Dr. Anna Greenwood, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Katie Peichel's lab in the Human Biology Division, has been named a recipient of a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation fellowship. The $135,000, three-year award is one of 19 awarded in the country.
Greenwood's research focuses on understanding how the nervous system of female stickleback fish controls mate selection. The project will provide fundamental information about how vision is processed in fish, and will also begin to answer questions about how evolution can shape the brain's control of behavior.
The coloration adopted by male stickleback fish during the breeding season is an important signal that influences mate choice by females. Although males of most species display a distinct red coloration pattern, some species instead show black coloration. These differences in male display are linked to differences in female mate choice preference and sensitivity to the color red.
In order to understand how these species differences emerge from the activity of the nervous system, Greenwood will use techniques that allow her to trace nervous-system connections that originate from the receptors in the eye that perceive different colors and to determine which brain areas respond to different colors. She will then use this information to determine differences in this circuitry between stickleback populations that prefer red or black coloration when choosing a mate.