Research Overview

We study neural circuit functions at the molecular and cellular levels. Specifically, we are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms by which insulin (a satiety hormone) signaling affects a neuron’s function in the olfactory circuit of the fruit fly larva. A related interest is understanding how an insect’s hunger state modifies its decision-making as it navigates toward odors. We address these questions using a combination of behavior, molecular, optogenetic, microscopic, and bioinformatic techniques.

At a basic science level, this research will help us understand how flexibility and adaptability to a hunger state are enforced in neurons of the olfactory circuit. However, at a practical level, it may also ultimately contribute to our understanding of decision-making and movement disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s disease) in humans. Finally, many insect pests that transmit diseases to millions of people each year rely on their olfactory systems to navigate toward their human hosts. Since our research examines how the modulation of an insect’s olfactory circuit shapes its navigational decisions, it could inspire new strategies to manipulate these circuit mechanisms to help manage insect vectors of disease.

Select Publications

  • Odell S, Zito N, Clark D, and Mathew D. “Stability of olfactory behavior syndromes in the Drosophila larva,” (2023) Scientific Reports 13: 2398.
  • Odell SR, Clark D, Zito N, Jain R, Gong H, Warnock K, Carrion-Lopez R, Maixner C, Prieto-Godino L, Mathew D. “Internal state affects local neuron function in an early processing center to shape olfactory behavior in Drosophila larvae,” (2022) Scientific Reports 12 (1): 15767.
  • Mathew D. Loss of smell in COVID-19 patients: Lessons and opportunities (2020) Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 14:598465
  • Slankster E, Kollala S, Baria D, Dailey-Krempel B, Jain R, Odell SR and Mathew D.Mechanism underlying starvation-dependent modulation of olfactory behavior in Drosophila (2020) Scientific Reports 10(1):3119.
  • Young BA, Escanlon J, and Mathew D.Odors: from chemical structures to gaseous plumes. (2020) Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 111: 19-29
  • Slankster E, Odell SR, Mathew D Strength in diversity: functional diversity among olfactory neurons of the same type. Journal of bioenergetics and biomembranes 51(1):65-75. (2019)
  • Clark DA, Odell SR, Armstrong JM, Turcotte M, Kohler D, Mathis A, Schmidt DR, Mathew D. Behavior responses to chemical and optogenetic stimuli in Drosophila Larvae. (2018) Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience 12:324.