Kevin M Collins

Asst. Professor

(305) 284-9058
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Research Interests

Our fundamental goal is to understand how neurons communicate in circuits to establish an appropriate level of activity that produces a robust, stable behavior. Our approach is to analyze in detail a model neural circuit that controls egg-laying behavior in the nematode C. elegans. We are taking advantage of the optical clarity and powerful genetics in this experimental system to literally watch the activity of every cell in the circuit in behaving animals using fluorescent Ca2+ reporters, and also to manipulate their activity using optogenetic tools. Using mutations and transgenes to discover and alter molecular signaling events between cells, we are determining how the complex pattern of activity in a circuit creates a coherent, regulated behavior. The neural circuit we study uses conserved, medically relevant neurotransmitters, including serotonin and acetylcholine, and we expect these studies will reveal general principles of neurotransmitter signaling and neural circuit function with applications to understanding the human nervous system and its dysfunction in disease.

Teaching Interests

I enjoy teaching students in the classroom and laboratory, focusing on core biological principles, experimental techniques, and ways of thinking rather than the memorization of facts. My goals are: (1) foster a supportive but challenging atmosphere where questions, critical thinking, and collaboration are encouraged; (2) establish a solid foundation of basic biological principles and methods, and how they can be used to creatively address interesting scientific questions; (3) develop effective written and oral communication skills; and (4) cultivate a broad interest in science and its role in society.

C. elegans is a great model system to teach students laboratory research. In my group, we develop research projects collaboratively:  designing experiments, discussing results, performing data analyses, and communicating the impact of our work in a clear, simple, and interesting way.



2006Ph.D. Biochemistry Dartmouth College
1997B.S. Biological Studies Carnegie Mellon University

Professional Experience

2014 - Assistant Professor, University of Miami, Department of Biology
2013 - 2014Associate Research Scientist, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University
2006 - 2012Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University

Honors & Acknowledgements

2019-2024, NSF CAREER (PI: Collins KM), "Regulation of reproductive behaviors by mechanosensory feedback”
2019-2023, NIH R01 (PIs: Collins KM and Koelle MR), “Neuromodulator signaling and activity in the C. elegans egg-laying circuit”
2014-2018, NIH R01 (PIs: Collins, KM and Koelle, MR), “Neuromodulator Signaling and Activity in the C. elegans Egg-laying Circuit
2012, EMBO C. elegans Neurobiology Conference, Poster Prize
2011-2012 American Heart Association, Postdoctoral Fellowship
2007-2010, NIH, Individual National Research Service Award
2003, American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Travel Award
2002-2004, NIH, Molecular and Cellular Biology Training Grant

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Neuroscience | Molecular and Cellular Biology | Behavior


Brewer J, Olson AC, Collins KM, Koelle MR "Serotonin and neuropeptides are both released by the HSN command neuron to initiate C. elegans egg laying" PLoS Genetics (2019).

Ravi B, Garcia J, Collins KM "Homeostatic feedback modulates the development of two-state patterned activity in a model serotonin motor circuit in Caenorhabditis elegans." J. Neuroscience 6283-6298 (2018).

Tang S*, Zhang Y*, Dhakal P*, Ravelo *equal contribution L, Anderson CL, Collins KM, Raymo FM "Photochemical barcodes" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 4485-4488 (2018).

Ravi B*, Nassar LM*, Kopchock R III*, Dhakal P*, Scheetz M, Collins KM *equal contribution "Ratiometric calcium imaging of individual neurons in behaving Caenorhabditis elegans. " J. Vis. Exp. (2018).

Thapaliya ER, Zhang Y, Dhakal P, Brown AS, Wilson JN, Collins K, Raymo FM "Bioimaging with Macromolecular Probes Incorporating Multiple BODIPY Fluorophores." (Bioconjugate Chemistry. 2017).

Banerjee N, Bhattacharya R, Gorczyca M, Collins KM, Francis MM "Local neuropeptide signaling modulates serotonergic transmission to shape the temporal organization of C. elegans egg-laying behavior" e100669713 (4) (PLoS Genetics. 2017).