Pallas Lab

Developmental Neurobiology

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 operates within the Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program and the Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program in the Biology Department at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, in order to create a new and improved Pallas Lab!

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


Program in Neuroscience and BehaviorDept. of BiologyUniversity of Massachusetts221 Morrill Science Center III611 North Pleasant StreetAmherst, MA 01003-9297

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 over 400 years of systemic racism and constant, widespread police brutality that continues to result in the murders of Black men and women. We support and participate in anti-racism actions.

UMass-Amherst campus view

Evening view of campus

Drone view of campus

UMass-Amherst campanile and pond

Degu adult and pup

SfN Virtual Annual Meeting


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 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.