Neuronal Microcircuit Multi-curvature micropatterns unveil distinct calcium and mitochondrial dynamics in neuronal networks (pdf)

Much of my undergraduate work revolved around designing and fabricating devices to observe neuronal growth and communication. Particularly looking at how perturbations in various physical topographies effect calcium communication. So why start there? To begin, we need to first take a look at how the human brain develops and changes over time. It is no means a flat plane, rather the neocortex is filled with these "hills and valleys". Biological evolution has allowed our brains to attain a very large volume relative to surface area. If we can model the finer topographical structures in the human cortex on a petri dish, then it stands that we can learn some of the factors that play a role in the morphology of cellular communication and subnetworks.

In hindsight I realize that much of my journey started off as any other researcher: absolute perplexity. Given the fact that I was several decades behind current neuroengineering methods, I had a lot of catching up to do. Eventually I settled on rerunning a couple of old experiments on agarose hydrogel. I later figured out that agarose was very straightforward to implement in cell culture systems. Given its thermo-responsive nature, it was also relatively easy to fabricate and best of all biocompatible. I designed a high-throughput cell assay that allowed neurons to growth within their own confined curvatures using agarose hydrogels as a means of fabrication. This was when the project took off and the results that we obtained describes the correlation of neurite maturation, calcium and mitochondrial dynamics better than we had any right to expect.
Neuronal Microcircuit

Currently, I'm focusing on understanding how behavior, perception, and action is dictated within neuronal circuits. Action potentials are the unit currency in which our neurons communicate, although there are a myriad of other processes that influence the eventual transfer of information, a single spike from a neuron can create a cascading impact throughout the population, leading to some perceptive output. How this dynamic plays out, is one of the questions I am currently chasing after.