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Research Summary

For many, social behavior comes easily: most know how to respond to social cues in a variety of settings and barely have to think about it. For those with social disorders like Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), however, knowing how to act in different social environments is extremely difficult if not impossible. My research proposal aims to establish a highly social cichlid fish called Astatotilapia burtoni as a model organism for understanding social disorders like ASD. A. burtoni have an uncanny ability at figuring out where they rank in a social hierarchy, providing a unique opportunity to determine the genes and cells that control normal social behavior. My research may yield important insights into how our brains are able to successfully navigate social environments, leading to novel hypotheses for what causes social disorders like ASD.

Research Title:

Identifying molecular mechanisms that regulate social status

Award Year: 2017
Institution at Time of Award: Stanford University
Faculty Mentor: Russell D. Fernald
Research Title:

Discovering molecular and neural mechanisms of social behavior

Award Year: 2021
Institution at Time of Award: University of Houston