PI Nigel Atkinson

How did I get the job of getting flies high for a living?

As an undergraduate at Texas A&M I studied microbiology and performed undergraduate research on Saccharomyces cerevisiae and bacteriophage lambda. I began graduate school at Texas A&M but left after my PI failed to get tenure. 

I restarted my graduate career at the Hershey Medical Center of the Penn State University. I cloned and characterized the RNA1 gene. Mutations in the RNA1 interfered with tRNA, rRNA, and mRNA processing. 

I became interested in the relationship between gene regulation and complex behavior. Yeast show very little behavior so I chose to move up the food chain to study behavior in Drosophila melanogater. 

I trained as a post-doc in the neurogenetics lab of Barry Ganeztky (UW Madison, Wisconsin). In Dr. Ganetzky's lab I learned Drosophila genetics, behavioral analysis and electrophysiology. As a post-doc I cloned the slo gene. This was the first example of a BK-type Ca2+ activated K+ channel. 

I started my own lab in January of 1991. I began by studying the transcriptional regulation of slo and the links to behavior. We have linked the slo gene to the production of drug and ethanol tolerance.