Divya Sitaraman, Ph.D Faculty Profile

Divya  Sitaraman, Ph.D

Assistant Professor

Department of Psychology

Divya Sitaraman: B.S., 2001, University of Delhi; M.S., 2003, Indian Institute of Technology; PhD., 2010, University of Missouri.

Dr. Sitaraman joined the Department of Psychology in Fall 2019. Before joining the faculty at CSUEB, Dr. Sitaraman worked as an Associate Research Scientist and Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University and Janelia Research Campus at HHMI (2010–2014) and then as an Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences at University of San Diego (2014–2019). Dr. Sitaraman is a behavioral neuroscientist and uses an interdisciplinary approach in understanding the genetic, cellular, and circuit basis of innate and learned behaviors in invertebrate and vertebrate animal models. The current interests of the Sitaraman lab include neuronal circuits regulating sleep and arousal and how they affect learning and decision making. Dr. Sitaraman's teaching interests include Physiological Psychology, Research in Physiological Psychology, Behavioral Genetics, Behavioral Neuroscience, Comparative Psychology, Animal Behavior and Experimental Psychology.

Research:
The specific research interests of the Sitaraman lab are as follows:


  • Innate and learned behaviors: Nervous system plasticity is best manifested at the level of behaviors. An important focus area in the lab is to develop and validate novel classical and operant learning paradigms. In addition to developing these paradigms, the lab has an active interest in studying innate behaviors such as sleep and arousal.
  • Genetic basis of behavior: A variety of neurogenetic techniques in the context of learning and sleep have identified neurotransmitter and neuropeptide modulators that underlie these behaviors. Beyond these modulatory signals, circuit level interpretation of behavior in Drosophila is severely lacking. As a first step in cracking the neuronal pathways underlying the sleep circuit, the lab is invested in identifying the individual neurons of the circuit. To this end Dr. Sitaraman has an active collaboration with Dr. Gerry Rubin at Janelia Research Campus/HHMI ( Janelia Visitor Project 2014-present) to develop strategies and test cell specific tools in the context of sleep regulation.
  • Cellular/ Circuit level dynamics of behavior: Cellular excitability and synaptic function in behavioral control networks of the fly can only be addressed with novel imaging and electrophysiological approaches. Using validated calcium imaging and novel voltage imaging approaches in Drosophila the Sitaraman lab hopes to identify the properties of synaptic connectivity and plasticity underlying innate and learned behaviors.

  • PhD, University of Missouri
Fall Semester 2021
Course #SecCourse TitleDaysFromToLocationCampus
PSYC 32003Physiological PsychologyMF12:00PM1:40PMWEB-SYNCHOnline Campus
PSYC 32005Physiological PsychologyMF10:00AM11:40AMWEB-SYNCHOnline Campus

Peer-Reviewed Publications (* Undergraduate Student Co-authors)
1) Gerber B, King E and Sitaraman D. Biographical sketch of Dr. Troy Zars (1967-2018). 2020 Mar;34(1):2-4. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2020.1716749.

2) Sitaraman D and Laferriere H. Finding a place and leaving a mark in memory formation. J Neurogenetics 2019 Dec 27:1-7. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2019.1706094. Corresponding author with CSU affiliation

3) Driscoll M*, Hyland C and Divya Sitaraman#. Measurement of Sleep and Arousal in Drosophila. Bioprotocols (Vol 9, Iss 12, June 20, 2019) Corresponding author

4) Pavin A*, Fain K*, DeHart Allison* and Sitaraman D#. Aversive and Appetitive learning in Drosophila larvae: A simple and powerful suite of laboratory modules for classroom or open-ended research projects.
Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 2018 (June 2018). Corresponding author

5) Sitaraman D, Kramer E*, Kahsai L, Ostrowski D and Zars T. Discrete Serotonin Systems Mediate Memory Enhancement and Escape Latencies after Unpredicted Aversive Experience in Drosophila Place Memory. Frontiers of Systems Neuroscience 2017
6) Chen D*, Sitaraman D, Chen N, Jin X, Han C, Sun M, Baker B, Nitabach M and Pan Y. Genetic and neuronal mechanisms governing the sex-specific interaction between sleep and sexual behaviors in Drosophila. Nature Communications 2017. Corresponding author.

7) King A, Barber A*, Smith A, Dreyer A, Sitaraman D, Nitabach M, Cavanaugh D, and Sehgal A Peptidergic Circuit Links the Circadian Clock to Locomotor Activity. Current Biology 2017

8) Sitaraman D, Aso Y, Rubin G, Nitabach M. Control of sleep by dopaminergic inputs to the Drosophila mushroom body. Frontiers of Neural Circuits 2015

9) Sitaraman D, Aso Y, Chen N, Felix M*, Rubin G, Nitabach M. Propagation of homeostatic sleep signals from synaptic microcircuits of the Mushroom Body. Current Biology 2015. Featured in a Dispatch Article

10) Aso Y, Sitaraman D, Ichinose T, Kaun K, Vogt K, Belliart-Guérin G, Plaçais P, Robie A, Yamagata N, Schnaitmann C, Rowell W, Johnston R, Ngo T, Chen N, Korff W, Nitabach MN, Heberlein U, Preat T, Branson K, Tanimoto H, Rubin GM. Mushroom body output neurons encode valence and guide memory-based action selection in Drosophila. Elife 2014 Dec; 23(4)11) Sitaraman D, LaFerriere H, Birman S, Zars T. Serotonin is critical for rewarded olfactory short term memory in Drosophila. J Neurogenetics. 2012 Jun; 26(2): 238-44.

12) Sitaraman D, Zars T. Lack of prediction for high-temperature exposures enhances Drosophila place learning. J Exp Biol. 2010 Dec 1; 213(23): 4018-22. Article featured in a news and view article in Inside JEB. Nominated for Outstanding Paper of the Year Award

13) Sitaraman D, Zars M, Zars T. Place memory formation in Drosophila is independent of proper octopamine signaling. J Comparative Physiology A. 2010 Apr; 196(4):299-305

14) LaFerriere H, Guarnieri DJ, Sitaraman D, Diegelmann S, Heberlein U, Zars T.Genetic dissociation ofethanol sensitivity and memory formation in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics. 2008 Apr; 178(4):1895-902.

15) Sitaraman D, Zars M, Laferriere H, Chen YC, Sable-Smith A, Kitamoto T, Rottinghaus GE, Zars T. Serotonin is necessary for place memory in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 8;105(14):5579-84.

16) Sitaraman D, Zars M, Zars T. Reinforcement pre-exposure enhances spatial memory formation in Drosophila. J Comparative Physiology A. 2007 Aug; 193(8): 903-8.


Accepted Pre-print
17) Dopamine neurons promotes wakefulness via the DopR receptor in the Drosophila mushroom body. Margaret Driscoll, Steven Buchert, Victoria Coleman, Morgan McLaughlin, Amanda Nguyen, and Divya Sitaraman.
doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.29.069229

SELECTED CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS (22 out of 35, * Undergraduate student)


1) Margaret Driscoll*, Victoria Coleman*, Austin Pavin*, Jade Bove* and Divya Sitaraman (Nov 2019) Dopamine modulation of sleep is independent of feeding. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington DC.
2) Amanda Nguyen*, Bridget Fitzgerald, Elena Bauer, Veronica Ramirez* and Divya Sitaraman (April 2018) Octopamine regulation of sleep and arousal. Drosophila Meeting, San Diego
3) Bridget Fitzgerald, Elena Bauer, Veronica Ramirez* and Divya Sitaraman (Nov 2016) Octopamine regulation of sleep and arousal. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, San Diego
4) Bridget Fitzgerald, Elena Bauer, Veronica Ramirez and Divya Sitaraman (April 2017) Octopamine regulation of sleep and arousal. Creative Collaborations
5) Margaret Driscoll*, Austin Pavin*, Jade Bove* and Divya Sitaraman (April 2017) Dopamine modulation of sleep and feeding. Creative Collaborations
6) Shalin Shah* and Divya Sitaraman (April 2017) Sleep deprivation influences egg-laying decision making in Drosophila. Creative Collaborations
7) Luke Muskett*, Shalin Shah* and Divya Sitaraman (April 2017) Dopamine modulation of egg laying in Drosophila. Creative collaborations.
8) Veronica Ramirez* and Divya Sitaraman (Nov 2016) Octopamine regulation of sleep and arousal. SACNAS Annual meeting, Long Beach. Veronica was also awarded a travel grant by SACNAS to attend the conference and present her findings.
9) Luke Muskett*, Shalin Shah* and Divya Sitaraman (Nov 2016) Dopamine modulation of egg laying in Drosophila. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, San Diego
10) Margaret Driscoll*, Austin Pavin*, Jade Bove* and Divya Sitaraman (Nov 2016) Dopamine modulation of sleep and feeding. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, San Diego.
11) Austin Pavin* and Divya Sitaraman (October 2015) Dopamine modulation of sleep and feeding in Drosophila. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Chicago.
12) Ally Eash* and Divya Sitaraman (April 2015) Dopamine modulation of Decision making in Drosophila. Creative Collaborations, University of San Diego
13) Kevin Fain* and Divya Sitaraman (April 2015) Synaptic mechanisms underlying learned behaviors in Drosophila larvae. Creative Collaborations, University of San Diego
14) Divya Sitaraman, Gerald M Rubin, Nan Chen*, Yoshinoro Aso, and Michael Nitabach (June 2015) Neural circuit of sleep and arousal in Drosophila. Annual Sleep Meeting, Seattle, WA
15) Mario Felix*, Nan Chen*, Yoshinoro Aso, and Michael Nitabach (June 2015) Neural circuit of sleep and arousal in Drosophila. Annual Sleep Meeting, Seattle, WA
16) Divya Sitaraman, Gerald M Rubin, Yoshinoro Aso, and Michael Nitabach (June 2015) Neural circuit of sleep and arousal in Drosophila. Annual Sleep Meeting
17) Divya Sitaraman, Gerald M Rubin, Yoshinoro Aso, and Michael Nitabach (April 2014) Neural circuit of sleep and arousal in Drosophila, Janelia Research Campus.
18) Divya Sitaraman and Michael Nitabach (February 2012) Neuropeptidergic regulation of sleep/wake in Drosophila, Janelia Research Campus.
19) Divya Sitaraman, Melissa Zars and Troy Zars (2008) Reinforcement signaling in Drosophila Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting Washington DC, USA (Poster Presentation).
20) Divya Sitaraman, Melissa Zars and Troy Zars (2008) Reinforcement signaling in Drosophila Neurofly Meeting Wuerzburg, Germany (Poster Presentation).
21) Divya Sitaraman, Alex Sable-Smith and Troy Zars (2007) Serotonin is necessary for place memory in Drosophila. International Congress of Neuroethology, Vancouver BC, Canada (Poster Presentation).
22) Divya Sitaraman, Melissa Zars and Troy Zars (2006). ABC's of place learning in Drosophila Neurofly Leuven, Belgium

Ongoing:

1) Principal investigator                 

NSF CAREER: Mechanistic dissection of sleep and behavioral arousal: A model system approach to interdisciplinarity in neuroscience research and education (Federal) 2021-2026: Awarded ($750,000)

2) Principal investigator
1R15GM125073-01, National Institute of General Medical Sciences National Institute of Health (Federal), 09/01/17-08/30/2021
Dopamine regulation of sleep and arousal (Grant transferred to CSU-East Bay) Award Amount: $366,409

3) Principal investigator
JVS930400, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 09/15/14- Present (Foundation)
Neural circuits underlying sleep and arousal in Drosophila Award Amount: $50,000

4) Faculty Research Grant, University of San Diego 08/24/14-07/30/18 (Internal)
Dopamine regulation of sleep and feeding in Drosophila
Award Amount: 4 course reassignments ($28,000) and $4000 in supplies for 4 years

5) Principal  investigator
Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience Equipment Loan Program (Scientific Society)
11/15-04/17

6) Teaching and Learning Grant, University of San Diego 08/24/14-07/30/18
Development and implementation of course based research experiences in Neuroscience Award Amount: $1000/ year (4 awards 2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2018-2019)
Pending:


Completed:
01/11-08/14: Peptide modulation of physiology and behavior. R01 GM098931-04. Role: Post-doctoral Fellow. 08/11-01/13: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship supported by HHMI visitor program in the lab of Dr. Gerald Rubin and Dr. Michael Nitabach. Neural control of sleep and wake in Drosophila.
05/02-05/04: CSIR/UGC Govt of India, Department of Biotechnology (Stipend) Undergraduate Research: Tau-tubulin interaction in Alzheimers disease