BSc, MA, PhD
Professor of Neurogenetics
- Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator
Genetic Dissection of Sexual Behaviour
Stephen studied genetics as an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow, and researched Drosophila learning and memory for his Ph.D. After a postdoctoral stint in Jeff Hall’s lab at Brandeis University (USA), where he used molecular-genetic and behavioural approaches in the fruit fly to understand how the sexual identity of a nervous system and its behaviours are specified, he returned to the UK and spent 10 years leading a research group at the University of Glasgow. He arrived in Oxford in 2009, where he is a Professor of Neurogenetics, a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, and a Tutorial Fellow in Genetics at Magdalen College. He is part of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour along with the groups of Gero Miesenböck and Scott Waddell.
Stephen’s group uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to study the genetic, developmental, and neural mechanisms that underlie sex-specific behaviours in higher animals. In particular, the elaborate courtship ritual performed by the male fly has provided remarkable insights into how the neural circuitry underlying sexual behaviour, which is largely innate in flies, is built into the nervous system during development, and how this circuitry functions in the adult. The fly has the advantages of advanced molecular genetics approaches along with well-defined anatomy and physiology.