|Nationality United States|
Name Susan McConnell
Institutions Stanford University
|Alma mater Harvard University|
Known for Neural development
Doctoral advisor Simon LeVay
|Education Stanford University School of Medicine (1989), Harvard University (1987), Harvard University (1980)|
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Writing matters susan mcconnell professor of humanities and sciences at stanford university
Susan McConnell is a neurobiologist who studies the development of neural circuits in the mammalian cerebral cortex. She is a professor in the Department of Biology at Stanford University, where she is the Susan B. Ford Professor of Humanities and Sciences, the Dunlevie Family University Fellow, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
- Writing matters susan mcconnell professor of humanities and sciences at stanford university
- Susan mcconnell stanford designing effective scientific presentations
- Conservation photography
- Awards and honors
Susan mcconnell stanford designing effective scientific presentations
McConnell graduated with a joint A.B. degree from Harvard College and Radcliffe College in 1980. She did her doctoral work in the research group of Simon LeVay and received her PhD in neurobiology from Harvard University in 1987. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Carla J. Shatz at Stanford University.
McConnell's research focuses on understanding how neurons in the developing cerebral cortex are produced, differentiated, and connected to form functional circuits.
McConnell's research showed that progression through the cell cycle plays a key role in determining the final differentiated state of a neural progenitor cell. McConnell also confirmed the hypothesis that asymmetric cell division, as determined by the orientation of the dividing progenitor's cleavage plane, regulates cortical development. Her work elucidated the first molecular mechanism for this process, showing that asymmetrically inherited Notch proteins determine whether a new daughter cell will differentiate into a neuron or remain a neural progenitor.
Her work also showed that developing cortical neurons use a variety of different migratory paths as they move from their birthplace to their final destination in the cortex. This work stood in contrast to a prevailing theory at the time, which was that all neuronal migration in the cortex was dependent upon radial glia.
More recent work has continued to outline the molecular mechanisms underlying neural differentiation and neuronal migration, as well as axon guidance.
Stanford University has recognized McConnell with its two highest teaching honors, the Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has been teaching undergraduate courses on neural development since joining the faculty at Stanford in 1989.
From 2010 to 2012, McConnell co-chaired a university-wide commission that evaluated undergraduate education at Stanford. That commission's recommendations encouraged students and teachers "to reconsider what they do, how they do it, and why it matters" and urged reforms in the university's general education programs. McConnell was also the principal force behind creation of Stanford's Senior Reflection in Biology, a capstone course for senior undergraduates in which life science students complete creative projects synthesizing the arts and the sciences.
In addition to her career in research and teaching, McConnell is an accomplished wildlife photographer. After photographing animals during a trip to the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, she developed an interest in using photography to tell stories about animal behavior. She teaches undergraduate classes on conservation photography at Stanford. Her photos have been featured in various publications including Smithsonian and National Geographic.
Awards and honors
McConnell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She has received many other awards and honors, for example: