Darcy's research combines advances in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and statistics to develop novel optical methods to observe and modulate neuronal activity to answer a variety of questions. For example, what characterizes the spatiotemporal patterns of neural activity, and what do these patterns mean? Is the activity redundant, distributed, and robust? How does the network generate them? The brain contains a dizzying array of cell types defined, in part, by molecular expression. Recent progress can now allow for the both detailed monitoring of neural activity during behaviors, along with post-hoc spatially resolved genomics and proteomics. Darcy is excited about connecting functionally defined classes of cells, and their activity and changes during development and learning, to their underlying expression profiles. To do that, he is focused on "task-based" imaging - the joint optimization of hardware and algorithms to create imaging systems designed to optimally perform specific measurements. These systems are not necessarily designed to produce aesthetic images, but rather to record maximal information with respect to the desired task.
Dr. Peterka received an A.B. in Mathematics from Cornell, a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from UC Berkeley, and throughout his Ph.D and after, had spent significant time at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. He has been at Columbia since 2008, and at the Zuckerman Institute since 2015, where he is a Senior Scientist, and the Director of Team Science and Cellular Imaging. He is also a member of the Neurotechnology Center, and the Kavli Institute of Brain Science at Columbia.