Morgan Newhoff - Ph.D. Candidate
BA (Anthropology), New York University
As student in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, my focus is on the nervous system. I study how and why ultrasound alters the firing rates of the large and robust neurons of the medicinal leech. Leech neurons have the same basic physiology as mammalian neurons; my hope is that my project provides insights into how ultrasound could be used therapeutically to treat human neurological disorders characterized by aberrant neuronal firing, including epilepsy and chronic pain.
Having previously worked on models with more “complex” nervous systems (including humans!), I was struck by the relative tractability of invertebrate models. These systems offer tremendous flexibility in terms of experimental design; working on invertebrates has enabled me to gain experience with many more techniques than would otherwise be possible, and has made me a more creative and versatile researcher.
Why University of Minnesota?
I sought a large graduate program with broad faculty expertise and intensive coursework requirements to help me build a strong foundation of neuroscience knowledge. The latter was particularly important, as my undergraduate degree was in an unrelated field. UMN fit the bill, and it came with the upside of living in the wonderful Twin-Cities area. My favorite thing about the U is its friendly atmosphere. It fosters collaboration and creates a positive environment for conducting research.
Dung beetles. They navigate by starlight, how cool is that?!
I am learning to oil paint in the style of the Old Masters. It’s a great respite from the occasional stresses of graduate school, and improving my dexterity benefits my dissections!
Coffee or tea?