Associate Chair, Department of Neuroscience, Professor of Neuroscience , Fellow Center for Learning and Memory, University of Texas at AustinBiography
Dr. Harris's goal is to elucidate the structural components involved in the cell biology of learning and memory. She has quantified the basic ultrastructure of synapses in several brain regions using reconstruction from serial section transmission electron microscopy (ssTEM). Her focus has been on dendritic spines because they are the major postsynaptic targets of excitatory axons throughout the brain and because their structure and composition serve both synaptic plasticity and stabilizing homeostatic mechanisms. She has developed and maintains an NIH-supported educational website on the ultrastructure of synapses. Dr. Kristen Harris received her PhD in Neuroscience in 1982 from the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown Ohio with Dr. Timothy Teyler, when she established postnatal day 15 as the earliest age to express enduring long-term potentiation. In 1984 she completed postdoctoral research in serial section transmission electron microscopy with Dr. Dennis Landis at Harvard Medical School and Dr. John Stevens at the University of Toronto. She then became a member of the faculty in Neurology at the Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital, Boston where she remained until 1999. In 1999 she moved as tenured full professor to Boston University where she helped to establish an inter-departmental Program in Neuroscience. In 2002 she became a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar at the Medical College of Georgia where she established the Synapses and Cognitive Neuroscience Center and initiated the Human Brain Laboratory and recruited Dr. Sergei Kirov as its director. In 2006, she was recruited to the new Center for Learning and Memory at the University of Austin at Texas where she is currently Professor in Neurobiology.