I’m an assistant professor at the department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Cornell University, and a visiting scientist at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. I’m also an HHMI Freeman Hrabowski Scholar. The goal of my research program is to understand how visual circuits in the brain meet the specialized behavioral demands of different animals. In other words, I want to understand how humans and other animals experience the world through their visual sense. This is as big a task as it sounds, and getting there requires a lot of scientists with different approaches and pet theories. I am partial to theories of embodied cognition, which just means that our perceptions are created through an interaction of the body with the brain. The implication of this very reasonable theory is somewhat scandelous: studying the brain, even with the best resolution and technology, will never be enough. This is because brain activity alone doesn’t generate our perceptions, brain activity combined with bodily actions does. So to understand perception, and cognition in general, we have to study the brain and body together - as a single unified, inseperable, system. A second implication is that studying multiple different types of animals, with very different bodies, might be really helpful in understanding the brain/body system.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve worked on establishing the tree shrew as a model of the visual system, though I’ve also studied the visual experience of mice, cats, and ferrets.

I’m hiring at all levels and looking for people who are excited about a team-based approach to understanding the visual system in the context of the moving body it lives in.