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Stuart Thompson

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Stuart Thompson

Stuart Thompson is a Professor in the Biology Department in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University where he specialize in cellular and systems neuroscience.

The laboratory of Stuart Thompson, using the ever-finer techniques developed by neurobiologists for probing single cells, carries out a variety of studies on the changes of cell membranes through which cells respond to the agents that control their functions. The unifying principle is that the membrane is the link between the specific agent and the specific response and that the characteristic "signature" in each case can be recorded and analyzed in terms of flows of ions which generate electrical signals. A number of the studies deal with nerve cells isolated from marine invertebrates, including sea hares and nudibranchs. A good deal of the research has a developmental orientation, emphasizing the evolving properties of nerve cells as animals develop from early stages to adults. Developing tunicates and squid available at the HMS, are the objects of these studies. Thompson's program is not confined to nerve cells, recognizing that responses of other kinds of cells implicate changes cf membranes that can be analyzed by the techniques devised by neurobiologists. His previous research examined the changes of the membranes of eggs at the time of fertilization and of lymphocytes stimulated to enter the processes of antibody production.  His laboratory and research activities are located at Stanford's marine biology research and teaching facility, The Hopkins Marine Station, in Pacific Grove, CA on beautiful Monterey Bay. My work focuses on nervous system adaptation to life in the sea.

A current passion of Stuart's  is to design and live-test new ideas in undergraduate education and pursuing this with Stanford's Freshman/Sophomore College. Since 2007, Stuart also served as Adjunct Professor in the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design (the famous,Stanford School of Engineering). where he is one of four key faculty members in a course entitled "From Play to Innovation".

Thompson has served as chair of the panel of Scientific Advisers for The National Institute for Play, a non-profit group that is exploring the science of play behavior and the importance of a healthy play lifestyle to the welfare of individuals and institutions.

Stuart maintain a website that is an effort to decipher the newest and most importance in neuroscience and present them. It is an experiment in social media intended to help non-specialists understand the rapid advances in neuroscience that are having huge impact on medicine, understanding aging and understanding the wonderful richness of our lives.