Anna Bowen, Ph.D.

University of Washington

I am an Alaskan Native (Aleut tribe) and a first year postdoctoral fellow in the Steinmetz lab. I received my Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Washington under Dr. Richard Palmiter studying the brain circuits that relay sensory information to the emotional centers of the brain that are important for forming memories and feelings. I grew up in rural Washington State and didn’t imagine that it was possible for me to be a scientist. The inspiration, encouragement and help given to me by teachers to pursue the subjects that most excited me helped me reach higher education and pursue a career in science, where I have been awarded fellowships during every career stage, from undergraduate to now. These experiences have made me passionate about mentoring others and helping them identify and achieve their goals, and also made obvious the joys and benefits of bravely exploring unfamiliar areas of study.

Principal Investigator: Nick Steinmetz

Fellow: Julia Hopkins

Project
We value things more if we need them. The brain is thought to control these two aspects of cognition through complementary systems: one that senses the state of the body (am I hungry?) and then creates feedback to guide motivation and attention (find food!); the other that monitors goods received for whether they counter the deficit (am I full yet?). Many cognitive-behavioral disorders involve dysregulation in these systems. My project in the Steinmetz lab seeks to unravel the evolving representation of reward value across the brain as need for the reward changes. Our approach uses brain-wide recordings from 1000s of neurons in mice as they work to receive rewards and reach satiation, and computational techniques to extract neural signatures of value and need that dynamically change across trials. A trainee on this project would contribute to animal training and data analysis and learn about neural systems and computation.

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