PhD, University of Maryland
Professor and Associate Head, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Office: 4278A SELE
Phone: (312) 413-3020
Web Site: Thomas Park Laboratory Page
I study the neurophysiology of the African naked mole-rat. Naked mole-rats have received great attention in the past because of their unusual, insect-like social organization and their incredible longevity with lifetimes greater than 25 years. My laboratory now has identified several profound neurophysiological adaptations in this species related to surviving in a challenging environment. My research program concentrates on two main projects: Neural Adaptations to Extreme Environments and Computational Neurobiology of Orientation. The first project is based on our findings of both central and peripheral neural adaptations that allow this species to survive in a low oxygen/high carbon dioxide environment that is deadly to other mammals. The second project is based on our findings that naked mole-rats display beautiful orientation behaviors to the touch of one or more of the sparse “body whiskers” that form a grid pattern over their otherwise hairless bodies.