Faculty Profile: Ewell, Laura

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Faculty Information Lab Information (Packet Type, Course Title, & Department) Location
Ewell, Laura
Lab Contact:
Laura Ewell
Department: Anatomy & Neurobiology
Irvine Hall

Research Description

The Ewell Lab employs in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology to understand the cellular mechanisms of memory and epilepsy. Most of our work focuses on hippocampal networks. We are interested in single unit physiology, oscillations, neural sequence generation, and brain-state dependent modulation. We strive to uncover and connect mechanisms at the micro-circuit and network level. The very cool aspect of the science we do is that we observe neural networks functioning in real time. Electrophysiological techniques such as tetrode recording or patch clamping allow us to 'listen' in on the fundamental language that neurons use to communicate with one another - voltage. We measure these neuronal signals while mice learn spatial memory tasks. There are specialized cells within the hippocampus that turn on (depolarize and fire action potentials) when animals visit particular locations or places - so called 'place cells'. Place cells have been extensively studied since they were discovered in 1970s. As a result our field has a deep understanding of how these cells contribute to animals learning where important things are (like reward locations) and for remember that information. Studying the spatial memory code in disease models is therefore very powerful for learning about how networks dysfunction in disease - and result in cognitive impairments. In particular, we study temporal lobe epilepsy. In addition to having seizures, people with this type of epilepsy suffer from learning and memory problems which hugely impact their quality of life. We study the mechanisms of epilepsy, and how disease related changes to neural coding impact cognitive function.
Specific Projects
There are a few projects in the lab that we are actively recruiting for.

Building an automated behavioral task for mice. We are designing new tasks that are fully automated and we are looking for help. If you are someone who likes computer coding or playing around with microcontrollers, electronics, or robotics- this will be a really fun project to be a part of.
Investigating the role of lateralization in temporal lobe epilepsy disease progression. In this project, we are trying to understand whether the left or ride side of the brain is more impacted in temporal lobe epilepsy. This project is multifaceted, and your part could involve animal behavior, electrophysiology, histology/microscopy, and data analysis (more coding!).
Visit our lab website at https://ewell-lab.com

Requirements to Participate

There are two requirements for joining our team. 1. It is very important that you want to be part of a team environment. We strive to support each other because doing research is hard! Being part of a team means helping each other, being patient with each other, and being respectful. 2. Being curious and wanting to learn. The 'hook' of primary research is that you are literally at the edge of knowledge. If you are interested in joining us, please send a brief personal statement (who are you - what are you interested in with regards to research - what are your goals). Let us know if you have a background well suited to one of the specific projects mentioned above - or why you are interested in those projects. The time commitment will depend on the project you are interested in. 3 units ( 3- 4 hours/week per unit) is likely -although we could discuss 2 or 4 units.

Faculty Means of Evaluation

Attendance: 30Pts (working assigned hours, being on time)
Lab Work: 40Pts (quality, accuracy, observing lab safety)
Communication: 30Pts (participate in lab meetings and lab journal clubs)

Total: 100 points