Northwestern University neurobiologist Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy has been named a 2015 Beckman Young Investigator by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

She and her research team plan to use the $750,000 grant to discover how neuromodulatory systems work together to support the palette of complex behaviors that characterizes humans and other vertebrates.

Kozorovitskiy, an assistant professor of neurobiology in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is the university’s first recipient of the prestigious award in more than a decade. She is one of eight nationwide to receive the honor this year.

Established in 1991, the Beckman Young Investigator Program is intended to provide research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers in the chemical and life sciences. It is particularly designed to foster the invention of methods, instruments and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.

“The key to overcoming the long-standing challenges in neuromodulation is the creation of tools and approaches that combine the strengths of biological, engineering and computational disciplines,” Kozorovitskiy said. “Thanks to the support of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, my team and I will be able to do just that.”

The brain is composed of intricate circuits of neurons that communicate via electrical signals. The slower signals that function on the order of milliseconds to hours are known collectively as neuromodulation. Humans would be unable to pay attention, move, eat, sleep or love without these signals, but relatively little is known about them compared to fast neurotransmission.  

To answer fundamental questions in neuromodulation, Kozorovitskiy will bring together multiple new optical microscopy techniques and classical technologies in neuroscience, such as electrophysiology and anatomical and computational approaches.

“We welcome Yevgenia as a new member of our BYI program,” said Anne Hultgren, executive director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. “We sincerely hope that this award will help her as she starts a successful research career.”

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