Scott Sterrett, Ph.D.

University of Washington

Scott Sterrett is a Ph.D. student in the neuroscience program at the University of Washington (UW) working with Adrienne Fairhall and David Gire. In his research, he develops computational models of natural behaviors and the neural circuits that support them. At UW, he studies odor guided navigation using behavioral and neural data from flies and mice. Previously, he completed a B.S. and M.S. in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. In his masters, he studied marmoset vocalization behaviors with Xiaoqin Wang. Scott is an active teacher and mentor, co-leading the UW undergraduate computational neuroscience journal club and mentoring an undergraduate in the Gire lab. Outside of the lab, Scott enjoys backpacking around the Pacific Northwest and birdwatching in the Seattle area.

Principal Investigator: Adrienne Fairhall

Fellow: A’Dawnah Pangelinan

Animals use odor cues to navigate complex environments, locate sources of food and mates, or avoid predators. In natural environments, animals experience intermittent sensory cues due to the chaotic structure of odor plumes, yet are able to successfully localize the source of appetitive odors. The goal of this project is to build models which advance our understanding of the behavioral algorithms and neural implementations underlying this behavior. With short-term plasticity rules inferred from neural recordings of sensory, motor, and reward signals in the fly mushroom body, we will test reinforcement learning rules in an agent-based simulation environment. These simulations will be compared with behavioral data from freely navigating flies to understand the mechanisms that support the neural computations underlying this complex behavior.

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