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Research groups

Olivia McGinnis

Doctoral Student in Neuroscience

Olivia studied Neuroscience at Harvard University, where she completed her undergraduate thesis research with Dr Florian Engert in 2020. There, Olivia performed detailed kinematic analyses of larval zebrafish with two-photon interrogation of neural circuits in order to understand algorithms implemented during goal-directed behaviours, specifically escape behaviour. She then joined the 4-year Doctoral Programme in Neuroscience (1+3) at Oxford as a Rhodes and Clarendon Scholar in the fall of 2020. Olivia earned her MSc in Neuroscience on this course in late 2021. During her master’s degree, Olivia rotated with Prof David Dupret and Dr Helen Barron at Oxford’s Brain Network Dynamics Unit. She investigated hippocampal and neocortical neuronal dynamics during a memory task in mice using a combination of in vivo multichannel extracellular recordings and calcium imaging. In Olivia’s second rotation, she worked in the Goodwin Group at the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour to assay egg-laying decisions in female Drosophila. Olivia officially joined the Goodwin Group as a doctoral student in October 2021, where she is studying a sexually-dimorphic neuronal cluster that processes sensory information relevant to courtship in males and egg-laying site selection in females. Her work focuses on how this neuronal cluster and related circuits interact with the mushroom body (the Drosophila brain’s hub of learning and memory) during crucial reproductive decisions, with particular interest in the role of dopamine in the underlying computations.