Damon A. Clark, PhD, is a Tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and in the Department of Physics. He received his A.B. in physics from Princeton University, after which he spent one year as an intern and data analyst working on refugee issues in Somaliland for the International Rescue Committee. He returned to the US and received his PhD in physics at Harvard University, where he studied how the small nervous system in C. elegans encodes temperature preference behaviors. During his postdoctoral work at Stanford, he studied how early visual neurons guide behavior in the fruit fly Drosophila. His lab at Yale is interested in understanding how small networks of neurons perform sophisticated computations that guide behavior. Damon has received a Searle Scholar Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Neuroscience, and a Smith Family Award.
Our lab aims to understand how small networks of neurons perform basic neural computations. This understanding has two levels: on an algorithmic level, one can understand the mathematical operations being performed by a circuit; on an mechanistic level, one can understand how biophysical and synaptic properties generate those mathematical operations. We use visual behaviors in the model system Drosophila to investigate the roles of individual neurons in network computations. Our primary tools are detailed behavioral measurements, novel visual stimuli, genetic tools that can manipulate individual neurons, in vivo imaging of neural activity, and quantitative modeling.