Florian Engert and Lichtman Lab
I am a postdoc in the laboratories of Jeff Lichtman and Florian Engert where I am studying the nervous system of Hydra. More specifically, I am interested in scalability, defined here as the ability of its nervous system to change size while keeping its functions intact. Indeed, in Hydra the same individual can reversibly and repeatably grow and shrink by up to an order of magnitude. These animals are freshwater invertebrates that usually live in ponds and rivers but can be easily cultured and observed in a laboratory environment. They have been used for biological research for almost 300 years and contributed to many scientific discoveries.
As an undergraduate student I majored in Neuroengineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), before moving to Rockefeller University where I did my master's thesis (Pfaff Lab) and worked as a research assistant (Greengard Lab) for a couple of years. I then joined the Neurobiology and Behavior PhD program at Columbia University where I did my thesis work in the laboratory of Rafael Yuste. I have also taken the Grass Fellowship program in 2016 and served as the Associate Director of this program during the summers of 2019 and 2020. What brought me to the Lichtman and Engert labs is my drive to study the relationship between structure and function in the nervous system, and how this relationship is preserved in spite of the substantial changes that can occur in an animal size.