of lab firsts with this, the lab's first graduate thesis defense. Congratulations Haley!
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