Name: Jonathan Choy
Hometown: Burlingame, California
Hobbies: Photography, Hiking, Basketball, Table tennis, Rubik’s cube
Lab: Su Lab
Lab website: https://sites.google.com/view/su-lab-ucsd/home
What do you study?
My research focuses on determining the structures of neurons responsible for fruit flies’ sense of smell. I analyze images acquired via serial block-face electron microscopy (SBEM) which captures cellular structures with nanoscale resolution. Tracing the SBEM images of olfactory neurons, I can then generate 3D neuronal models with an ultimate goal to understand the relationship between neuronal structure and its function. More specifically, my current project aims to characterize neuronal turnover in flies by focusing on dendritic fragmentation.
Why is it important?
Unlike other methods for studying cellular structures, serial block-face electron microscopy (SBEM) allows cellular morphology and structure to be analyzed at a nanoscale resolution. In my current project, SBEM allows me to observe discontinuities in neuronal dendrites that are difficult to distinguish with confocal light microscopies. More broadly, this method allows for unequivocal characterization of neuronal turnover, or the degeneration and regeneration of neurons responsible for flies’ sense of smell. While neuronal turnover is well characterized for vertebrate species, it remains underexplored in invertebrate species such as insects—addressing this question may offer new avenues to better control insect disease vectors.
What piqued your interest in science?
My fascination for science is rooted in my experiences with AP science classes in high school; there I realized how science impacts all aspects of human life. Learning about science makes me feel more aware of the things around me—and that’s a great feeling.
What do you like about being a scientist?
Being a scientist satisfies my curiosity to learn and discover new things. I enjoy addressing research questions through experiments, and seeing how those experimental results answer our over-arching questions. It’s comforting knowing I am making contributions to research that may help solving real-life problems.
What are 5 general vocabulary terms someone should know going into your field of science?
Drosophila, electron microscopy, olfaction, neuron, receptor
What are 5 specific vocabulary terms someone should know about your research?
Neurobiology, neuronal turnover, sensilla, dendrite, 3D-model
Preview: Click to see a preview of 3D modes of discontinuous olfactory receptor neurons in Drosophila. Attend Jonathan’s SciChat to learn about it & much more!