The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

MCIBS - Neurobiology Faculty

Faculty associated with the neurobiology emphasis area of the MCIBS Graduate Degree Program at Penn State, and a summary of their research interests



Faculty are listed in alphabetical order by last name. To see more information about a faculty member, click on his/her name.

Gong Chen
Professor of Biology
Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences

Molecular mechanism of synaptogenesis and plasticity.

Patrick James Drew
Assistant Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

My lab is interested in understand the neural circuits and signaling pathways that dynamically route the brains blood supply to active areas. We are trying to understand the relationship between changes in neural activity and the corresponding changes in blood flow by using optical methods, such as two-photon laser-scanning microscopy and intrinsic imaging, as well as electrophysiology, in the awake, behaving mouse.

Santhosh Girirajan
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

The primary focus of my research is to discover and characterize genetic changes including genomic deletions and duplications and single nucleotide mutations contributing to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, developmental delay and congenital malformation.

Timothy Jegla
Associate Professor of Biology

We are interested in understanding how ion channels control signaling in the nervous system. We focus on potassium channel-mediated control of firing threshold and ionic mechanisms involved in the generation and processing of sensory potentials. Our research relies on a combination of mouse genetics, electrophysiology, cell biology and compound screening approaches.

Zhi-Chun Lai
Professor of Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Cell and Developmental Biology

Signal Transduction, Growth Control, and Cancer Genetics

Bernhard Luscher
Professor of Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Psychiatry
Director, Center for Molecular Investigation of Neurological Disorders (CMIND)

Development and regulation of GABAergic inhibitory synapses; neural substrates regulating anxiety and cognition.

Yingwei Mao
Assistant Professor of Biology

My lab studies the mechanisms that regulate neurogenesis using cellular and mouse models. In the short term, I would like to focus my research program in determining how abnormal neural progenitor cell (NPC) proliferation and differentiation may lead to mental illnesses. My long-term plan is to use the reagents, experimental systems, mouse models that I develop to further screen novel drugs that can reverse the behavior phenotype in our mouse model and eventually benefit patients with psychiatric disorders.

Richard Ordway
Professor of Molecular Neuroscience and Genetics

Cellular neurobiology using Drosophila.

Melissa Rolls
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Director, Center for Cellular Dynamics
Chair, Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences program

The Rolls lab investigates the cellular basis of neuronal polarity and neuronal responses to injury including degeneration and regeneration.

Moriah L Szpara
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Neurovirology, genomics of pathogen variation, neuron-virus relationships

Claire Thomas
Associate Professor of Biology and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Roles of the cytoskeleton at the cell membrane in epithelial cells, including issues of cell polarity and adhesion, cell signaling, and morphogenesis.