Hi! Welcome to my website.
I am the Interim Dean of the Graduate College at Western Michigan University, where I provide leadership and support for a number of initiatives aimed at facilitating graduate student success.
I am also a full professor of Biological Sciences and a neuroscientist who studies the ability of the adult brain to recover from damage and disease, using the zebrafish olfactory system as a model.
Latest News from the Byrd Lab
Recent Publications and Presentations
Jackson Scheib successfully defended his master's thesis and will graduate June 29. Then he is off to a PhD program at the University of Minnesota. We will miss him!
Congratulations to Mamoon Ali for being selected to give an oral presentation at the Kalamazoo Community Medical Research Day!
My lab had 5 posters at the 2019 Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting! Byrd-Lab represent!
Congratulations to Mariam Husain for successfully defending her honor's thesis!
I'm lucky to have worked with these amazing students!
Dr. Erika Calvo-Ochoa, postdoc
Susanne Var, PhD student
Tara Maser, PhD student
Jackson Scheib, Master's student
Mamoon Ali, Master's student
Morgan Brown, undergraduate
Mariam Husain, undergraduate
Michelle Morales, undergraduate
MY CURRENT AREAS OF RESEARCH IN CELLULAR NEUROBIOLOGY
My research explores the potential of the adult brain to recover from damage, using methods that reduce sensory input to the olfactory part of the brain, the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb exhibits a high degree of plasticity naturally and has tremendous potential for recovery from loss of input and other forms of damage. The zebrafish is a good model system for our studies because teleosts have well established regeneration abilities. A better understanding of the degenerative and regenerative responses of the adult brain is important in clinical applications for recovery from injury and disease.
Areas we are currently investigating include the following:
How does the olfactory organ affect the maintenance of the structure and function of the olfactory bulb in adults? Using permanent or reversible deafferentation methods, we remove or decrease sensory input to the brain and examine resulting changes in brain structure and function. Recent efforts include examining changes in dendritic structure of mitral cells and alterations in neurogenesis patterns.
Does the immune response to neuronal damage hinder or help regeneration of adult brain structures? Examining the microglia of the olfactory bulb allows us to explore their role in neural plasticity. Microglia respond to damage and release a number of factors, and we are exploring these to determine if the microglial response facilitates regeneration or prevents it.
Are some olfactory sensory neuron subtypes in the olfacory organ more susceptible to damage and others more resistant? Following exposure to various chemicals, some cells in the nose die and others are spared, suggesting that there are differential effects on sensory neuron subtypes. This line of research relates to neuroprotection as well as the ability of fish to survive in polluted waters.