Dr. Schummers received his B.A. in Neuroscience and Biopsychology from Oberlin College in Oberlin OH, where he studied the role of Neuropeptide Y in long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus. He was a Research Assistant at the University of Colorado Medical School in Denver CO, studying the effects of alcohol on LTP in the hippocampus. He received a Ph.D. in Systems Neuroscience from MIT, supported by a fellowship from the HHMI, where he combined electrophysiology and imaging to understand the processing of stimulus orientation in the visual cortex. His postdoctoral work at MIT focused on using two-photon calcium imaging to study the processing of visual information by neurons and astrocytes in visual cortex. From 2011-2018, he was a Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience in Jupiter, FL. His lab there focused on the interplay between neurons and astrocytes in the representation of visual information in the visual cortex. He joined the department of Biomedical Engineering at FIU in Fall 2018.
The research in the Visual Cortical Circuits Laboratory lies at the intersection of two fundamental questions about brain function: How is an external sensory stimulus encoded in the activity of brain cells in the cerebral cortex? How do astrocyte interactions with neurons contribute to information processing? To address these questions, the lab makes use of recent developments in non-linear microscopy, viral vector engineering and protein engineering to ask cutting-edge questions about the cellular basis of brain function. In particular, current studies apply two-photon imaging of genetically-encoded calcium indicators that have been targeted to specific brain cell types via viral vectors with specific serotypes and promoters to enable measurements of cellular and subcellular activity in both neurons and astrocytes. With these tools, we address questions about the spatial scale of visual stimulus representation within cortical neurons and astrocyte, and the temporal dynamics of brain activity that underlie visual perception. Ultimately, these studies will lay the groundwork for interventions to rescue vision in patients with compromised vision, or other neurological dysfunctions.