A note about Undergraduate Research during Covid-19: Our lab continutes to provide Undergraduate RA opportunities in Fall 2020, including to those who will be working on their Distinguished Majors projects, USOAR students and new applicants. The research experiences during the pandemic will include in person training (with strict adharence to CDC and university guidelines), take-home data collection and analysis tasks, writing and lab meetings.
Synaptic connections among neurons that make up sensory pathways and other functional circuitries are the building blocks for how our brain functions, or in other words, how we see, hear, taste, move, learn, make plans or remember. These connections are amanable to change throughout life, allowing us to learn new skills, or to adapt to any external or internal alteration, including as we grow or age. By studying the morphological properties of neurons, synapses and identified axons, we aim to understand the synaptic inputs that converge on functionally distinct brain nuclei, how those inputs develop to form functional circuitries of the adult brain, and how they re-wire or degenerate.
What are the mechanisms by which the critical period of developmental plasticity is initiated, and terminated? Is there a change in the neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, hormones or their receptors that can signal the changes in sensory perception or the behavior? How do glial cells interact with neurons in developing or aging brains? Using anatomical techniques including immuno-electron microscopy, ultrastructural morphometry, tract-tracing and confocal microscopy, we study synaptic curcuitries in visual and gustatory sensory pathways during postnatal development, healthy adulthood and aging stages of our life span.
Professor & Chair Department of Psychology University of Virginia
I received my MD degree from Istanbul Unversity School of Medicine in 1986, and my PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1996. After my postdoctoral training appointments in NYU Center for Neural Science and New York Medical School Department of Physiology, I moved to University of Virginia as an Assistant Professor in Department of Psychology in 2000. I became tenured Associate Professor in 2007 and Professor in 2013. I have been serving as the chair of my department since 2016.
My lab is equipped as a systems neuroanatomy, electron microscopy, quantitative morphology and connectomics facility. The courses I teach at the undergraduate and the graduate level include Neural Mechanisms of Behavior (PSYC 4200); Psychobiology Lab (PSYC3210); Forum on Professional Conduct and Scientific Ethics (PSYC8040); Neural Mechanisms (PSYC7200); Psychopharmacology; and Plasticity.
187 Gilmer Hall (office)
177/173 Gilmer Hall (lab)
102 Gilmer Hall (department chair office)