Biophysical development of cortical neurons
Cortical neurons change the signals they send as they grow up.
In 2014 I made a dramatic and pivotal decision: to turn away from my career in physics publishing and start again as a neuroscience researcher.
Applying my background in biophysics, I embarked on a project at The University of Bristol, as part of the Neural Dynamics programme to try to better understand the electrical signals that neurons use to communicate, and observe how these change over development, under the supervision of Dr Mike Ashby and Dr Nathan Lepora.
My work took a wide variety of approaches: electrophysiology, dye-filling, fluorescent and confocal microscopy, mathematical modelling and optimisation of computational approaches.
This work explored how neurons of the cortex change in size, shape and activity over the first two weeks of life, attempting to show how these physical changes influence neuronal communication, and ultimately the formation of networks of cells that can carry out complex behaviour.
I have presented my work at a number of conferences, including but not limited to FENS 2018 (Berlin), Society for Neuroscience 2017 (Washington DC), OCNS 2017 (Antwerp), and BNA 2017 (Birmingham).
My thesis Postnatal Development of the Action Potential Waveform in Cortical Neurons: A Biophysical Perspective was submitted and examined in Autumn 2018.
I am interested in how brain cells go from collections of biological molecules to communicating networks, sharing complex patterns of information that facilitate thoughts, actions, learning and memory. I am particularly interested in how this happens over development, and how it might be disrupted in developmental diseases.
Science communication and outreach is an important part of the career of any researcher. In recent years I have been involved with the following projects:
Creative Reactions Bristol (Co Organiser)
Pint of Science
Bristol University Art of Science Exhibition
Wanstrow Christmas Lectures