Hi, I’m Sarah!

I am a behavioral neuroscientist, computer scientist, and artist currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Zhaoping Li at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.

I’m interested in understanding how individual neurons act to generate adaptive visual behaviors. I’m also interested in the genetics, neurodevelopment, and pharmacology of behavioral disorders.

I design novel behavioral experiments using a combination of open-source software and engineering, and use them to probe the function and structure of the brain.

Education

PhD Biology (2019)
University of Oregon, Institute of Neuroscience
MA Psychology (2014)
Humboldt State University, biological psychology
BS Biology, BS Psychology (2011)
Southern Oregon University, biomedicine, cognitive psychology, chemistry minor

Publications

Stednitz SJ, Washbourne P. (2019). The development of social behavior. Chapter in The Behavior Genetics of Zebrafish. In press.

Stednitz SJ, McDermott EM, Ncube D, Tallafuss A, Eisen JS, Washbourne P. (2018). Forebrain control of behaviorally-driven social orienting in zebrafish. Current Biology.

Blanco-Sánchez B, Clément A, Fierro J, Stednitz SJ, … Westerfield M. (2018) Grxcr1 promotes hair bundle development by destabilizing the physical interaction between the Harmonin and Sans Usher syndrome proteins. Cell Reports.

Stednitz SJ, Freshner BC, Shelton S, Shen T, Black D, Gahtan E. (2016) Selective toxicity of L-DOPA to dopamine transporter-expressing neurons and locomotor behavior in zebrafish larvae. Neurotoxicology and Teratology

Bass EC, Stednitz SJ, Simonson K, Shen T, Gahtan E. (2014) Physiological stress reactivity and empathy following social exclusion: a test of the defensive emotional analgesia hypothesis. Social Neuroscience

Research Presentations

Original research presented at the following:
Society for Developmental Biology, NW meeting (2018, 2019)
Friday Science Seminar Series, Southern Oregon University (2018)
Board of Trustees Meeting, University of Oregon (2017)
Alumni Association Networking Event, University of Oregon (2017)

Grants & Fellowships

Oregon Developmental Biology Collaboration Award (2017)
NIH Training Grant (T32 HD007248) (2016-2019)
Irene Hollenbeck Fellowship (2010-2011)
Ruhl Learning Fellowship (2010-2011)

Awards & Honors

Institute of Neuroscience
Neuroscience as Art Award (2019)

University of Oregon Graduate Forum
1st place panel  Ontogeny: the process of becoming (2019)
1st place panel  Making sense of animal senses (2018)
1st place poster  Forebrain control of social behavior (2017)

Society for Neuroscience
Art of Neuroscience winner (2018)

Humboldt State University
Patricia McConkey Outstanding Graduate Student (2014)

Southern Oregon University
American Association of University Women Graduate of the Year (2012)
Outstanding Graduate in Biology (2012)
Merck Award for Outstanding Student in Organic Chemistry (2011)
Outstanding Student in Principles of Biology (2011)

Professional Positions

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Department of Sensory and Sensorimotor Systems, Zhaoping Li
Postdoctoral Fellow, visual behavior and cellular neuroscience (2019-present)
University of Oregon, Institute of Neuroscience, Phil Washbourne
Graduate Research Fellow, developmental and behavioral neuroscience (2015-2019)
Graduate Teaching Fellow, human and animal physiology, programming (2014-2015)
Humboldt State University, Department of Psychology, Ethan Gahtan
Graduate Research Assistant and Laboratory Manager (2012-2014)
Graduate Teaching Intern, behavioral neuroscience (2013)
Southern Oregon University, Department of Biology, John Sollinger
Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, principles of biology (2009-2011)
Greenhouse Manager (2009-2011)
Biological Specimen Preparateur (2010-2012)

Outreach & Advocacy

Women in Graduate Studies, Outreach Chair (2018-2019)
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Leadership & Advocacy Team (2017-2018)
SOS Science Workshops, hosting at-risk teens for hands-on lab experience (2015-2016)
Neuroscience Outreach, California & Oregon public schools (2010-2019)
Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, & Mathematics, volunteer (2010)

Posters

Stednitz SJ, McDermott EM, Ncube D, Washbourne P. (2018) Forebrain control of behaviorally-driven social orienting in zebrafish. Society for Neuroscience.
Stednitz SJ, McDermott EM, Ncube D, Washbourne P. (2017) Forebrain control of reciprocal social interaction. International Zebrafish Neural Circuits & Behavior Meeting.
Stednitz SJ, Shelton S, Shen T, Black D, LaPolla N, Freshner B, Hartsuyker K, Gahtan E. (2014) Dopamine toxicity and oxidative stress in zebrafish larvae as a model of Parkinson’s disease neuropathology. Society for Neuroscience.
LaPolla N, Bishop B, Cibotti J, Stednitz SJ, Gahtan E. (2014) The emotional response to social gaze is a domain specific cognitive mechanism. Society for Neuroscience.
Bass E, Stednitz SJ, Simonson K, Gahtan E. (2013) Psychological stress reactivity and empathy following social exclusion: A test of the defensive emotional analgesia hypothesis. Society for Neuroscience.