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Project Leaders

The SBC supports four interrelated research projects.

Dr. William "Trey" Todd 

Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology  william-todd.jpg  |  (307) 314-4207  | Biological Sciences 406  





Project Title: Circadian behavior circuits, Alzheimer’s pathology, chemogenetic output and input

Project Summary:

Aim 1. To examine the relationship between circadian dysfunction of aggression propensity and LMA rhythms to immunohistochemical markers of AD-related neuropathology in the central SCN clock, the SPZ, and their output and input pathways. In tissue from TAPP mice and double WT controls, I will use immunohistochemistry to assess AD neuropathology (a-beta and tau) in the SCN, the SPZ and its major output targets, the VMH and DMH, as well as in regions known to project to the SCN and SPZ. I will also examine cell loss in these brain areas and in RGCs that project to and entrain the SCN. I will use brain tissue and retinas from male mice in which I previously examined aggression and LMA rhythms, and I will add an equal number of additional female mice that will also undergo LMA recordings and aggression tests.

Aim 2. To determine whether chemogenetic activation of the SPZ output pathway, and the RHT input pathway, reduces increased aggression and circadian sleep-wake dysfunction associated with ADrelated neuropathology. Using neural injections of a nonconditional, excitatory chemogenetic viral vector into male and female TAPP mice, I will activate SPZ neurons and RGCs via peripheral injection of the chemogenetic ligand, or its vehicle, at a time of day at which I have shown these cells to normally be active. I will then measure the effects of this phase-dependent neuronal activation on aggression using a resident intruder paradigm, and separately on sleep-wake rhythms using encephalographic (EEG) and electromyographic (EMG) recordings.

Dr. Karen Mrukmcnair-2019-8479.jpg

Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy   |    Health and Sciences Center   |


Zebrafish Models of CNS Injury and Locomotor Recovery

Project Summary:

Approximately 290,000 Americans live with spinal cord injury (SCI) - a better understanding of the process of SCI and new therapeutic strategies are needed to tackle this significant problem. Regenerative species that can overcome the deleterious effects of SCI are a great resource to identify new therapeutic targets. The zebrafish shares many organizational, cellular and molecular pathways with mammals; however, regeneration and locomotor recovery occurs even after complete transection of the spinal cord. The Mruk lab’s long-term goal is to understand whether manipulation of endogenous electrical signals through either electrical stimulation or drug treatment will promote regeneration in otherwise regeneration-deficient cell types. 


Dr. Adam C. Nelson

Assistant Professor, Zoology/Physiology                                                                    adamnelson  |Biological Sciences Bldg 200A |  

Nelson Lab website: 


Discovering how genes, neural circuits, and sensory systems give rise to social relationships.

Mammals often display intricate social organization, from dominance hierarchies to social networks, and this organization arises from individuals following simple rules of interaction and communication. How does the brain enable meaningful social interactions with other group members? 
The goal of our group is to address, from a genetic and neural perspective, how the brain integrates sensory and physiological information to control behavior in a group setting.  We use many different approaches, from behavioral ecology to neuroscience, to understand how the activity of neural circuits is linked to behavioral patterns that underlie coordinated behaviors. Techniques such as long-term automated behavioral analysis, in vivo neural recordings and manipulations, circuit characterization, and animal genetics advance us toward a better understanding of how mammals are able to develop stable and productive social interactions.
Contact Us

Dr. Qian-Quan Sun, SBC Director, Professor

Department of Zoology and Physiology

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-5602



1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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