Tag Archive for: zebrafish

Friday Science Seminar speaker discusses zebrafish in study of neurological disease

Friday Science Seminar: What can we learn from a fish?

Michael Johnson, Ph.D., an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas and developer of electroanalytical methods for the study of Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, will be the guest speaker on March 10 for SOU’s Friday Science Seminar.

The lecture, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 151 of the SOU Science Building, is titled, “What Can We Learn From a Fish? Zebrafish as a model of neuronal function and disease.” The presentation is part of the SOU STEM Division’s Friday Science Seminars program, which offers events on topics ranging from astronomy to computer science to biochemistry.

Johnson studies neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s, using zebrafish as a model organism. He will discuss the use of fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, an electrochemical technique used to monitor neurochemicals in living organisms, to measure the effects of zinc ion on dopamine release and uptake in zebrafish brains. The method allows for the detection of sub-second changes in dopamine levels.

Zebrafish were used first at the University of Oregon for the study of development, but have become recognized as a valuable tool to study neuronal function.

Johnson will share his research in two areas during his SOU talk. In the first project, his team has developed a method to apply zinc ion with sub-second precision in zebrafish brains to measure the immediate effect on dopamine release and uptake. They have also identified differences in how zinc ion affects dopamine release and uptake in zebrafish treated with rotenone, a model of Parkinson’s disease.

In the second project, Johnson’s team has adapted a method to measure oxytocin, a nonapeptide with various functions.

Johnson received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He later earned his master’s degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Colorado, Denver, and his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Johnson joined the faculty at the University of Kansas in 2005, where he has focused on developing electroanalytical methods for the study of neurological disease.


SOU alumna to offer Friday Science Seminar on zebrafish study

SOU alumna and doctoral candidate Sarah Stednitz will offer a lecture from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Friday that examines the social interactions of zebrafish and their implications on autism research and other deficits in humans’ social behavior.

The Friday Science Seminar event will be in the Science Building Auditorium (Room 151). The lecture is free and refreshments will be provided by SOU’s STEM Division.

Originally from Morro Bay, California, Stednitz was the recipient of the Ruhl Learning Fellowship and graduated from SOU in 2011. She earned her master’s degree at Humboldt State University and is currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Oregon.

Stednitz’s findings could be instrumental in furthering research on schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. She has been studying how zebrafish behave in various social situations. The much-researched fish are genetically modifiable and show elaborate social patterns both in the laboratory and in the wild.

Zebrafish use each other to copy motions, and use other socially active fish to begin social orienting. Stednitz’s work shows that a non-engaged fish will not trigger social interactions with a normal fish. The mutated genes in the zebrafish may be similar to mutated genes in humans, which could mean the fish are essentially autistic.

Stednitz’s research is far from complete, however. Multiple questions still need to be answered about similarities and differences in the brains of zebrafish and humans.

“We leveraged modern neuroscience tools to address these questions, providing a foundation to understand how social cognition may be disrupted across species,” Stednitz said.

SOU’s Friday Science Seminar program offers presentations each week on topics ranging from biology to computer science to chemistry.

Story by Bryn Mosier, SOU Marketing and Communications intern