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Arij D

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Florida State University (FSU)

Expertise

Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration, Mathematics, Computer Programming, Dynamical Systems Analysis, Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations, Computational Neuroscience, Computational Physiology, Python, Matlab, Java

Bio

I work at the intersection of neuroscience, mathematics, computer science and statistics. I am originally a computer scientist who turned to be a mathematician/statistician and then switched gears to be an experimental and computational neuroscientist, working primarily out of Chicago. Previously as a graduate student at Florida State University, then a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Chicago and finally an Assistant Professor at AUB, I spend half of my time performing experimental neuroscience techniques (see specialties below), and the other half building statistical tools, mathematical models, and computer software aimed at solving the biological problems and questions with the data I collect from neurons in particular regions of brain slices or alive behaving animals (see specialties below). The purpose of my work is to learn from the vast streams of data collected (enabled by today's technologies) thereby advancing the frontiers of human knowledge, improving our quality of life and unveiling the underpinnings of the human brain. My lab is interested in researching learning and memory, and the ways in which non-synaptic forms of plasticity (termed as intrinsic plasticity) can encode our memories. Neuroscience Skills: Whole-cell Electrophysiology (in vitro and in vivo), Pharmacological Manipulations (in vitro and in vivo), Intracellular Staining and Histology, Electrical Brain Lesioning, Neural Tracer Injections, Confocal Imaging Microscopy, Mathematical Neuroscience, etc … Data Science Skills: Dynamical System Design and Analysis, Ordinary & Partial Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Algorithms, Data Mining, Database Schema Design and Optimization, Graph Analysis and Algorithms, Neural Networks, Statistical Learning and Inference, Probabilistic Modeling, Problem Solving, Data Visualization, Machine Learning Programming Skills: Expert in JAVA (12+ years of experience), Matlab, XPPAUT and SQL. Strong experience with Python, R and C#. Fluid understanding of C, C++, PERL and Javascript. Excellent OOP and GUI skills. Excellent experience with database management systems.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Intrinsic plasticity as an alternate mechanism for learning and memory

Although information processing and storage in the brain is thought to be primarily orchestrated by synaptic plasticity, other neural mechanisms such as intrinsic plasticity are available. While a number of recent studies have described the plasticity of intrinsic excitability in several types of neurons, the significance of non-synaptic mechanisms in memory and learning remains elusive. My lab's results, among others results, suggest that exploring reciprocal interactions between intrinsic and network properties will be a fruitful avenue for understanding mechanisms of learning and memory.

Biology of Parkinson’s Disease : Pathogenesis and Pathophysiology

Parkinson's disease is a multisystem neurodegenerative and progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves. In this project, I explore the molecular, cellular and network pathways that are connected to the neurology and neuroscience of Parkinson’s disease, cover a wide range of subjects and unravel the complex relationships between genetics, molecular biology, pharmaceutical chemistry, neurobiology, imaging, assessments, and treatment regimens. Initially, I will cover foundational topics and then goes relatively in depth in covering the classical and cutting-edge research on the mechanisms that have been discovered to play a role in Parkinson's pathology.

Research Techniques in Neuroscience

Neuroscience is, by definition, a multidisciplinary field: some scientists study genes and proteins at the molecular level while others study neural circuitry using electrophysiology and high-resolution optics. A single topic, such as the auditory system, can be studied using techniques from genetics, imaging, biochemistry, or electrophysiology. Therefore, it can be daunting for young investigators or anyone new to neuroscience to learn how to read the primary literature and understand the various techniques. In this project I will provide you with a comprehensive overview of classical and cutting-edge methods in neuroscience techniques that are essential to the field. It will first cover foundational topics and then goes relatively in depth in the techniques and methods used in neuroscience, including their utility, limitations, and how data are presented in the literature.

Coding skills

Python, Java and Matlab

Languages I know

French, intermediate

Teaching experience

I have taught two graduate classes (Computational Physiology and Computational Neuroscience) for the last three years, as well as the undergraduate course "Introduction to Programming using Python and Matlab" each semester for the last four years. My undergraduate class usually have 80-100 students and my graduate classes around 25-30 students. In addition to that, I have 5 Masters and 3 PhD students in my team that are currently working with me where I'm mentoring them in their corresponding projects (involving computational and experimental neuroscience).

Credentials

Work experience

University of Chicago (2021 - Current)
Assistant Professor
American University of Beirut (2018 - Current)
Assistant Professor

Education

American University Of Beirut
BS Bachelor of Science (2007)
Computer Science and Mathematics
Florida State University (FSU)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Neuroscience and Biomedical Mathematics

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