Communications Biology is a hybrid journal in which our content is handled either by an In-House Editor or an Editorial Board Member. The latter is an active researcher meaning that we get the best of both worlds and are constantly evaluating our editorial processes in light of their feedback. Over the next few months, I will be featuring different members of our amazing Neuroscience Board. To kick us off, we have Dr Asuka Takeishi.
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself
I am a RIKEN Hakubi team leader (junior team leader) at RIKEN, Japan. I studied the function of caspases, cysteine proteases, during wound healing using Drosophila (fruit fly) for my Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo, Japan. I then joined the neuroscience lab at Brandeis University, USA, as a postdoc and started neuroscience studies. Specifically, I identified the mechanisms of temperature sensation and temperature-dependent behavior in C. elegans (nematode). After 7 years of postdoc training, I got a position in Japan and I’m running a lab at RIKEN since July 2019. I’m a mom of three kids at home and enjoy crafting (Origami etc...) with them.
Q: What is your current research focus?
We are currently investigating how animals integrate multiple environmental information and make behavioral decisions. Animals including humans need to prioritize the important stimuli for survival among others. It is known that each environmental cue is sensed and processed by the different neural circuits, however, we still don’t know exactly how neural circuits communicate with each other when animals sense more than two stimuli. We expose worms to temperature and odor stimuli simultaneously and are investigating neural and molecular mechanisms that weigh and balance the stimuli information to induce a proper response.
Q: What achievement are you most proud of in the last few years?
I have experienced several difficult situations that the experiment didn’t go well, but perhaps the biggest one was when I was investigating the mechanism of starvation-dependent behavior change in C. elegans for my postdoc work. We didn’t have any clue what we should do after trying and failing possible experiments on the sensory neuron that we were focusing on. I remember that my ex-boss and I were sitting together silently and wondering what we should do next (or give up the project) for a quite long time. We finally succeeded to identify the mechanism of behavior plasticity by examining the downstream neural circuit, and I’m proud of our achievement accomplished by changing our focus.
Q: Why do you serve as a board member for Communications Biology?
I enjoy reading papers of various fields, and I believe I can expand my knowledge and research view by serving as a board member for Communications Biology. I also like to talk with people in science fields, and this is a great opportunity to network with researchers and editors all over the world through the editorial and reviewing process. It is nice that I can also learn the ‘backstage’ of the publishing process, which I hope helps improve the quality of my papers.
Q: What type of content/topics are you most excited about handling?
I like to read papers on neuroscience studies that focus on the very basic brain functions. Since I have a research background in molecular biology, genetics, and calcium imaging, I’m comfortable reading papers with those assays. I’m especially excited if there is a novel or an updated technique used to achieve the paper's goal. I think such technical improvement has great potential to contribute to solving ‘the technical problems’ in various fields by being applied to another system.