UQ Profile


Bruno van Swinderen, Group Leader

About me

I was first introduced to neuroscience when I worked in Jeff Hall's lab as an undergrad at Brandeis University, on courtship and circadian rhythms in Drosophila melanogaster. I then went on to get PhD in Evolutionary and Population Biology in from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. My PhD work was on general anaesthesia in a Caenorhabditis elegans model, applying both quantitative genetics and molecular genetic approaches. For my postdoc at The Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in San Diego, California (1999-2003), I returned to Drosophila to develop methods for studying perception and sleep in the fruit-fly model. I ran a lab at NSI from 2003 to late 2007, and then moved to Australia where I established a lab at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), at the University of Queensland.

My group at QBI uses Drosophila as a genetic model system to study perception in the brain. Specifically, by studying how perception is lost, we hope to gain insight on how it works. We are thus interested in three phenomena: selective attention, sleep, and general anaesthesia. During visual selective attention, ignored stimuli are suppressed in an experience-dependant manner. How does that work? During sleep, a wider swathe of stimuli are suppressed. Is that a similar mechanism? Finally, under general anaesthesia, a bewildering array of drugs do the same thing, but also more. How do they really work? These are some questions which drive my lab's research.

Here are my publications so far.

Here are a few other things I've written. Love in Benin is about growing up in Africa. God and the Middleman is about my postdoc years at NSI, and how I ended up in Australia.

I also enjoy reading comics and have drawn a few of my own stories back when I had more time. Ranjan is a story about an Indian adrift in America, mid 1990's, a loose amalgam of various Indian friends.

I love Australian rainforests.