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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Juliet T Gopinath
  • (303) 492-5568
  • Victor M Bright
  • John P Crimaldi
Award Date:09/16/2019
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 1,093,512
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 1,093,512
  • FY 2019=$1,093,512
Start Date:09/15/2019
End Date:08/31/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: NCS-FR: Shedding light on brain circuits mediating navigation of the odor plume in a natural environment
Federal Award ID Number:1926668
DUNS ID:007431505
Parent DUNS ID:007431505
Program:IntgStrat Undst Neurl&Cogn Sys
Program Officer:
  • Kurt Thoroughman
  • (703) 292-7281

Awardee Location

Street:3100 Marine Street, Room 481
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Colorado at Boulder
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

Animals have a keen ability to find odor sources such as food, partners, pups and predators through the sense of smell in a manner that cannot be replicated by machines. How brains mediate navigation of the environment (the odor plume) through smell is an important unsolved problem. Indeed there are many instances where using machines to navigate an odor landscape is an unmet need to society. For example, even though their training requires lengthy one on one interaction with a trainer, dogs are still used to find explosives in airports and in the battlefield. Our multidisciplinary Odor Plume Neurophotonics (OPeN) team will tackle understanding the brain circuits mediating odor plume navigation. This is a daunting task because it involves characterizing how odors diffuse in the air (environmental engineering), developing advanced miniature microscopes to record from the brain of freely moving animals (electrical and mechanical engineering), recording from brain regions processing odor plume information in real time (systems neuroscience and integrative neurophotonics), and developing mathematical procedures to quantify how the information necessary for successful odor plume navigation is represented in the brain (applied mathematics). Our team will engineer a novel miniature microscope to record activity as mice navigate the odor plume and will assess how the activity of these neurons result in successful odor plume navigation. Furthermore, the team members of OPeN are thoroughly committed to foster advancement of women, underrepresented minorities, veterans and disabled individuals in science and participate in various programs to promote science diversity. Additionally, the team members have a track record of disseminating their work and have an established partnership with a local small business, Intelligent Imaging Innovation, Inc. with world headquarters located in Denver. We will continue our commercial dissemination efforts of the technology developed in this project. Finally, we will endeavor to communicate science to the broader audience through venues such as Scientific American, Public Broadcasting Service and outreach through the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Members of our OPeN interdisciplinary team developed a novel two photon fiber-coupled microscope for 3D imaging of brain activity in the freely moving mouse and generated and quantified realistic odor environments in the laboratory to explore algorithms used for odor-guided navigation. In this project we leverage the extensive expertise and achievements of the team to crack the circuit basis for odor plume navigation. We will develop a low-weight, miniature 3-photon fiber coupled microscope (3P-FCM) to record neuronal activity simultaneously in one brain area in two planes of view. In addition, OPeN will develop a portable photoionization (PID) sensor to detect the odorant concentration at the nostril as the animal navigates the odor plume. Members of the OPeN team will record neural activity in the hippocampus and cerebellum of animals navigating the odor plume and will develop a Bayesian analysis method to decode odor plume navigation from neural activity. This multidisciplinary approach will result in understanding of the brain mechanisms of odor plume navigation. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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