Biological Physics: Neuronal structural dynamics

Our laboratory is interested in developing imaging software and instrumentation that will allow us to measure the spatial dynamics of growing neuronal structures in a small, transparent, model organism called C. elegans. C. elegans is a small nematode (round worm) with a uniquely simple nervous system—it contains only 302 neurons and the connectivity between these neurons has been fully mapped out. Since the worm is a popular model organism, there are a vast arrays of molecular tools to fluorescently label individual neurons so one can map out is structural design and even read out and modulate its activity. We have several experiments in progress to measure the dynamical movement of neurons and also their activity in C. elegans at the network level. The eventual goal is to be able to reconstruct the neuronal dynamics that underlie universal behaviors like sensory measurement and response in holistic fashion. One example is as follows:

Depending on the student, the project can lean towards computation, experiment, or a combination of both. Students interested in learning microscopy, some neurobiology, some microfluidics, will be trained so they can work independently on developing a protocol to get time-lapse images of neuronal development. Students interested in learning computational data analysis techniques will be trained to perform image processing programming using MATLAB or LabVIEW. It is also possible for students to work on both the computational and experimental side of this project.  

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. William Ryu


Rohit Singh



Physics / Astronomy


Life sciences


University of Toronto


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