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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

  • May 31, 2024, Agcaoili and Evans, 2024: Drosophila Robo3 guides longitudinal axons partially independently of its cytodomain
    Our paper based on Jessie's undergraduate honors thesis project investigating the functional importance of Robo3's cytoplasmic domain has been published at microPublication Biology!
  • Mar 10, 2024, TAGC 2024
    Selom and Piyasi traveled to Washington D.C, for the 65th Annual Drosophila Research conference, held with The Allied Genetics Conference (TAGC) 2024 and presented posters on their doctoral research.
  • Jan 16, 2024, Welcome Savannah!
    Undergraduate researcher Savannah Beaupre is the newest member of the Evans lab. Savannah will be using CRISPR/Cas9-based gene modification approaches to examine the evolutionary conservation of Slit-dependent midline repulsion in flies and mammals.
  • Jul 11, 2023, PhD Candidate Selom Ametepe
    CEMB PhD student Selom Ametepe succesfully passed her PhD candidacy exam today. Congratulations Selom!
  • Read more news