Rachel Wilson is a neuroscientist known for her contributions to cellular and systems neurophysiology. Her research focuses on the relationship between cellular biophysical properties and neural network computations. Wilson was born and raised outside of Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated from Harvard College in 1996 with a degree in chemistry and from the University of California San Francisco in 2001 with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology until 2004, when she joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School. She is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a Blavatnik National Laureate, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Research Interests

My colleagues and I aim to understand the neural computations that occur in sensorimotor integration and navigation, and to describe the biophysical mechanisms underlying these computations. Using Drosophila melanogaster as a model, we combine in vivo electrophysiology with functional imaging, behavioral observations, genetic manipulations, analysis of connectome data, and mathematical modeling. Our approach revolves around three key questions: (1) What neural computations occur at successive layers of a neural network? (2) What mechanisms implement these neural computations? (3) How do these particular neural computations (and their implementation) help us understand the behaviors that engage these networks, as well as the constraints that shaped these networks and behaviors?

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Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience