Dr. Dennis Mathew

( University of Nevada, Reno )


(775) 784-6052
  • Institution:University of Nevada, Reno
  • Departments: Biology, Integrative Neuroscience Program
  • Research Fields: Neurobiology, Sensory Neuroscience, Neural Circuits
  • Disciplines: Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Neurobiology and Neurosciences
  • Funding:NIH - National Institutes of Health


Dennis joined UNR’s Department of Biology on a tenure-track appointment in July 2014. He received tenure and was promoted to Associate professor in July 2020. He has authored numerous research and review articles in scientific journals (PubMed Bibliography). His research on the neuroscience of olfaction has been supported by NIH, USDA, and DoD grants. In addition to his position in the Department of Biology, Dennis co-directs UNR’s Integrative Neuroscience Graduate Program; he directs an NIH-ENDURE training program for undergraduate researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.


Focus. Understanding how a nervous system produces behavior is one of the great challenges of neuroscience. A significant part of this challenge is to study the various complexities that affect information flow through a neural circuit. One level of complexity relates to how neuromodulators convey information about an animal’s internal state (e.g., hunger) to affect information flow through a neural circuit to shape behavior. Understanding the basic principles of this complexity is the focus of research in the Mathew Lab.

Goal. The goal of the research in the Mathew lab is to define elements of the cellular and molecular logic by which hunger states affect information flow in the Drosophila larval olfactory circuit to shape the larva’s behavior.

Significance. This research is of great importance to humans as a subject of both basic and translational science. From a basic science point of view, clarifying the mechanisms by which an animal’s hunger shapes its behavior is vital if we are to understand how flexibility and adaptability are built into a neural circuit. Ultimately, understanding such mechanisms is fundamental for decoding how neural circuits support animal cognition and behavior. From a translational science point of view, since this research examines how the modulation of an insect’s olfactory circuit affects its navigational decisions, it could inspire new strategies to help manage insect vectors of disease. This is significant because many insect pests that transmit diseases to millions of people each year navigate toward their human hosts by primarily relying on their olfactory senses.