Sarah D. Ackerman, PhD

2021 K99/R00 Awardee
Photo of Sarah D. Ackerman, 2021 BRAIN K99/R00 Awardee
University of Oregon
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Sarah D. Ackerman is a postdoctoral fellow in the HHMI lab of Dr. Chris Doe at the University of Oregon. Dr. Ackerman graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish from The College of New Jersey, where she used C. elegans to study germ line development. This work inspired her interest in genetics and led her to pursue a doctoral degree in Molecular Genetics and Genomics at Washington University School of Medicine. Under the guidance of Dr. Kelly Monk, she used forward and reverse genetics strategies in zebrafish and mouse to define molecular regulators of myelinating glial cell development. As a postdoc, she transitioned to Drosophila to continue to investigate how glial cells instruct nervous system formation and function. Specifically, Dr. Ackerman uses reverse genetics, optogenetics, live imaging, and high throughput behavior analyses to define how astrocytes shape plasticity in the developing motor circuit, and in turn, locomotor behavior. Her BRAIN Initiative K99 project extends this work into zebrafish as a complementary model system to identify the conserved cellular and molecular mechanisms that instruct developmental and pathological motor circuit plasticity.


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