Stefan Pulver – Lab Head

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Stefan is interested in understanding how neural networks generate adaptive behaviours. As an undergraduate, he studied the olfactory system of cockroaches and the neuromuscular system of crabs. He went on to study motor control in lobsters and flies (Drosophila) as a PhD student at Brandeis University. Stefan continued working with larval Drosophila during postdoctoral work in the UK and in the USA. He then returned to the UK in 2015 to start his own lab at the University of St Andrews. Stefan has a long standing interest in developing ways of adapting research technologies for use in education and the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at St Andrews provides an ideal environment to combine his interests in research and teaching.

Lecturer in Neuroscience, University of St Andrews, 2015-present

Junior Fellow, Janelia Research Campus, 2011-2014

Royal Society Newton International Fellow, University of Cambridge, 2009-2011

PhD Neuroscience, Brandeis University, 2003-2009

BA Biology, Colby College 1995-1999

PhD Students

Julius Jonaitis

Julius is interested in understanding how animals coordinate rhythmic motor programmes during locomotion. Julius works with the Drosophila larval locomotor system where a variety of techniques can be employed. He is currently using electron microscopy, electrophysiology, calcium imaging, optogenetics and behavioural analyses to explore two questions: 1) Where are rhythm generating modules located in the larval ventral nerve cord? and 2) How do ascending interneurons coordinate the activity of rhythm generators across the anterior-posterior axis of the ventral nerve cord?

Medical laboratory assistant, Virology/Pathology Laboratory, Royal London Hospital, 2014-2015

Research assistant, University of East London, 2014

MSc Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of East London, 2012-2014

BSc Biomedical Science, University of East London, 2008-2012

Jamie MacLeod

Jamie studies how neural networks can be efficiently repurposed to carry out different tasks in the face of changing situations. Jamie uses D.melanogaster larvae as a model system to understand how neuromodulators can be used by a nervous system to influence locomotor output.

BSc (Hons) Neuroscience, University of St Andrews (2011-15)

Jacob Francis

Jacob is interested in developing a network-based understanding of Drosophila larval locomotion using live imaging of neural activity and computational modeling. This research is under the supervision of Dr Stefan Pulver and Dr Anne Smith. Jacob has also had experience with robotics and perception/vision at the University of Birmingham,
and has worked as a web developer for 4 years previously.

MSc Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics, University of Birmingham, 2016-2017

Web developer, Kagool, 2012-2016

BSc Computer Science, Swansea University 2008-2012

Nikolaos Maragkos

Nikolaos is interested in understanding how physiological function in the nervous system emerges across levels of biological organisation, from molecules to circuits to behaviour, during development, in health and disease – and of course, in the light of evolution. In this context, he is currently investigating mechanisms of Motor Neurone Disease in larval Drosophila. Nikolaos is also interested in Biological Education. He enjoys adapting his research material for illustrating the utility of the fruit-fly as a tool for teaching and public outreach, and for imparting fundamental principles of Biology and a critical understanding of the Scientific Method.

MSc Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, University of Tübingen (Graduate Training Centre of Neuroscience, and the International Max Planck Research School for Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience), 2015 – 2017

BSc Biomedical Sciences (Physiology Honours), The University of Edinburgh, 2011 – 2015

Jonathan Booth

Masters Students

Kevin Myers

Kevin studies how sodium pumps regulate locomotor circuits in Drosophila larvae. Kevin previously worked studied the physiological effects of excitotoxicity in Xenopus Laevis

MRes Neuroscience, University of St. Andrews, 2018-present

BSc Biomedical Science (Hons), Abertay University, 2014-2018.

Undergraduate Students

Victoria Bennington

Victoria is a Neuroscience undergraduate researching how dopamine impacts various elements of movement in Drosophila melanogaster. Victoria has previously interned at The Buck Institute for Research on Aging where she presented her research on the Alzheimer’s polymorphisms E191G and N585Y. During her time as a research intern at California Pacific Medical Center, Victoria contributed to a paper on attitudes surrounding motor neurone disease and another paper on discrepancies in the way hepatocellular carcinoma is treated throughout the United States.

Caroline Creasey

Kelvin Dempster

Lab Assistants


Roxy is interested in object tracking and predator-prey interactions. She studies how to track the position of balls, treats, and toys in natural environments. Roxy is also intrigued by high speed locomotion and escape behaviours in small mammals, particularly lagomorphs. In addition to her research roles, Roxy contributes to the MRES neuroscience degree at St Andrews as a Dog Assistant (DA).

Dog Assistant, MRES Neuroscience degree, 2017-present

Puppy 2015-2017