Vanessa Ruta received a PhD from Rockefeller University where she worked with Rod MacKinnon to define the structural basis for voltage-sensing in voltage-dependent ion channels. During her post-doctoral training, she transitioned from studying structure-function relationships at the molecular level to examining the functional architecture of neural circuits in Drosophila in Richard Axel’s lab at Columbia University. Ruta joined Rockefeller University at the end of 2011, where she currently heads the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Behavior. The central focus of the Ruta lab is to explore how neural circuits can be flexibly modified through individual experience or over evolution to generate adaptive variations in behavior. By applying a broad multidisciplinary toolkit to study the concise chemosensory circuits of the fly, Ruta’s goal is to reveal how these pathways mediate fixed and flexible behaviors at the level of synaptic, cellular and circuit motifs. Ruta is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards including a McKnight Scholar Award, a Pew Biomedical Scholar Award, an NIH New Innovator Award and a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship and was named a Robertson Neuroscience Investigator by the New York Stem Cell Foundation.
Current Project: The Representation of Internal State of The Fly Brain