Pallas Lab

Developmental Neurobiology

[Image credit: M. Shribak and T. Balmer]

Welcome to the Pallas Lab!

Our research is aimed at understanding the neural circuitry and cellular/molecular mechanisms underlying development, plasticity, and evolution of visual and auditory pathways in the brain.  We conduct basic neuroscience research that has implications for traumatic brain injury, optic nerve regeneration, learning and memory, and neurological diseases such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, and autism.

The Pallas Lab is in the Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and operates within the Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program and the Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program.


Contact:

Dept. of BiologyUniversity of Massachusetts221 Morrill Science Center III611 North Pleasant StreetAmherst, MA 01003-9297 spallas@umass.edu

The science done in the Pallas lab depends on the diverse perspectives of our team members. 
We are  committed to equity and inclusion in our lab group and in society. 
We condemn the systemic racism and violent colonialism that stains our nation's history. 
We support and participate in anti-racism actions.

NEWS: 

3/15/24: We're midway through the semester and heading toward the graduation of our two wonderful undergrad research assistants Korey Sudana and Joohee Lee. They will be missed!

1/11/2024: Doctoral student Parag Juvale has been awarded with a Ph.D.! He will be taking a postdoctoral position in the U.K. Congratulations Parag!

1/2/2024: Doctoral student Christine Battle Otfinoski has been awarded with a Ph.D.! She will take on a Visiting Instructor position at local colleges. Congratulations Christine!

11/30/23: Postdoc Pedro Umberto has returned to Chile for a faculty position at U Chile-Santiago. Congratulations Pedro!

11/30/23: Doctoral student Parag Juvale defended his thesis today!

11/20/23: Doctoral student Christine Battle Otfinoski defended her thesis today!

11/10/2024: Postdoc Pedro Uvalde presented his poster at the Soc Neurosci meeting today. "Refinement and maintenance of receptive field size in V1 neurons of mice occurs despite the absence of visual experience."

3/23/23:  We are wrapping up several projects and looking forward to writing papers about our UMass experiments for you to read!

5/10/22:  The semester is winding down, and we're excited to spend more time in the lab!

3/1/22:  Parag Juvale's grant success has been celebrated in the UMass Institute of Neuroscience's newsletter.  https://blogs.umass.edu/ions/2022/03/01/student-spotlight-parag-juvale/?utm_source=mailpoet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=currents-newsletter-fall-2021_4  

1/31/22:  We've added 3 new undergrads to our lab group- Annie Zhu, Aayush Patel, and Paulina Xifaras.  We're glad to have you all!

1/5/21: Parag Juvale has been awarded a prestigious Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research.  Great job, Parag!

12/8/21 Undergraduate student Korey Sudana has joined the lab.  Welcome to the team, Korey!

12/14/21:  We have successfully completed our face-to-face, covid19-safe Fall semester!  Thanks to the entire community and the UMass Public Health department for keeping us safe.

7/1/2021:  We are finally able to begin our collaboration with the van Hooser Lab at Brandeis University.  We will be exploring the evolution of developmental plasticity in the visual system.

5/4/2021:  Graduate student Parag Juvale has been awarded a Pre-dissertation grant from the Graduate School here at UMass-Amherst.  Congratulations, Parag, well done!

5/1/21:  At long last, Dr. Pedro Francisco Fernandez Aburto has arrived from Chile to take up physical rather than just virtual presence as a postdoc in the lab.  Bienvenidos, Pedro!  Dr. Aburto, like Dr. Marquez, the other postdoc in the lab, was trained in the famous Biology of Cognition Lab at the University of Chile-Santiago, started by Prof. Humberto Maturana following his stint at MIT in 1958-60.  That lab is now headed by our collaborators Profs. Jorge Mpodozis, Juan-Carlos Letelier, and Gonzalo Mari'n.

2/8/21:  We are back on lockdown and virtual-only classes due to a spike in student COVID-19 cases.  Please stay #SixFeetApart! #StayHome! #WearAMask!

2/1/21:  The Spring semester has started, with limited face-to-face classes and more undergrads allowed in dorms.

1/12/21:  Parag Juvale and Natalia Marquez presented their posters at the #SfN #GlobalConnectome, a virtual version of our annual SfN meeting that was canceled due to the pandemic.

7/27/20 - 8/2/20 is #BlackInNeuro Week!  See https://www.blackinneuro.com/  for details and to celebrate the many outstanding contributions that Black Neuroscientists have made to our field.

7/15/20:  Umass will be reopening on a limited basis for Fall semester.  We are anxious to get back to our lab!

7/11/20:  The FENS-Glasgow meeting was virtual this year.  We missed the Scotch whiskey tour, but the work done by Parag Juvale, David Mudd, and Nitheyaa Shree- "Maintenance of refined visual receptive fields through BDNF-TrkB signaling depends on presynaptic GABA levels but not postsynaptic GABAA or NMDA receptors or chloride pumps "-on postsynaptic GABA receptor plasticity under conditions of long-term visual deprivation was presented virtually by Parag.  Although better than no conference, virtual conferences just can't compete with the real thing!

6/18/20:  Congratulations to Parag Juvale, who passed his oral qualifying exam on June 18, 2020, and now moves on to candidacy for the Ph.D. 

Nov 2019:  Our first degu visual system poster got a lot of attention at SfN 2019 in Chicago!  Thanks to all of my Chilean colleagues at U Chile-Santiago for their hard work:  Postdoc Dr. Natalia Marquez, students Alfonso Deichler and Ignacio Perales, and PIs Prof. Jorge Mpodozis, Prof. Juan-Carlos Letelier, and Prof. Gonzalo Marin.  140.16. Visual responses in the superior colliculus of a diurnal, precocial hystricognath rodent: Octodon degus.  N. I. MARQUEZ1, A. R. DEICHLER1, I. PERALES1, J.-C. LETELIER1, G. J. MARÍN2, J. MPODOZIS1, *S. L. PALLAS3;   1Biol., 2Univ. of Chile, Santiago, Chile; 3Biol., Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA   

7/17/19:  Congratulations to David Mudd, for passing his dissertation defense!  David will be working in the field of intellectual property at Emory University.

DEMO: Below are some movies that we made of transgenic mouse brains.  These were made using an adaptation of the CLARITY method for imaging cleared whole brains in 3-D, with help from Joe Bergan and his lab at U Mass-Amherst (Isogai et al., 2017).  These mice have GFP expression tied to Thy-1 expression.  Thy-1 labels many different types of neurons, allowing for a nice demonstration of the utility of this method.  We will use it to label particular neuron types and particular proteins that are involved in development and plasticity of visual pathways in the brain (see Research and Publications).  


Isogai Y, Richardson DS, Dulac C, Bergan J.   Optimized Protocol for Imaging Cleared Neural Tissues Using Light Microscopy.   Methods Mol Biol. 2017;1538:137-153.
Light sheet photomicrography shows 3-D stack of images taken from a mid-sagittal view of a mouse brain labeled with Thy-1 GFP.  Collaboration with laboratory of Joe Bergen, U Mass-Amherst.
Light sheet photomicrography shows 3-D stack of images taken of a mouse midbrain region labeled with Thy-1 GFP.  Collaboration with laboratory of Joe Bergen, U Mass-Amherst.
Light sheet photomicrography shows 3-D stack of images taken of a mouse optic nerve labeled with Thy-1 GFP.  Collaboration with laboratory of Joe Bergen, U Mass-Amherst.