What are the courses that
you will most likely teach at Saint Michael's College?
anatomy, neurobiology, and general biology.
What do you like most
about teaching at Saint Michael's College?
Weaver joined the faculty in January 2010
I like having direct contact
with each of my students. It is really great to see these students
explore new topics that are of interest to them and create something
important and new. My educational goal is to assist students in
achieving their potential. The small class sizes and ample
resources at Saint Michael's College make this goal easier to
What is your favorite
class to teach and why?
Neurobiology. Even though
this course is in my field of research, I really appreciate it
because of its interdisciplinary nature. Studies of the mind are
important because it directly impacts every aspect of how we
experience the world. Many fields within the liberal arts
investigate the mind from different viewpoints. I am happy that I
can bring perspectives from the natural sciences to this ongoing
Could you describe your
plans for research?
Many rhythmic behaviors
(i.e., walking, breathing, digestion, etc.) are regulated by small
networks of neurons called central pattern generators (CPG). Our
long-term goal is to investigate how neuromuscular systems involving
CPG�s have evolved to produce functional behaviors in widely varying
contexts. Our studies focus on the characterization of neurons and
muscles associated with the heartbeat system in leeches. It is
known that there are three closely-related major classifications of
leeches that have evolved very different circulatory anatomy, but as
of yet no one has made detailed comparisons of this anatomy or the
nervous system regulating blood flow in these systems.
By studying the evolution of
these CPG's and their downstream effectors (i.e., muscles), this
work will provide general principles of how adaptive behaviors are
produced by the nervous system. This work will help clarify the
functional relationship between anatomical systems and their neural
control networks. This basic knowledge will be useful in developing
a deeper understanding of neuromuscular systems in human health.
This summer, two St. Mike�s
students (Kristen Cowens, 2012; Amanda Willette, 2011) will work
with me to collect and analyze anatomical and physiological data
from local leeches obtained in the wild. We hope to present this
work both on-campus and at a regional neuroscience conference.
How does your research
enhance your teaching, and how does your teaching enhance your
My recent scholarship
involves both neurophysiology and computer modeling of biological
processes. Through this experience, Saint Michael's College is now
one of a relatively few liberal arts colleges that offers in-class
experiences recording from single neurons and small networks of
neurons, as well as working with computer models of these same
What are some of your
Cycling, skiing, computer
programming, and music production.