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Student Research

Student in the News

Adam Deardorff presents at international motoneuron meeting

An M.D./Ph.D. student is providing invaluable research that will eventually help doctors better treat a variety of conditions, including spinal cord injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, vascular and kidney disorders, autoimmune disease and diabetes. At an International Motoneuron Meeting held in Australia, Adam Deardorff was recognized by leading scientists from around the world for giving the best oral presentation by a student.

Adam Deardorff

Adam Deardorff, M.D./Ph.D. candidate

Mentor: Robert E.W. Fyffe, Ph.D.
Professor of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology
Research Interests

My research interests focus on examining the effects of damage and/or dysfunction in the peripheral nervous system on synaptic function and neuronal membrane properties in brain and spinal cord neurons. Using a combination of electrophysiology and quantitative confocal microscopy, my experiments concentrate on the electrical properties of the neurons and related expression patterns of highly regulated pre- and post-synaptic ion channels and synaptic proteins in spinal sensorimotor and brainstem auditory circuitry. I work primarily in the NIH-funded laboratories of Dr. Robert E.W. Fyffe and Dr. Timothy C. Cope and collaborate extensively with Dr. Bruce Walmsley’s group at The Australian National University in Canberra, as well as with various colleagues in the WSU-PHP Neuroscience Institute. I have presented my work at a number of regional, national and international symposia.


Kerry Hart

Kerry Hart, M.S., 2013 graduate

Mentor: Timothy C. Cope, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology
Research Interests

My research involves studying the kinematic development of movement before and after spinal cord injury. We carefully measure all aspects of hindlimb movement during level walking in order to characterize the normal function of so called central pattern generators located in the spinal cord. After spinal injury we carefully measure the initial deficits in walking as well as the nature of their recovery. Combining data retrieved from direct observations of the nervous system during both injury and recovery with the temporal trajectory of behavioral recovery gives us powerful insight into the nature of motor control and which underlying mechanisms are necessary to perform basic behaviors.


Andrew Koesters

Andrew Koesters, Ph.D. candidate

Mentor: Kathrin Engisch, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology
Research Interests

The nervous system is faced with perturbations in activity levels throughout development and in disease or injury states.  Neurons need to be plastic to adapt to these changes in activity, but also need to maintain circuit firing within a normal range to stabilize the network from becoming too excited or too depressed. Homeostatic synaptic plasticity, the compensatory increase or decrease in synaptic strength as a result of excessive circuit inhibition or excitation, is a mechanism that the nervous system utilizes to stabilize network activity by maintaining neuronal firing within normal levels. My research focuses on the role of the synaptic vesicle protein, Rab3A, in homeostatic synaptic plasticity. Rab3A is a small GTPase that binds synaptic vesicles by switching between its active GTP-bound form and its inactive GDP-bound, and is thought to play a role in vesicle trafficking for exocytosis. I currently work in the laboratory of Kathrin Engisch, Ph.D., where we employ a combination of tissue culture of cortical neurons, whole-cell voltage clamp, and immunohistochemical techniques to investigate how knocking-out or mutating Rab3A affects homeostatic synaptic plasticity in central synapses.


Student in the News

Spinal cord circuit that controls body movement focus of research

Ph.D. student Ahmed Obeidat is among the research stars at the Neuroscience Institute. Obeidat is studying a spinal cord circuit involved in controlling body movement. His goal is to increase or restore movement to victims who suffer paralysis from combat, traffic accidents or other trauma by chemically manipulating the smaller circuits in the spinal cord. "We are very close to discovering the function of that circuit," Obeidat said.

Ahmed Obeidat

Ahmed Obeidat, Ph.D. candidate

Mentor: Timothy C. Cope, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology
Research Interests

Trained as a physician in Jordan, my passion for research brought me to Wright State to pursue my PhD. My research interests focus around the circuit of recurrent inhibition aka Renshaw inhibition. This simple yet so intricate spinal cord circuit is thought to play vital roles in the mammalian motor behavior. However, its exact function is pending discovery. Using pure and classical electrophysiology, my experiments aim to unravel the function of this circuit in addition to examining its plasticity following peripheral nerve injury and regeneration. The hope is to improve functional deficits observed clinically. I work in the NIH-funded laboratory of Dr. Timothy C. Cope, where collaborative and superb environment promote student excellence.


Martha Sonner

Martha Sonner, M.S. candidate

Mentor: David R. Ladle, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor or Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology
Research Interests

My research interests are in discerning the degree of stereotyped anatomical organization of proprioceptors, namely muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs, in skeletal muscles during development. To accomplish this we are utilizing two-photon microscopy to plot the location of these receptors and their respective innervation within intact skeletal muscles in three dimensions. This knowledge will help lay a foundation for future studies investigating peripheral neuropathy resulting from complications associated with diseases such as diabetes as well as medical interventions such as chemotherapy.


Jacob Vincent

Jacob Vincent, M.D./Ph.D. candidate

Mentor: Timothy C. Cope, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology
Research Interests

My research interests focus on sensorimotor integration in the mammalian peripheral nervous system. Specifically, I investigate proprioceptive circuits that provide crucial feedback about muscle length and force to the brain and spinal cord. Using predominately electrophysiological techniques and in-vivo pharmacology, my experiments focus on how circuit dysregulation following nerve injury and/or chemotherapeutic treatment affects proprioceptive feedback and, ultimately the generation and modulation of coordinated movement. I work in the NIH-funded laboratory of Dr. Timothy C. Cope, where I will complete the Ph.D. portion of my M.D./Ph.D.