Cristina Domnisoru, a neuroscience graduate student in David Tank's laboratory and recipient of Princeton's prestigious Jacobus Fellowship, will be honored at an Awards Ceremony during Princeton University's Alumni Day 2014. The Porter Ogden Jacobus fellowship is the highest academic honor bestowed upon a graduate student, awarded annually to only four graduate students displaying the highest scholarly excellence in their graduate work.
Interested in the brain's navigation system, Cristina has used patch clamp recordings from animals navigating in virtual environments to study the mechanisms underlying grid cells. These are a type of neuron in the entorhinal cortex thought to be critical for our sense of place within the environment. Cristina discovered several properties of the membrane voltage of grid cells that were critical in distinguishing which of various theories of grid cell formation were correct. In particular, her findings ruled out a previously prominent "oscillator interference model" theory of their formation, and favored dynamical attractor models instead (Dominsoru, Kinkhabwala, and Tank,Nature, 2013).