G. Troy Smith

G. Troy Smith

Associate Professor, Biology

Associate Chair for Teaching, Biology


  • Ph.D., University of Washington, 1996

Current research in our laboratory focuses on five main questions:

  • How does the nervous system control rhythmic behavior? We use electrophysiological techniques to study how neurons in the brainstem and spinal cord generate the command signal for the precise, high frequency rhythm of the EOD.
  • How do hormones modify the nervous system to produce sex differences in behavior? By studying the differences between males and females in the structure and function of neurons that control the EOD, we seek to understand how hormone actions on single neurons and neural circuits influence sexual dimorphism in the behavioral output of those circuits.
  • How has the nervous system evolved to produce species diversity in behavior? We are interested in neurophysiological differences between species of fish that produce low frequency discharges (<100 Hz) and species that produce high frequency discharges (>1000 Hz). These studies will contribute to our understanding of how neuronal physiology evolved to produce species diversity in rhythmic behavior.
  • What mechanisms underlie species diversity in sexual dimorphism of behavior? EOD frequency is higher in females than males in some species, but lower in females than males in other species. We are interested in the physiological and evolutionary mechanisms that underlie reversals in the direction of sexual dimorphism across species.
  • What mechanisms cause species and sex differences in more complex electrocommunication signals? Electric fish modulate the frequency and amplitude of their electrical signals to produce more complex communication signals called "chirps." We are studying the neural and hormonal mechanisms that contribute to species and sex differences in chirping behavior.