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Andrew Dacks, PhD – Assistant Professor


4202 Life Sciences Building


Biology; Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

Graduate Training

The University of Arizona, PhD Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Insect Science


Postdoctoral Research Associate, Division of Neurobiology, University of Arizona; Postdoctoral Excellence in Research and Teaching Fellow, Center for Insect Science, University of Arizona; Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Research Interests

Modulation of Olfactory ProcessingOur physiological state has a powerful influence on nervous system function at all levels of processing. The time of day, feeding status and previous experience are all examples of physiological contexts that alter whether, and in what manner, animals respond to incoming information. One mechanism by which the nervous system alters its own activity to cope with changes in physiological context is via neuromodulation, the alteration of neuron response properties without directly inducing excitation or inhibition. By studying the physiological consequences of neuromodulation on olfactory processing in the antennal lobe (the first synapse of the insect olfactory system), my goal is to identify mechanisms implemented by the nervous system to account for physiological context.



Evolution of the Insect BrainThe explosion of insect diversity over evolutionary time has provided a laboratory in which natural selection has implemented manipulations for us. We can use comparative neuroanatomy to determine which traits represent principles of brain function and which traits represent adaptations necessary for survival in a specific environment or to take advantage of a particular resource. By comparing neuroanatomical features of the brain across insect taxa, my goal is to reveal traits that represent fundamental
characteristics of the nervous system as well as adaptations that underlie the staggering behavioral complexity of insects.

Lab Personnel

Jing Wang

Research Technician

2013 MSc Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering, Syracuse University

2009 BSc Biology, Wuhan University

Ayad Auda

Graduate Student

2010 BSc, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Aleppo

Kristyn Lizbinski

Graduate Student

2013 BS, Neuroscience and Philosophy, University of Scranton

Kaylynn Coates

Graduate Student

2012 BSc, Biology, Westminster College

Tyler Sizemore

Graduate Student

2014 BSc, Biology, West Virginia University

Cory Pittman

Undergraduate Researcher

Sarah Michaels

Undergraduate Researcher

Cole Michael

Undergraduate Researcher

Rachel Montgomery

Undergraduate Researcher


Former Lab Members

Sarah Freeman – Research Technician in lab of Dr. Sergyi Yakovenko at WVU

Aditya Kesari – Attending WVU

Lukas Meadows – Attending WVU Medical School

Jackie Metheny – Research Associate at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Stephen Sinclair – Attending WVU Medical School

Sidney Sisson – Attending WVU Medical School



  • Chapman PD, Bradley SP, Haught EJ, Riggs KE, Haffar MM, Daly KC,
    Dacks AM. (2017)
    Co-option of a motor-to-sensory histaminergic circuit correlates with insect
    flight biomechanics.

    Proc Biol Sci, 284(1859). pii: 20170339.
    PMCID: PMC5543211
  • Coates KE, Majot AT, Zhang X, Michael CT, Spitzer SL, Gaudry Q,
    Dacks AM. (2017)
    Identified serotonergic modulatory neurons have heterogeneous synaptic connectivity
    within the olfactory system of Drosophila.

    J Neurosci, 37(31): 7318-7331.
    PMCID: PMC5546105[available on 2018-02-02]


  • Sizemore TR,
    Dacks AM. (2016)
    Serotonergic modulation differentially targets distinct network elements within
    the antennal lobe of Drosophila melanogaster.

    Sci Rep, 6:37119.
    PMCID: PMC5109230
  • Cropper EC,
    Dacks AM, Weiss KR. (2016)
    Consequences of degeneracy in network function.
    Curr Opin Neurobiol, 41: 62-67.
    PMCID: PMC5123929 [available on 2017-12-01]
  • Bradley SP, Chapman PD, Lizbinski KM, Daly KC,
    Dacks AM. (2016)
    A flight sensory-motor to olfactory processing circuit in the moth Manduca sexta.
    Front Neural Circuits, 10:5.
    PMCID: PMC4754697
  • Ott BM,
    Dacks AM, Ryan KJ, Rio RV. (2016)
    A tale of transmission: Aeromonas veronii activity within leech-exuded mucus.
    Appl Environ Microbiol, 82(9): 2644-55.
    PMCID: PMC4836430


  • Lizbinski KL, Metheny JD, Bradley SP, Kesari A,
    Dacks AM. (2016)
    The anatomical basis for modulatory convergence in the antennal lobe of Manduca
    The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 524(9): 1859-75.
    PMCID: PMC4833642


  • Ott B, Cruciger M,
    Dacks AM, Rio RV.  (2014)
    Hitchhiking of host biology by beneficial symbionts enhances transmission.
    Scientific Reports. 4:5825.


  • Dacks AM, Reale V, Pi Y, Zhang W, Dacks JB, Nighorn AJ, Evans PD. (2013)
    A characterization of the Manduca sexta serotonin receptors in the context of
    olfactory neuromodulation
    PLoS One. 8(7): e69422. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069422.
  • Dacks AM, Weiss KR. (2013)
    Release of a single neurotransmitter from an identified interneuron coherently
    affects motor output on multiple timescales
    The Journal of Neurophysiology. 109:2327-2334. (Cover Article)
  • Dacks AM, Weiss KR. (2013)
    Latent modulation: A basis for non-disruptive promotion of two incompatible behaviors
    by a single network state
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 33:3786-3798.


  • Dacks AM, Siniscalchi MJ, Weiss KR. (2012)
    Removal of default-state associated inhibition during repetition priming improves
    response articulation
    .The Journal of Neuroscience. 32:17740-17752.
  • Dacks AM, Riffell JA, Martin JP, Gage SL, Nighorn AJ. (2012)
    Olfactory modulation by dopamine in the context of aversive learning.
    The Journal of Neurophysiology. 108(2):539-50. (Cover Article)


  • Martin JP, Beyerlein A,
    Dacks AM, Riffell JA, Lei H, Hildebrand JG. (2011)
    The neurobiology of insect olfaction: sensory processing in a comparative context.
    Progress in Neurobiology. 95:427–447.
  • Reisenman CE,
    Dacks AM, Hildebrand JG. (2011)
    Local interneuron diversity in the primary olfactory center of the moth 

    Manduca sexta
    The Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 197(6):653-65.
  • Dacks AM, Nighorn AJ. (2011)
    TheoOrganization of the antennal lobe correlates not only with phylogenetic relationship,
    but also life history: A basal hymenopteran as exemplar
    Chemical Senses. 36(2):209-20. (Cover Article)

WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute