Overview of our Research
We apply a multifaceted approach to better understand how the central nervous system forms during development.
Our primary focus is on oligodendrocyte-axon interactions. The image at left shows a single spinal cord oligodendrocyte forming numerous myelin sheaths.
We apply genetics to learn how myelin sheaths are formed & stabilized. The image at left shows accumulation of axonal vesicles (white) at ensheathment sites (yellow arrowheads). We utilize transgenisis and DNA plasmid injection into fertilized eggs in order to genetically manipulate subsets of neurons or glia.
Use of transgenic zebrafish embryos enables us to test hypotheses both in vitro and in vivo.
Click here for a recent article published in Nature Neuroscience.
The Neural Development Lab is housed within the Department of Biology and College of Science & Engineering at Winona, State University.
Dec 2019. Congratulations to John Henke! John graduated with a degree in Cell and Molecular Biology and was named the Outstanding Graduate in Biology.
Oct 2019. Congrats Taylor Hobbs for being awarded a WSU student research grant.
Oct 2019. Our first bioRxiv pre-print is posted. "Individual neuronal subtypes control initial myelin sheath growth and stabilization". Click here.
Society for Neuroscience
Katrina Pfaffenbach and Taylor Hobbs present their poster "Development of methods to assess exploratory behavior of pre-myelinating oligodendrocytes in vivo" at the Faculty or Undergraduate Neuroscience poster session.
Heather Nelson presents "Axon determination of subtype specific myelin ensheathment and pruning" at the SFN Central and Peripheral Myelinating Cells session.
James Gronseth and John Henke present "Regulation of oligodendrocyte exploratory behavior and sampling of axons by neural activity" at the SFN Central and Peripheral Myelinating Cells" session.
August 2019. Last day of summer research.
James, Katrina, and Taylor put the finishing touches on their summer projects, and look forward to preparing posters for the 2019 Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago this October.
May 2019. Students Katrina Pfaffenbach, Taylor Hobbs, and James Gronseth started their summer internships in the lab.
May 2019. Welcome Heather Nelson (WSU Cell and Molecular Biology Class of '17). Heather began her position as research analyst in the lab.
April 2019. Emily Menges featured in the Winona Post! Emily, Taryn Mallon, and James Gronseth presented their research in poster format at the Winona Health Research Fair.
April 2019. As we wrap up final data analysis and progress reports for the National MS Society funded project, happy to officially announce that we received 5 years of funding from the National Science Foundation (CAREER) to study mechanisms of adaptive myelination. Honored and excited to continue this project. This would never be possible without the hard work and investment by currrent and former lab members, as well as support from the MS Society, WSU Biology Department, College of Science and Engineering, and WSU Foundation.
Nick accepted admission to the Physician Assistant Program at Augsburg University (starts May '19, Class of 2021)
lab alum (2017)
Feb 2019. Congratulations John Henke! John received multiple summer pre-medical internship / research offers and will be the 2019 Arnold Fenske intern at Winona Health.
Emily received multiple offers for Doctorate of Physical Therapy programs and will attend University of Iowa.
Jan. 2019. Summer Undergraduate Research Positions. Students interested in positions in the WSU Neural Development Lab click here. Students interested in other neuroscience-related positions click here. Click here for a broad overview/collection of summer opportunities.
Dec. 2018. Taryn Mallon, Emily Menges, James Gronseth, and John Henke presented their research findings at the 2018 American Society for Cell Biology - European Molecular Biology Organization Annual Meeting (ASCB-EMBO) in San Diego, CA.
Oct. 2018. Congratulations to A.J. Treichel, WSU '17, a new published author! Part of A.J.'s undergraduate work was officially published in the journal Zebrafish. Click here.
Oct. 2018. A new paper on oligodendrocyte development (click here) led by Bruce Appel and Andy Ravanelli, published in Developmental Biology. Click here.
Oct 2018. 2018 ASCB-EMBO
Both teams - Taryn Mallon and James Gronseth, and Emily Menges and John Henke - submitted abstracts that were formally accepted for the annual society for cell biology / molecular biology conference.
Lab alumnus Maddy Martell started medical school at the Medical School of Wisconsin.
Lab alumnus Malory Owens started dental school at the University of Minnesota.
April 2018. Congrats to lab alumni Scott Steele for accepting a graduate position at Brock University in Ontario.
May 2018. Taryn Mallon, Emily Menges, James Gronseth, and John Henke begin their summer research fellowships on May 30th.
May 2018. An expansion to the zebrafish aquarium was installed by Eric Stone with Aquarius Fish Systems.
May 2018. Congratulations Spring 2018 graduates Cassie Flachs, Tom Eggers, Hunter Sevenich, Taylor Collins, and Rachael Sawyer!
June 2018. Summer research proposal day! John Henke, Taryn Mallon, James Gronseth, and Emily Menges outlined their hypotheses, methods, and potential outcomes.
April 2018. Cassie Flachs and Taryn Mallon presented their posters at the WSU Ramaley Celebration of Research and at the Winona Health Research Fair. Congrats to Cassie for being awarded 3rd prize in the best poster contest.
April 2018. Congrats to lab alumni Mandie Kaiser for being accepted into the University of Minnesota PharmD program.
April 2018. Congrats to lab alumni Heather Nelson for accepting a position in Dr. Ann Parr's stem cell lab at the University of Minnesota.
April 2018. Congrats to lab alumni A.J. Treichel for submitting his first (first-author) manuscript for peer review.
Apr 2018. Congratulations lab alumni. Erin Dankert was accepted and will attend medical school at Des Moines University starting in Fall 2018.
Mar 2018. The lab received a grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to study "The role of axon caliber in the selective myelination of nerve axons".
Mar 2018. Congratulations lab alumni. Malory Owens was accepted and will attend the University of Minnesota dental school. Maddy Martell was accepted and will attend medical school at Medical School of Wisconsin (MCW).
Dec. 2017 Congratulations to Hunter Sevenich for being accepted to the College of Chiropractic at Northwestern Health Sciences University (MN).
Oct 2017 Congratulations! Emily Menges, Samantha Lang, and Hunter Sevenich were all awarded WSU research supply grants.
August 2017 Photos from the 6th bi-annual research boot camp.
July 2017: SDB 2017! Erin Dankert, Heather Nelson, A.J. Treichel, and Samantha Lang presented their research at the 76th Annual Society for Developmental Biology conference.
For more lab news & events, click here.
Jan 2020. Research boot camp (training day)