Skirmantas Janusonis leads an interdisciplinary research program that investigates the dynamics and self-organization of stochastic axon systems in the brain. He received his B.S./M.S. in Biology (with an emphasis in Biophysics) from Vilnius University and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience & Behavior from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He completed his postdoctoral training at the Department of Neuroscience of the Yale University School of Medicine. In 2006, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the California NanoSystems Institute. He is a faculty member of the UCSB Neuroscience Research Institute and Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Dynamical Neuroscience. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience and is affiliated with the UCSB Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering.
The Janusonis laboratory studies brain axons that do not project to specific targets and instead travel through neural tissue in highly stochastic trajectories. A special focus is on the serotonin-releasing axons that are present in nearly all known nervous systems (including early animal forms) and that self-organize into a dense, active matrix in the mammalian brain. This research uses a broad range of interdisciplinary approaches, including advanced microscopy, transgenic mouse models, elasmobranch models, brainstem neuronal cell cultures, tunable hydrogels, theoretical modeling, and computer simulations (with supercomputing). The Janusonis group collaborates with mathematicians, physicists, and materials scientists. This novel conceptual framework can advance the understanding of mental disorders, provide new insights into the core components of all nervous systems, and potentially contribute to artificial neural networks.