Kristen Harris is Professor of Neuroscience and Fellow in the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of Texas at Austin. For more than two decades, her laboratory has pursued understanding of structural synaptic plasticity in the developing and mature nervous system. They have been among the first to develop computer-assisted approaches to analyze synapses in three dimensions through serial section electron microscopy (3DEM) under a variety of experimental and natural conditions. This powerful set of techniques has led to new understanding of synaptic structure under normal conditions as well as in response to experimental conditions such as long-term potentiation, a cellular mechanism of learning and memory. The body of work includes novel information about how subcellular components are redistributed specifically to those synapses that are undergoing plasticity during learning and memory, brain development, and pathological conditions including epilepsy.
Dr. Harris earned her M.S. from the University of Illinois and her Ph.D. from Northeastern Ohio University’s College of Medicine, and she did her postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital. She then served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the Medical College of Georgia, where she was Director of the Synapses and Cognitive Neuroscience Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. She has served as Councilor for the Society for Neuroscience, several NIH study sections, and external advisory boards (Northwestern University, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Janelia Farms). She has served on several editorial boards: Journal of Comparative Neurology, Hippocampus, Neuroinformatics, Brain Cell Biology, and Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. She has had more than 30 years of continuous NIH grant support and is a recipient of Javits Merit Award from NINDS and Scientific Innovations Award from the Brain Research Foundation.