In-Vivo Neural Recordings of the Olfactory System of the Drosophila

The odor sensing and recognition capabilities of fruit flies remain unmatched by machine olfaction. Remarkably this capability is primarily achieved in the early olfactory system of the fly with a low-dimensional neural circuit whose connectivity and genetic make-up is well understood. Reverse engineering (system identification) of an unknown neural circuit revolves around constructing a mathematical (computational) model of the system based on its input and output. An adequately constructed model can describe the function of the circuit and predict its response to a novel stimulus.

Projects Descriptions

Projects pertain to the reverse engineering of sensory neurons in the early olfactory system of the fruit fly. They require

  • Recordings of neural spike trains of olfactory sensory neurons in the antennae of the fruit fly.
  • Recordings of neural spike trains of projection neurons in the antennal lobe of the fruit fly.


These projects require introductory background (undergraduate/graduate level) in either neurobiology or in one of the concentrations (subfields) of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Students with extensive lab experience (neurophysiology and/or hardware/software) are strongly encouraged to apply.

Ideally, qualified students meet the following (guiding) coursework requirements. Students with backgrounds in other relevant fields/departments may be accepted after assesment by Prof. Lazar.


Students have taken at least one course from the following group of courses

  • BMEB W4020 - Computational Neuroscience or equivalent.
  • BIOL W4004- Neurobiology I: Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology or equivalent.


  • Neurobiology and Behavior G9040 - Research in Neurobiology (one lab rotation) or equivalent.

or two courses from anyone of the following two groups of courses

  • ELEN E4312 - Analog Electronic Circuits or equivalent.
  • ELEN E4321 - Digital VLSI Circuits or equivalent.
  • CSEE W4824 - Computer Architecture or equivalent.


  • ELEN E4411 - Fundamentals of Photonics or equivalent.
  • ELEN E6945 - Device Nanofabrication or equivalent.
  • ELEN E6950 - Wireless and Mobile Networking or equivalent.