Mao Lab

Neuronal pathways in the mouse brain labeled with pseudocolor

Scientist and Principal Investigator: Tianyi Mao

Opportunities for young scientists

The research mission of the Mao Lab is to gain mechanistic understanding of the neural circuitry underlying motor control and sensori-motor integration in both normal and motor deficient animals. We value high quality science, collaboration and career development for young scientists. RO1 funded postdoctoral fellow positions are currently available. We also encourage graduate students and undergraduate students who are excited by our research to contact us. Please email Tianyi Mao (mao AT ohsu DOT edu) with any inquiries.

A Comprehensive Thalamocortical Projection Map at the Mesoscopic Level

The Mao Lab used modern viral tracing techniques and high-speed imaging to label thalamic projections and image their cortical targets from 75 brains with 254 injections. A comprehensive thalamocortical projection map, with a quantitative description of the thalamic origin of 19 cortical targets, is available to the public.
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Current lab members

Tianyi Mao in the Mao Lab

Tianyi Mao, Scientist and Principal Investigator
Contact: mao AT ohsu DOT edu

After earning her B.S. in Biological Science and Biotechnology at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China in 1997, Mao received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2005. She did postdoctoral research at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and then at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus. Mao was appointed as an assistant scientist at the Vollum Institute in September 2010 and was promoted to scientist in 2017.

Landon Bayless-Edwards

Landon Bayless-Edwards, MD/PhD Student
Contact: baylesse AT ohsu DOT edu

Landon is an MD/PhD student who joined the Mao lab in spring 2021. In 2016 she received Bachelors of Science degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College, and in 2019 she received a Masters of Science in Biology from Idaho State University. Her master's thesis was focused on the effect of point mutations implicated in paralysis disorders on voltage-gated sodium channel gating. In the Mao lab she plans to use two-photon imaging to understand opioid neuromodulation in brain regions associated with affective pain. Outside of lab she enjoys hiking, gardening, and spending time with her wife and son.

Yang Chen in the Mao Lab

Yang Chen, Graduate Student
Contact: chenyan AT ohsu DOT edu

Yang joined the Mao lab in 2018 as an NGP graduate student. She earned her B.A. in Biological Chemistry from Grinnell College, where she studied the effect of homocysteine on neurotransmission in the mouse neuromuscular junction. For her graduate work, Yang plans to explore subregional inhibitory circuits in the striatum using laser scanning photostimulation combined with electrophysiology. Outside of the lab, Yang enjoys music, travelling and developing cooking recipes.

Amelia Culp

Amelia Culp, Graduate Student
Contact: culpa AT ohsu DOT edu

Amelia joined the Mao lab as a graduate student in the summer of 2020. In 2019, she received her B.S. in Physics with a minor in Philosophy from Boston College. Her undergraduate research included physics and neuroscience projects. Amelia worked under Dr. Fred Sharifi, manipulating crystalline substrates for use in biosensing technology, and with Dr. John Christianson exploring the insular cortex’s role in familiarity-mediated social interaction in rats. She plans to use cutting-edge whole brain imaging and connectomic approaches to understand how brain connectivity underlies its function. Outside the lab, Amelia enjoys rock climbing, cycling, and backpacking along with cooking and taking care of her plants.

Julian Day-Cooney

Julian Day-Cooney, Postdoctoral Fellow
Contact: cooneyju AT ohsu DOT edu

Julian joined the lab in January 2021 after completing their Ph.D. in the lab of John Maunsell at the University of Chicago where they developed new approaches perturbing visual cortical activity during behavior in order to characterize the behaviorally-relevant neuronal activity in perceptual tasks. Now they are applying their knowledge of mouse behavior and circuit dissection to better understand the contribution of different cell types and neuromodulatory systems in insular cortex to interoceptive perception. They spend their free time exploring the city of Portland, hiking, and making/seeing visual art.

Ian Gingerich

Ian Gingerich, Research Assistant 2
Contact: gingerii AT ohsu DOT edu

Ian joined the Mao lab in January 2020 as a research assistant. He earned his B.A. in Biology from Whitman College, where he investigated eye and head movement deficits in concussion patients. As a researcher in the Mao lab, Ian plans to investigate insular circuits and cell types utilizing electrophysiology. Outside the lab he volunteers with a youth mountaineering organization and enjoys rock climbing and skiing in the Cascades.

Bart Jongbloets in the Mao Lab

Bart Jongbloets, Visiting Scientist
Contact: jongbloe AT ohsu DOT edu

Bart earned his Ph.D. at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, Department of Translational Neuroscience, in Utrecht, the Netherlands. During his graduate studies he identified novel roles for Semaphorin 7A, an axon guidance protein, in the adult brain. Combining his expertise in biochemistry and genetics with electrophysiology, optogenetics and 2-photon imaging, Bart investigates the heterogeneity of functional circuitry in the striatum. He joined the Mao lab in summer 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow and transitioned to his current visting scientist position in 2020. Outside the lab, Bart enjoys testing new cooking protocols and kitesurfing.

Michael Muniak with his record collection

Michael Muniak, Assistant Staff Scientist
Contact: muniak AT ohsu DOT edu

Michael joined the Mao lab at the start of 2019 as an assistant staff scientist. He was raised in the hinterlands of northern Michigan before spending ten years in Baltimore, MD, where he earned both his B.A. (2005) and Ph.D. (2011) from Johns Hopkins University under the mentorship of Prof. David Ryugo. He then followed Prof. Ryugo to the antipodes, continuing his research on the structure and function of central auditory pathways as a postdoc at the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia. He will now apply his expertise on reconstructing and objectively characterizing neural circuits to the central nervous system. Beyond the bench, Michael maintains an ever-growing record collection that stretches common definitions of music, supports the experimental arts community, and enjoys exploring the outdoors with his partner.

Maozhen Qin in the Mao and Zhong Labs

Maozhen Qin, Senior Research Assistant and Lab Manager
Contact: qinm AT ohsu DOT edu

Maozhen obtained a bachelor's degree in nursing in China and has been working as a research assistant since 2008. She joined the Mao lab in 2011 where she quickly became the "go-to" person for genotyping, culturing slices, performing animal surgeries, and maintaining the inventory of lab supplies. Outside of work, Maozhen enjoys camping and hiking.

Daniel Schwartz

Daniel Schwartz, Research Assistant 2
Contact: schwdani AT ohsu DOT edu

Danny joined the lab in March 2021 as a research assistant. He graduated from University of Oregon in 2016 with a B.A. in Romance Languages. Danny completed postbaccalaureate classes at Portland State University where he worked as a research assistant designing nanoparticles for subcellular imaging. As a researcher in the Mao lab, he is interested in using anatomical approaches to facilitate functional circuit mapping studies. Outside the lab Danny enjoys volunteering, martial arts and the outdoors.

Haleigh Schwartz

Haleigh Schwartz, Research Assistant 2
Contact: schwarth AT ohsu DOT edu

Haleigh joined the Mao lab in June of 2021 after graduating in May with a B.S. in Biology from Northwest University. As an undergraduate, she completed research on the dynamics between virology and cellular metabolism at Northwest and participated in a neuroscience internship at the Allen Institute. Currently, Haleigh is planning on researching the vital postsynaptic density protein, PSD-95, via a novel approach to in vivo imaging of endogenous proteins. Outside the lab, she enjoys running, reading, and going on weekend trips around the Pacific Northwest.

Evan Wilson

Evan Wilson, Research Assistant 2
Contact: wilsonev AT ohsu DOT edu

Evan joined the Mao lab in April of 2021. He received his undergraduate and master’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from Missouri State University, where his research involved the development of endogenous tagging plasmids for use in the study of DNA repair proteins. At the Vollum Institute, he plans to develop and utilize viral-mediated endogenous protein labeling techniques to investigate protein dynamics in single-cell live imaging. Outside of the lab, Evan enjoys playing guitar, reveling in the splendor of nature, and exploring new cuisines.

Contact information

Lab phone number
503-494-9285

Lab location
Vollum Room 2419

Faculty support
Teresa Newton
Grants/Contracts Coordinator
Email: newtont AT ohsu DOT edu
Phone: 503-494-5458

Mailing address
Tianyi Mao Lab
Vollum Institute, OHSU
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd.
Mail code L474
Portland, OR 97239-3098

Shipping address
Tianyi Mao Lab
Vollum Institute, OHSU
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd.
Dock 4, Vollum Rm. 2419
Portland, OR 97239-3098

Vollum Institute

Tall brick building with pointed glass top with a square with picnic tables in front
3232 SW Research Drive
Portland, Oregon 97239
Name Years in Lab Lab Position Current Position
Jessica Li 2011 Summer student Biomedical Engineer/LIMS Developer, Foundation Medicine, Cambridge MA
Deniz Kusefoglu 2010–2012 Master thesis student Software Engineer, InfluxData, San Francisco
Brian Long 2010–2013 Postdoc Scientist II, Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle
Jian Qiu 2012–2013 Postdoc Research Assistant Professor, Chemical Physiology & Biochemistry, OHSU
Nicole Vollum 2013 Student Student, Munich Center for Technology in Society, Technical University of Munich
Barbara Jeannie Hunnicutt 2011–2015 Graduate Student Data Scientist
Joshua Melander 2014–2017 Research Assistant Graduate Student, Stanford University
Tess Lameyer 2017–2019 Research Assistant II Software Developer
Crystian Massengill 2018–2021 Sr. Research Assistant Graduate Student, Harvard Program in Neuroscience