Assistant Professor, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences
Ph.D. (Health and Safety Education) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Helping the students learn the process of “Community program planning, implementation and evaluation” is one of my primary missions in teaching, helping students learn skills to promote health in different communities in tangible and effective manners.
“The US health care delivery system comparing with other nations, with a focus on the elderly and the disadvantaged”, is one of my primary research interests.
As a health educator, I have been involved in a variety of community health education/promotion efforts throughout my career. One focus is to help individuals change their health related behaviors, and the other focus is in helping the community understand that as a society, we collectively carry responsibility for each other’s health.
Selected academic/research activities (last 10 years)
Koizumi, K. Panel session moderator on “Immigrant, Minority Health, Underrepresented Populations and Aging”, at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association(APHA). Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. (Virtual,Mountain Time).
Grossman, K., Groffman, P., Koizumi, K. “ Indigenous Soil and Agroecosystem Knowledge, postcolonial Farmlands in Coacachi, Imbabura, Ecuador.” Interdiscipliary Twitter Poster Session Contest of the Advance Science Research Center, Graduate Center, CUNY, June 24, 2020. https://twitter.com/Katharhy1/status/1275069643850305542/photo/1
Koizumi, K. “Key issues found in the 2018 Survey on the Japanese Elderly living in the Metropolitan NY Area.” Public talk at the Hall of the JAA (Japanese and Japanese American Association of NY, 49 W. 45th St., NYC), Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at 12:30- 2:30pm.
Grossman,K. and Koizumi, K.: “Andes Ethnopedology Knowledge; soil health analysis and societal land intervention.” at the BC Faculty Day poster session, May 16, 2019, SUBO.
Grossman,K. and Koizumi,K.: “Ethnopedology of Indigenous population in Ecuador.” At Brooklyn College Science Retreat, May13, 2019, SUBO.
Koizumi, K. “Home Care and Other Issues of Concern Among the Japanese Elderly living in the Metropolitan NY Area.”. Public talk in the Hall of JAA(Japanese and Japanese American Association of NY), April 13th, 2019, 12noon-2pm.
Katharhy Grossman and Kiyoka Koizumi: “Soil Health: Integral Agroecosystem Management in Andes.” At the New York City Parks GreenThumb, GrowTogether 2019 Conference, CUNY Graduate Center, March31, 2019.
“Custodial care insurance and programs in Japan”, Faculty Day presentation, Brooklyn College, May 20, 2015.
Koizumi, K. “Custodial Care insurance and programs in Japan”, Paper presentation in American Public Health Association(APHA) Annual Conference, New Orleans, Nov.17,2014.
Harris, P., Golden, M.& Koizumi,K. (Feb.20, 2011). Preventing Spina Bifida. E- Letter to the Editor, NY Times
Horlyck-Romanovsky, Margrethe, DrPH
Assistant Professor, Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College
DrPH, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy – 2018 (Community, Society and Health)
My focus as a public health nutrition professional is to promote health and address intra-ethnic health disparities among immigrants and US-born populations. My mixed-methods research examining intra-ethnic risk profile research in New York City, compares risk factors, health behaviors, and disease profiles of African Americans, African-born Blacks, and Afro-Caribbeans. During my postdoc at the NIH, I studied cardiometabolic risk profiles and diabetes prediction algorithms among African-born Blacks. I am well versed in nutritional epidemiology and dietary acculturation, specifically among Afro-Caribbeans and Africans living in New York City.
Horlyck-Romanovsky MF, Haley S. Increasing Obesity Odds Among Foreign-Born New Yorkers are not Explained by Eating Out, Age at Arrival, or Duration of Residence: Results from NYC HANES 2004 and 2013/2014. BMC Public Health 2021, 1453. DOI https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11351-1 (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2021
Horlyck-Romanovsky MF, Huang TT-K, Ahmed R, Echeverria SE, Wyka K, Leung MM, Sumner AE, Fuster M. Intergenerational Differences in Dietary Acculturation among Ghanaian Immigrants Living in New York City: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Nutritional Science. 2021;10:e80. doi:10.1017/jns.2021.69
Khosla L, Bhat S, Fullington LA, Horlyck-Romanovsky MF. HbA1c Performance in African Descent Populations in the United States With Normal Glucose Tolerance, Prediabetes, or Diabetes: A Scoping Review. Prev Chronic Dis 2021;18:200365. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd18.200365
Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 4th Edition. Editor(s): Katz, D., Yeh, M, Levitt, J., Essel, K.D., Joshi, S., Friedman. R.S.C. Wolters Kluwer.
* Horlyck-Romanovsky MF. Chapter 10 Diet and Cerebrovascular and Peripheral Vascular Disease
* Horlyck-Romanovsky MF. Chapter 15 Diet and Respiratory Disease
* Horlyck-Romanovsky MF. Chapter 26 Malnutrition and Cachexia
Hormenu T., Shoup E.M., Osei-Tutu N.H., Hobabagabo A.F., DuBose C.W., Mabundo L.S., Chung S.T., Horlyck-Romanovsky M.F., Sumner A.E. Stress Measured by Allostatic Load is Adversely Affected by Reason for Immigration, Age at Immigration, and Number of Children: the Africans in America Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020;17. https://doi:10.3390/ijerph17124533 (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2020
Mugeni M, Hormenu T, Hobabagabo A, Shoup EM, DuBose CW, Sumner AE, Horlyck-Romanovsky MF. Identifying Africans with Undiagnosed Diabetes: Fasting Plasma Glucose is Equivalent to the Updated Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Diabetes Prediction Equation. Primary Care Diabetes, 2020; February 24. 10.1016/j.pcd.2020.02.007 (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2020
Shoup EM, Hormenu T., Osei-Tutu N.H., Ishimwe M.C.S., Patterson A.C., DuBose C.W., Wentzel A., Horlyck-Romanovsky M.F., Sumner A.E. Africans Who Arrive in the United States before 20 Years of Age Maintain Both Cardiometabolic Health and Cultural Identity: Insight from the Africans in America Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec 15;17(24):9405. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17249405. PMID: 33333954; PMCID: PMC7765413. (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2020
Briker S, Aduwo J, Mugeni R, Horlyck-Romanovsky MF, Dubose C, Mabundo L, Hormenu T, Chung ST, Ha J, Sherman A, Sumner AE. A1C Underperforms as a Diagnostic Test in Africans even in the Absence of Nutritional Deficiencies, Anemia and Hemoglobinopathies: Insight from the Africans in America Study. Front. Endocrinol., 2019;07. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2019.00533 (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2019
Horlyck-Romanovsky MF, Fuster M, Echeverria SE, et al. Black Immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean Have Similar Rates of Diabetes but Africans Are Less Obese: the New York City Community Health Survey 2009-2013. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2019. (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2019
Horlyck-Romanovsky MF, Sumner AE. Treating T2DM by ensuring insulin access is a global challenge. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 2019;15(3):135-137. (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2019
Horlyck-Romanovsky MF, Wyka K, Echeverria SE, Leung MM, Fuster M, Huang TT. Foreign-Born Blacks Experience Lower Odds of Obesity but Higher Odds of Diabetes than US-Born Blacks in New York City. J Immigr Minor Health. 2019;21(1):47-55. (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2019
Mugeni M, Aduwo J, Briker SM, Hormenu T, Sumner AE, Horlyck-Romanovsky MF. A Review of Diabetes Prediction Equations in African Descent Populations. Front. Endocrinol., 2019;10(663). https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2019.00663 (Books and Publications: Article (Peer-reviewed)) 2019
Grants over the last 5 years
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Black Communities: Adapting the PreventT2 Diabetes Prevention Program to the Black Caribbean Community in NYC
Staniczenko, Phillip P.A.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
D.Phil. (Condensed Matter Physics), University of Oxford
My lab develops mathematical and computational techniques for analyzing data produced by complex systems. Typically, the complex systems I study are ecological: insect pollination, pest control, decision-making by subsistence fishers; where I work closely with field ecologists and social scientists to identify the impacts of environmental change on ecosystems and the consequences for local communities. At BCCC-CURE, I collaborate in research teams to find new ways of analyzing cancer-related data at all scales, from the cellular to the social.
My area of expertise is complex networks, which is a mathematical formalism that represents objects (e.g., species) as nodes and interactions between nodes (e.g., feeding, competition) as edges. Although conceptually simple, time and time again, studies of network structure—the pattern of edges among nodes—have led to breakthroughs in understanding the behavior and trajectory of complex systems.
Many aspects of cancer research can be represented as networks. Two of the most promising are protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks and social networks. PPI networks—in which nodes are proteins and edges are complementary binding sites or interfaces—provide a global picture of cellular function and biological processes. Irregularities seen in PPI networks can be indicative of diseases, including cancer. By analyzing the structure of large PPI networks constructed from big data, researchers can identify which cancer-related protein interfaces are candidates for more detailed study.
Social networks document the relationships among individuals (e.g., patients, friends, doctors) and institutions (e.g., hospitals, support groups). Most of these relationships may, on first glance, be considered suitable only for qualitative analysis, but quantitative methods do in fact exist to study, for example, how social relationships might impact cancer-related outcomes. Indeed, combining qualitative and quantitative methods will lead to more reliable answers to questions such as: is a person who has strong and diverse relationships with healthcare providers and support systems more likely to have better health outcomes than individuals with fewer relationships?
Cancer is complex and difficult to understand and treat. Doing so requires methods and expertise from a wide range of disciplines. Please reach out to me if you would like to collaborate.
Losapio, G., Schöb, C., Staniczenko, P.P.A., Carrara, F., Palamara, G.M., De Moraes, C.M., Mescher, M.C., Brooker, R.W., Butterfield, B.J., Callaway, R.M., Cavieres, L.A., Kikvidze, Z., Lortie, C.J., Michalet, R., Pugnaire, F.I. & Bascompte, J. (2021). Network motifs involving both competition and facilitation predict biodiversity in alpine plant communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 118, e2005759118. https://www.pnas.org/content/118/6/e2005759118
Timm, C.M., Loomis, K., Stone, W., Mehoke, T., Brensinger, B., Pellicore, M., Staniczenko, P.P.A., Charles, C., Nayak, S. & Karig, D. (2020). Isolation and characterization of diverse microbial representatives from the human skin microbiome. Microbiome, 8, 58. https://microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-020-00831-y
Alexander*, S.M., Staniczenko*, P.P.A. & Bodin, Ö. (2020). *Joint first authors. Social ties explain catch portfolios of small-scale fishers in the Caribbean. Fish & Fisheries, 21, 120–131. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/faf.12421
Baldock, K.C.R., Goddard, M.A., Hicks, D.M., Kunin, W.E., Mitschunas, N., Morse, H., Osgathorpe, L.M., Potts, S.G., Robertson, K.M., Scott, A.V., Staniczenko, P.P.A., Stone, G.N., Vaughan, I.P. & Memmott, J. (2019). A systems approach reveals urban pollinator hotspots and conservation opportunities. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3, 363–373. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0769-y
Staniczenko, P.P.A., Kopp, J.C. & Allesina, S. (2013). The ghost of nestedness in ecological networks. Nature Communications, 4, 1931. https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2422
Grants over the last 5 years
P.P.A. Staniczenko, PI. Faculty Fellowship Publication Program (FFPP) award, “Reckless Ideas in Ecological Networks,” $4k (2020–2021).
P.P.A. Staniczenko, PI. Santa Fe Institute Working Group, “Next-generation ecological network theory and application,” $20k (2018).
P.P.A. Staniczenko, PI. National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) Research Fellowship, “Predicting the effect of socioeconomic and environmental change on the structure of biotic interactions and the provision of ecosystem services,” $215k (2016–2018).
Associate Professor, Psychology Department, Brooklyn College, City University of New York
Ph.D., Clinical and School Psychology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
My research focuses on the assessment, interplay, and treatment of comorbid emotional and physical health conditions (e.g., cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma). My long term goal is to enhance early identification of medical patients who are at increased risk for comorbid problems and worsen disease adjustment; elucidating the dynamic interplay between psychological and disease processes (e.g., inflammation); developing empirically validated, multidisciplinary treatments targeting both illness-specific and general psychiatric symptoms; and elucidate factors that promote resilience and posttraumatic growth.
Polokowski, A.R., Shakil, H., Carmichael, C.L., & Reigada, L.C. (2018). Omega-3 fatty acids and anxiety: A systematic review of the possible mechanisms at play. Nutritional Neuroscience, 43(4), 413-422.
Reigada, L.C., Moore, M. T., Martin, C. F., & Kappelman, M.D. (2018). Psychometric evaluation of the IBD-Specific Anxiety Scale: A novel measure of disease-related anxiety for adolescents with IBD. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 43(4), 413-422.
Bruzzese, J.M., Reigada, L. C., Fiorini, E. K., Wang, J., & Petkova, E. (2016). Association of youth and caregiver anxiety and asthma care among urban young adolescents. Academy of Pediatrics, 6(8), 792-798.
Reigada, L.C., Satpute, A., Hoogendoorn, C., J., Cohen, B. H., Bao, R., Lai, J., Benkov, K. J. (2016). Evidence for anxiety as a predictor of hospital-based gastrointestinal interventions in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, 22(9), 2127-2133.
Reigada, L. C., Polokowski, A., Walder, D., Szigethy, E., Benkov, K. J., Bruzzese, J., & Masia Warner, C. (2015). Treatment for Comorbid Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Anxiety Disorders: A Pilot Study of a Flexible Health Sensitive CBT Program. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 3(4), 134-326.
Reigada, L.C., Hoogendoorn, C., Walsch, L. C., Lai, J., Szigethy, E., Boa, K., & Benkov, K. J. (2015). Cross-sectional analysis of anxiety symptoms and disease severity in children and adolescents with Crohn’s disease. Pediatric Journal of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 60(1), 30-35.
Grants over the last 5 years:
Schwab Charitable Polokowski & Reigada (Co-PIs) 2017-2019
Project Title: Diet, inflammation, gut microbiome and mental health. This study aims to examine the potential efficacy of a 12-week intervention of omega-3 supplementation, probiotic, or a combination of omega-3 and probiotic to reduce anxiety, depressive, and stress symptoms via the alteration of gut flora and inflammatory markers, compared to a placebo condition.
Role on Project: Co-PI
Professional Staff Congress-CUNY Reigada (PI) 2017-2018
Project Title: Precision medicine: Mixed-method, multi-stakeholder development of assessment tools for adolescents with chronic illness. This study developed and pilot tested a biopsychosocial risk assessment tool for adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for use in pediatric medical settings.
Role on Project: PI
Assistant Professor, Department of Computer and Information Science, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
Ph.D. (Computer Science) NYU School of Engineering, USA
One of my areas of research focuses on reducing the prediction costs of machine learning classifiers. Our work focuses on application areas where there is a preference for simple and interpretable classifiers, and where it is important to be able to evaluate those classifiers cheaply. A prime example is medical diagnosis, where doctors seek diagnosis rules that are easily interpretable, and whose predictions can be explained to patients. Since diagnoses typically are based on the results of medical tests, which are expensive, reducing prediction cost is important. Our work focuses on a number of simple classification classes (for example, symmetric functions, monotone DNF and CNF, linear threshold functions), in adaptive and non-adaptive settings. Our goal is to give algorithms that output an ordering of the tests to be performed that is within a tight factor of the optimal ordering in terms of the cost of diagnosis.
Gkenosis, Dimitrios, Nathaniel Grammel, Lisa Hellerstein, and Devorah Kletenik. “The stochastic score classification problem.” In 26th European Symposium on Algorithms, ESA 2018. Schloss Dagstuhl-Leibniz-Zentrum fur Informatik GmbH, Dagstuhl Publishing, 2018.
Bach, Eric, Jérémie Dusart, Lisa Hellerstein, and Devorah Kletenik. “Submodular goal value of boolean functions.” Discrete Applied Mathematics 238 (2018): 1-13.
Allen, Sarah R., Lisa Hellerstein, Devorah Kletenik, and Tonguç Ünlüyurt. “Evaluation of monotone DNF formulas.” Algorithmica 77, no. 3 (2017): 661-685.
Deshpande, Amol, Lisa Hellerstein, and Devorah Kletenik. “Approximation algorithms for stochastic submodular set cover with applications to boolean function evaluation and min-knapsack.” ACM Transactions on Algorithms (TALG) 12, no. 3 (2016): 1-28.
Grammel, N., Hellerstein, L., Kletenik, D., & Lin, P. (2016, August). Scenario submodular cover. In International Workshop on Approximation and Online Algorithms (pp. 116-128). Springer, Cham.
D. Kletenik, co-PI.
D. Kletenik, PI
Carmichael, Cheryl L.
Associate Professor, Psychology Department, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
Ph.D. (Social-Personality Psychology), University of Rochester, Rochester NY
I study close relationship processes. My research examines the psychological, physiological, and behavioral underpinnings of the association between close relationship quality and health and well-being outcomes. I use attachment theory and perceived partner responsiveness as frameworks that guide my research questions, and I use a combination of experimental and daily diary research methods. I have conducted research on how the quantity and quality of early adulthood social connections predicts emotional well-being in midlife, how physical contact between romantic partners benefits relationship quality, how support that is not consciously perceived by a partner can be beneficial to the self and the relationship, and how the quality of received support for positive events contributes to personal and relational well-being. My research can be applied to understanding how social experiences contribute to quality of life for cancer patients, their caregivers, and additional close others.
Carmichael, C.L., Goldberg, M.H., & Coyle, M. (2021). Security based differences in touch behavior and its benefits. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12 (4), 550-560. doi: 10.1177/1948550620929164
Joel, S., Eastwick, P.W., Allison, C., Arriaga, X.B., Baker, Z.G., Bar-Kalifa, E., Bergeron, S., Brock, B., Brumbaugh, C.C.,Carmichael, C.L., Chen, S., Clarke, J., Cobb, R.J., Coolsen, M.K., Davis, J., de Jong, D.C., Debrot, A., Derrick, J.L., Eller, J., Estrada, M.J., Faure, R., Finkel, E.J., Fraley, R.C., Gable, S.L., Gadassi, R., Girme, Y.U., Gordon, A.M., Gosnell, C., Hammond, M.D., Hannon, P.A., Harasymchuk, C., Horn, A.B., Impett, E.A., Jamieson, J.P., Kim, J., Kirchner, J.L., Kluwer, E., Kuile T., Kumashiro, M., Larson, G., Lazarus, G., Logan, J.M., Luchies, L., MacDonald, G., Maniaci, M.R., Maxwell, J.A., Mizrahi, M., Molloy, P.R., Muise, A., Niehuis, S., Ogolsky, B.G., Oldham, C.R., Overall, N.C., Perrez, M., Peters, B., Pietromonaco, P.R., Powers, S.I., Prok, T., Pschedetzky-Schochat, R., Rafaeli, E., Reblin, M., Reifman, A., Reiherts, M., Reis, H., Rhoades, G., Rholes, S., Righetti, F., Rodriguez, L., Rosen, N., Saxbe, D., Sened, H., Simpson, J., Slotter, E.B., Stanley, S., Stocker, S., Surra, C., VanderDrift, L., Vaughn, A., Vicary, A., Visserman, M., & Wolf, S. (2020). Machine learning uncovers the most robust self-report predictors of relationship quality across 43 longitudinal couples’ studies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (32), 19061-19071. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1917036117
Carmichael, C.L., Goldberg, M.H., & Coyle, M. (in press). Security based differences in touch behavior and its benefits. Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Joel, S., Eastwick, P.W., Allison, C., Arriaga, X.B., Baker, Z.G., Bar-Kalifa, E., Bergeron, S., Brock, B., Brumbaugh, C.C., Carmichael, C.L., Chen, S., Clarke, J., Cobb, R.J., Coolsen, M.K., Davis, J., de Jong, D.C., Debrot, A., Derrick, J.L., Eller, J., Estrada, M.J., Faure, R., Finkel, E.J., Fraley, R.C., Gable, S.L., Gadassi, R., Girme, Y.U., Gordon, A.M., Gosnell, C., Hammond, M.D., Hannon, P.A., Harasymchuk, C., Horn, A.B., Impett, E.A., Jamieson, J.P., Kim, J., Kirchner, J.L., Kluwer, E., Kuile T., Kumashiro, M., Larson, G., Lazarus, G., Logan, J.M., Luchies, L., MacDonald, G., Maniaci, M.R., Maxwell, J.A., Mizrahi, M., Molloy, P.R., Muise, A., Niehuis, S., Ogolsky, B.G., Oldham, C.R., Overall, N.C., Perrez, M., Peters, B., Pietromonaco, P.R., Powers, S.I., Prok, T., Pschedetzky-Schochat, R., Rafaeli, E., Reblin, M., Reifman, A., Reiherts, M., Reis, H., Rhoades, G., Rholes, S., Righetti, F., Rodriguez, L., Rosen, N., Saxbe, D., Sened, H., Simpson, J., Slotter, E.B., Stanley, S., Stocker, S., Surra, C., VanderDrift, L., Vaughn, A., Vicary, A., Visserman, M., & Wolf, S. (in press). Machine learning uncovers the most robust self- report predictors of relationship quality across 43 longitudinal couples’ studies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Coyle, M.A., & Carmichael, C.L. (2019). Perceived responsiveness in text messaging; The role of emoji. Computers in Human Behavior, 99, 181-189. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2019.05.023
Reis, H.T., Crasta, D., Rogge, R.D., Maniaci, M.R., & Carmichael, C.L. (2018). Perceived partner responsiveness scale. In D.L. Worthington & G.D. Bodie (Eds.), The Sourcebook of Listening Research: Methodology and Measures (pp. 516-521). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Carmichael, C.L., Duberstein, P.R., & Reis, H.T. (2015). In your 20s it’s quantity, in your 30s it’s quality: The prognostic value of social activity across 30 years of adulthood. Psychology and Aging, 30, 95-105. doi: 10.1037/pag0000014
Grants over the last 5 years:
C. Carmichael, PI
Professor, Biology Department, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
Ph.D. (Zoology) University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
My focus on the Cancer center comes from my experience as a breast-cancer survivor. I benefited from state-of-the art clinical trials for Herceptin after my diagnosis with an aggressive form of the disease, prevalent in younger women. Since 2004 I have been heavily involved in both outreach and advocacy and bring that experience and energy to the Center.
My central interest is the evolution of behavioral and brain complexity, specifically learning and memory. Why do some lineages show a heavy investment in brains while others do not? We focus on the Cephalopod Molluscs because they have the largest brains of invertebrates (allometrically scaling with vertebrates), show complex behaviors, and importantly have a living representative of the ancestral condition: the Chambered Nautilus. My research focuses on changes in learning and memory capabilities over the course of invertebrate evolution, and the origin and function of supporting neural and sensory systems in species with large brains. I often perform comparative work among octopuses, cuttlefishes and Nautilus to determine what features of brains and behavior are analogous and which are homologous.
Another critical component of my research is to determine how the environment and evolution have shaped the learning and memory capabilities of animals that primarily rely upon nonvisual information to make navigation decisions. My two model systems are the Chambered Nautilus (for the sense of smell) and the freshwater crayfish, Procambarus clarkii (for the sense of touch). I focus on what kinds of sensory information animals collect from their environment, what they remember of that information and for how long, and how they then use that information to make important orientation decisions.
We pursue three interrelated lines of research in my laboratory. First, we investigate learning and memory capabilities in nautilids, a monophyletic group in the cephalopod molluscs that retains many pleisiomorphic features. Comparative study of the complex behavior across all cephalopods may help us to understand the evolution of neural and behavioral complexity in the entire class. We have found evidence of convergence between cephalopod brains and vertebrate brains, despite vast differences in the components comprising the brain (neurons, axons). We pursue studies of Pavlovian conditioning, spatial navigation, tactile learning, chemical learning, and chemical signaling in intraspecific behavior, while also attempting to identify the compounds involved. Second, we investigate the neural underpinnings of these complex behaviors: where does this learning take place, identifying analogous and/or homologous learning centers in cephalopods, labeling of neuronal activity during conditioning, whole-brain recordings, and neuroanatomy and neurochemistry (in collaboration with Dr. Binyamin Hochner, Hebrew University). Third, we use crayfishes as a model for the haptic sense, or guided tactile behavior. Here we pair classical conditioning and open-field methods to measure haptic contributions to learning and memory of the environment in a relatively “simple” neuroanatomical model. These algorithms are then implemented in “Craybot” a tactile robot in development with Tony Prescott’s laboratory at the University of Sheffield.