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Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies, Neuroscience

Laura Magnotti

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies, Neuroscience

Lecturer on Neuroscience

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Additional Information

Laura’s office is in the Biological Labs (BioLabs) Building, suite 5010. This is on the fifth floor of BioLabs, closest to the Divinity Ave entrance of the building, (see map below). Come by for a visit!


Office Hours: by appointment

Personal Statement

I have an undergraduate degree in Biological Basis of Behavior and History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. I then came to Harvard to complete a PhD in Neurobiology and never left. As a graduate student, I studied gap junctional intercellular communication between oligodendrocytes and astrocytes and its role in the formation and maintenance of myelin. Afterwards, I switched gears and worked with a novel source of adult neural stem cells in an attempt to understand their differentiation potential and investigate possible therapeutic applications.

I currently serve as one of the three academic advisors for the 300+ undergraduate students who are concentrating in Neuroscience. It’s a really fantastic experience to watch these students as they work towards their goals and accomplish some amazing things along the way. I’m just happy that they let me along for the ride!

I have also designed and taught several courses of my own. The first was a Neurobiology tutorial (Neurobio 95hfp) called Designer Neurons: How Cell Types are Generated in the Nervous System and the Laboratory. The main goal of this course was to teach the students how to read and analyze primary literature. To accomplish this, we explored the current state of knowledge about the role of stem cells in nervous system development as well as how we can use that knowledge in the lab for therapeutic purposes. The second was a seminar course (Neuro 170) called Brain Invaders: Building and Breaking Barriers in the Nervous System, which I currently teach each spring. In this course, the students learn about the defense systems that the nervous system has in place to keep out invaders, ways in which various pathogens have evolved to breach those defenses, and how we can translate those mechanisms to the lab. Additionally,  I teach two courses at Harvard Extension School. Most recently, I’ve started teaching in the pre-college summer program, where high school students learn about neuroscience through hands-on activities. Finally, I’ve also taught neuroscience to students in Bangalore and New Delhi, India, and to Native American high school students at HMS.

Outside of the classroom/lab, you can usually find me at the pottery studio, paddling on a dragon boat, or traveling around the world. I also enjoy outdoor activities (hiking, camping, etc.), genealogy, reading, baking, and cheese making. The rest of my time is spent trying to survive as a Yankee fan in the middle of Red Sox territory.