Our work on maze learning in aging worms is featured in Simons Foundation News!

Eleni was interviewed about her work on C. elegans‘ maze learning ability and the effect of aging. Our findings are included in an article for Simons Foundation News, published online last May (writer: Jennifer Michalowski). So exciting to see our work listed among the contributions of so many acclaimed researchers!

(image copied from Simons Foundation News webpage, Credit: Klaus Kremmerz)

Our group at the 2021 International C. elegans Meeting

We look forward to the 2021 International C. elegans Meeting! This time virtually, but still excited to meet again fellow C. elegans researchers. Eleni will present the group’s two posters:

C. elegans learning strategy in T mazes and aging related interventions: Jun 22, 2021, 2:45-3:45 PM (EDT)
3-dimensional behavioral arenas for C. elegans: Jun 23, 2021, 2:30-3:30 PM (EDT)
(posters pdf files and audio voice-overs will be posted here on Wednesday, Jun 23)

Our new project: SoniCelegans-and beyond!

A new, fascinating, interdisciplinary project, in collaboration with Michael Gurevich, Associate Professor of Performing Arts Technology.

The overarching theme of this project is to explore the concepts of learning, memory, neuronal networks, navigation, spatial orientation in an interdisciplinary way that bridges two research fields that are traditionally considered distant: experimental neurobiology and sonic arts. Our project is supported by ArtsEngine.

Find out more here.

Our work at the Annual Geriatrics Center Research Symposium

On Monday, May 3rd from 9:00am-12:00pm the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center will be holding the annual Geriatrics Center Symposium-virtual. Eleni will be presenting our key findings on “C. elegans maze learning through the prism of aging”. 

Join Zoom Meeting


Links for KeynoteFlyer and Symposium-Schedule.

Our group at the 8th Midwest C. elegans meeting!

Today, Friday April 23, the 8th Midwest C. elegans Meeting took place, for the first time virtually, due to covid-19 restrictions. We are grateful to the organizers for an impeccable and fascinating event! 

Our group participated with two presentations:

~ Schiavone Maria*, Zhang Zhaoyuan*, Gourgou Eleni: “Multiple event-based and bipedalism-inspired analysis of C. elegans locomotion”. *: authors with equal contributions.

~ Fretz Abrielle*, LaMonica Allison*, Goettemoeller Anne, Chen Chieh, Hsu Ao-Lin, Gourgou Eleni: “Aging-related genetic interventions in C. elegans maze learning”. *: authors with equal contributions.

Maria, Zhaoyuan, Brie, and Allison, did a great job presenting their findings. We are all very proud of them!

You can find the schedule, including the abstracts, here.

Eleni is the winner of 2021 Willie Hobbs Moore Aspire, Advance and Achieve Award!

Eleni  has been selected as the recipient of the U-M Women in Science and Engineering 2021 Willie Hobbs Moore Aspire, Advance and Achieve Award! Dr. Moore was a three-time alumna of U-M, a lifelong advocate, and the first African American woman in the US to earn a PhD in Physics. This award recognizes individuals who have served as an outstanding formal or informal mentor to students. 

Eleni was selected for this award “because of [her] outstanding efforts to support the professional advancement of [her] many graduate and undergraduate student researchers and commitment to recruit students underrepresented in STEM”.

We are very excited and deeply honored.

Find out more about WISE.

Find out more about Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore here, here and here.

Also on ME Dept news page.

C. elegans maze learning paper accepted!

Our manuscript titled Caenorhabditis elegans learning in a structured maze is a multisensory behavior, by Gourgou E., Adiga K., Goettemoeller A., Chieh C., and A-L Hsu, has been accepted for publication in iScience !

In this work, we show that C. elegans nematodes learn to associate food with a combination of proprioceptive cues and information on the structure of their surroundings (maze), perceived through mechanosensation. By using the custom-made Worm-Maze platform, we demonstrate that C. elegans young adults can locate food in T-shaped mazes and, following that experience, learn to reach a specific maze arm. C. elegans learning inside the maze is possible after a single training session, it resembles working memory, and it prevails over conflicting environmental cues. We provide evidence that the observed learning is a food-triggered multisensory behavior, which requires mechanosensory and proprioceptive input, and utilizes cues about the structural features of nematodes’ environment and their body actions. The CREB-like transcription factor and dopamine signaling are also involved in maze performance. Lastly, we show that the observed aging-driven decline of C. elegans  learning ability in the maze can be reversed by starvation.

Our manuscript is currently in press, and the non proof-read version is publicly available here.

Work can be cited as: Gourgou, E., Adiga, K., Goettemoeller, A., Chen, C., Hsu, A.-L.,Caenorhabditis elegans learning in a structured maze is a multisensory behavior , ISCIENCE (2021), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2021.1022

Eleni serves as a panelist at the Science as Art Competition Reception

Online; Friday, February 26, 2-3pm EST EST
FREE (Registration required)

The reception for the 2021 Science as Art Competition will feature a Faculty panel discussion followed by an awards ceremony. View the finalists and place your vote for the Science as Art People’s Choice Award!

Panelists include:
Eleni Gourgou, Assistant Research Scientist, Mechanical Engineering
Brad Smith, Associate Dean for Academic Programs; Professor, School of Art & Design; Research Professor, Department of Radiology
Matthew Thompson, Assistant Professor of Music; Associate Faculty, UM Center for Japanese Studies
Moderated by Deb Mexicotte, Managing Director, Arts Engine

More info here!