Current members:

Gregory W Schwartz, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
(312) 503-7503
SusanW Susan Wohlgenant
Lab Manager
(312) 503-0857
Sam Cooler
Graduate Student
I study retinal ganglion cells, the output cells of the retina. I investigate how they receive and combine their particular set of synaptic inputs in order to generate feature selectivity to extract information about the visual world for the brain. In particular, I look at gap junctions between ganglion cells, and how they influence neuronal synchrony and signal flow.
Jillian Jillian Goetz, Ph.D.
Post Doctoral Fellow
Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are a critical population in visual processing, not only due to their role as the sole output neurons of the retina, but also due to their multifaceted functionality as feature detectors. Although we know that upwards of 40 RGCs preferentially respond to a diverse array of stimuli, we are still working to determine exactly how many RGC subtypes exist and how those they vary morphologically, functionally, and genetically. I’m combining the Schwartz lab’s expertise in electrophysiological typing with single-cell transcriptomics to determine a comprehensive typology of retinal ganglion cells.
David SwygartDavid Swygart
Graduate Student
The overall goal of my research is to understand where and how the retina processes the visual signal. Traditionally, scientists assumed each neuron integrated signals from upstream neurons and then relayed that signal to downstream neurons as a single “channel” of information. However, we show that the signal can diverge due to computations that occur in different compartments of the same cell. This allows a single neuron to output two different signals onto two different downstream cells, allowing for greater processing of the visual signal with a fewer number of cells.

Sophia Wienbar
Graduate Student
I am interested in how intrinsic properties of neurons contribute to specific neuronal computations. In particular, I am studying how active conductances and the excitability of a neuron contribute to the Suppressed-by-Contrast feature selectivity of a novel retinal ganglion cell.
kayla-photoKayla Woodard
Jared Levine, PhD.
Post Doctoral Fellow
Visual information is encoded by over 40 different types of retinal ganglion cells, and routed to visual centers throughout the brain. I’m interested generally in which RGC types go to to which brain regions, with a focus on thalamic and pretectal areas.
Devon Greer
Graduate Student
Direct retinal projections to the brain innervate an extensive number of brain areas. Identifying the functional selectivity RGCs projecting to hypothalamus would provide crucial insights into the role of visual input into related behaviors. Thus I am exploring the RGC subtypes and visual cues that may drive innate hypothalamic behavior.
Zachary Jessen
MD-PhD student
I am interested in describing neural computations in the retina as they relate to health and disease. My main focus is on using calcium imaging and biophysical models to understand retinal neurovascular coupling and how it may be perturbed in diabetic retinopathy. Other projects with which I am or have been involved include modeling the circuit dynamics of the nNOS-2 amacrine cell, modeling the statistical properties of bipolar cell-to-RGC neurotransmission, and using our knowledge of RGC typology to improve retinal prostheses.

Past members:

Todd Appleby
Graduate Student
Current position: Ph.D. Candidate, University of Washington, Manookin Lab
Adam Mani, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Current position: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Brown University, Berson Lab
Jason Jacoby, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Current position: Systems Engineering Scientist, 3i (Intelligent Imaging Innovations), Denver, CO

Amurta Nath, Ph.D.
Graduate Student
Current position: Post-Doctoral Fellow, NIH, Diamond Lab