Kevin Collins

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

218 Cox Neuroscience and Health Annex
E-mail: kevin.collins@miami.edu
Office: (305) 284-9058

Lab Website


EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • 2014-present, Assistant Professor, University of Miami Biology Department
  • 2013-2014, Associate Research Scientist, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University
  • 2006-2012, Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University
  • 2000-2006, Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Dartmouth College
  • 1993-1997, B.S. in Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

AWARDS

  • 2012, EMBO C. elegans Neurobiology Conference, Poster Prize
  • 2003, American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Travel Award

GRANTS

  • 2014-2018, NIH R01 (PIs: Collins, KM and Koelle, MR), “Neuromodulator Signaling and Activity in the C. elegans Egg-laying Circuit
  • 2011-2012  American Heart Association, Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2007-2010, NIH, Individual National Research Service Award
  • 2002-2004, NIH, Molecular and Cellular Biology Training Grant

AREAS OF FOCUS

  • Neuroscience, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Behavior

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Our fundamental goal is to understand how neurons communicate in circuits to establish an appropriate level of activity that produces a robust, stable behavior. Our approach is to analyze in detail a model neural circuit that controls egg-laying behavior in the nematode C. elegans. We are taking advantage of the optical clarity and powerful genetics in this experimental system to literally watch the activity of every cell in the circuit in behaving animals using fluorescent Ca2+ reporters, and also to manipulate their activity using optogenetic tools. Using mutations and transgenes to discover and alter molecular signaling events between cells, we are determining how the complex pattern of activity in a circuit creates a coherent, regulated behavior. The neural circuit we study uses conserved, medically relevant neurotransmitters, including serotonin and acetylcholine, and we expect these studies will reveal general principles of neurotransmitter signaling and neural circuit function with applications to understanding the human nervous system and its dysfunction in disease.


TEACHING INTERESTS

I enjoy teaching students in the classroom and laboratory, focusing on core biological principles, experimental techniques, and ways of thinking rather than the memorization of facts. My goals are: (1) foster a supportive but challenging atmosphere where questions, critical thinking, and collaboration are encouraged; (2) establish a solid foundation of basic biological principles and methods, and how they can be used to creatively address interesting scientific questions; (3) develop effective written and oral communication skills; and (4) cultivate a broad interest in science and its role in society.

C. elegans is a great model system to teach students laboratory research. In my group, we develop research projects collaboratively:  designing experiments, discussing results, performing data analyses, and communicating the impact of our work in a clear, simple, and interesting way.

 


SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

  • Thapaliya ER, Zhang Y, Dhakal P, Brown AS, Wilson JN, Collins K, Raymo FM (2017) Bioimaging with Macromolecular Probes Incorporating Multiple BODIPY Fluorophores. Bioconjugate Chemistry, in press.

    Banerjee N, Bhattacharya R, Gorczyca M, Collins KM, Francis MM. (2017) Local neuropeptide signaling modulates serotonergic transmission to shape the temporal organization of C. elegans egg-laying behavior. PLoS Genetics, 13 (4) e1006697.

    Collins KM, Bode A, Fernandez RW, Tanis JE, Brewer J, Creamer M, Koelle MR. (2016) Activity of the C. elegans egg-laying behavior circuit is controlled by competing activation and feedback inhibition. eLife. 5: e21126.

    Li P, Collins KM, Koelle MR, and Shen, K. (2013) LIN-12/Notch signaling instructs postsynaptic target selection by regulating UNC-40/DCC and MADD-2 in Caenorhabditis elegans. eLife. 2: e003788.

    Collins KM and Koelle MR (2013) Postsynaptic ERG potassium channels limit muscle excitability to allow distinct egg-laying behavior states in Caenorhabditis elegans.  J. Neurosci. 33(2): 761-775.
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