Ernie Hwaun

Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Neurosurgery

Ernie Hwaun works as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery in the School of Medicine under the supervision of Prof. Ivan Soltesz. Ernie received his Bachelor of Science in Physiology & Neuroscience and Master of Science in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. He then moved to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue PhD in Neuroscience. In his doctoral studies, Ernie investigated how rodents acquire memory of new locations during awake behaviors and subsequent sleep. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Soltesz lab at Stanford, he has been investigating the distinct roles of key inhibitory cell types in normal and abnormal circuit functions in mice. To explore whether neural mechanisms that support spatial memory in mammals also exist in invertebrates, Ernie has turned to octopuses, which possess the most advanced nervous system among invertebrates, with the ability to learn and navigate in open water. In collaboration with Prof. Zhenan Bao’s laboratory in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Ernie plans to employ new soft-material probes suitable to collect neural signals from behaving octopuses. With these new tools, he aims to gain insights into common fundamental neuronal mechanisms underlying spatial navigation in evolutionarily distant species living in markedly different natural environments.