Research in my lab focuses on how motor output is structured by precise sensory input. To do so, we study the flight control circuitry of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. By studying these questions in Drosophila, we can leverage the powerful genetic toolkit available for the mapping, imaging, and manipulation of neural circuits. The lab directs its attention on structures that are unique to flies, known as the halteres, which act as dual-function gyroscopes that help structure the wingstroke. We take an integrative approach, combining in vivo imaging, muscle physiology, and behavior.
Faculty Research Area: QBio
The Gordon Lab at UNC studies interactions between the germ cells and somatic support cells of C. elegans. We want to learn how the germ stem cells influence their stem cell niche and vice versa, and how these interactions change over developmental and evolutionary time.
Dr. Brian Kyle Taylor is the Principal Investigator for the Quantitative Biology and Engineering Sciences (QBES – pronounced “cubes”) laboratory. Broadly, his lab aims to use engineering and mathematics to advance the knowledge-base and understanding of biology and animal behavior, while simultaneously leveraging the design principles observed in biology to enhance and expand the engineer’s toolkit. In particular, his lab currently studies animal magnetoreception and multimodal navigation (i.e., how animals get from point A to point B using the earth’s magnetic field alongside other sensory cues). Dr. Taylor’s lab employs tools such as computer simulations, mobile robots, tethered robots, and motion capture to advance the cutting edge in both the understanding of animal navigation, and the development of autonomous navigation systems.
Macrophages are highly dynamic and widespread blood cells that play many important functions in vertebrates. They are the main phagocytes throughout the body, responsible for clearing away dying cells, damaged tissue, and pathogens, to maintain tissue integrity. Macrophages circulate in the bloodstream as monocytes or are stationed in strategic locations of the body as tissue macrophages where their phagocytic roles are critical, such as microglia in the brain, Kupffer cells in the liver, Langerhans cells in the skin, and osteoclasts in the bone.
Of particular interest are the normal roles and mechanisms of macrophages and microglia in the development and maintenance of the nervous system that remain far less understood than their functions in disease and injury. In the healthy brain, microglia have been implicated in shaping brain circuitry and neuronal development as well as in possibly affecting behavioral outcomes. They have unique embryonic origins from primitive macrophages that migrate into the brain and remain thereafter through life. These versatile glial cells provide the first line of defense and respond to a wide variety of environmental factors, such as protein aggregates, apoptotic cells, injured tissue, and pathogens, as well as to intracellular dysfunctions. Overall, the developmental process by which macrophages take residence and differentiate into tissue macrophages, and the contribution of macrophages to normal animal development remain not well understood. We are addressing these two fundamental areas of macrophage biology in the context of how macrophages participate in the nervous system.
Research in the lab focuses on how a single genome gives rise to a variety of cell types and body parts during development. We use Drosophila as a model organism to investigate (1) how transcription factors access DNA to regulate complex patterns of gene expression, and (2) how post-translational modification of histones contributes to maintenance of gene expression programs over time. We combine genomic approaches (e.g. chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing) with Drosophila genetics and transgenesis to address both of these questions. Defects in cell fate specification and maintenance of cell identity often occur in human diseases, including cancer. (website)