Sarah Farris
Faculty & Research
Sarah M. Farris

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. 2000, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Development and evolution of brain and behavior.

How do changes in development allow the evolution of novel brain structures? How do these structures translate into adaptive behaviors? Research in my laboratory is attempting to shed light on these questions. The mushroom bodies, sensory integration and learning and memory centers in the brains of insects, are an excellent model system for comparative studies of the connection between development, structure and function during brain evolution. Mushroom body morphology varies widely across different insect species, reflecting the equally diverse array of behaviors and life histories found in insects. We can take advantage of this diversity to identify features of mushroom body structure that are important for particular behaviors, and how these features arise during development.

Due to the range of disciplines covered by these research interests, my laboratory is currently engaged in projects ranging from the characterization of cellular processes in development to the quantification of brain structures to identifying ecological correlates of mushroom body organization. Future projects will also include behavioral assays and identifying the genetic bases of the evolution of mushroom body development.

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