Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2010
Home Department: Neurosciences, MSTP
Faculty Advisors: Thomas Clandinin (Neurobiology) and Surya Ganguli (Applied Physics)

Research Title: Functional imaging in the visual system of Drosophila melanogaster

Research Description: Jonathan is using functional imaging in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to study sensory neuronal processing, specifically the initial computations that underlie the visual detection of motion. The genetic tractability and relative anatomical simplicity of Drosophila present a unique experimental opportunity to probe the functional contribution of individual neuron types to specific computations instantiated in the brain. Importantly, like humans, Drosophila assess the visual periphery in highly sophisticated ways and use vision to guide their behavior, such as locomotion. A functional characterization of the early visual system in Drosophila may reveal not only the computational primitives of a highly evolved visual system but also novel interactions, governed by neuronal circuits, between sensory processing and behavior.


After earning his doctorate for his fellowship work characterizing the visual system of Drosophila, Jonathan was pursuing an internship in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which was to be followed by a residency in radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Jonathan remained tirelessly dedicated to his patients even as his health declined. He was an inspirational and devoted physician-scientist.