Betty Hong, PhD

2002 Hertz Fellow

Betty Hong is an assistant professor of neuroscience and a Chen Scholar at the California Institute of Technology.

Betty is interested in how animals sense cues in their environment, process that information in their brains, and then use that information to guide behaviors. She studies this problem in the context of olfaction—or chemical sensing via smell—in fruit flies, with a focus on the processing of information at synapses, the junctions where signals are passed between two neurons in the brain, and its ultimate translation to behavior. Betty became an affiliate faculty member of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech in 2015.

Synapses are a fundamental unit of computation in the brain and vary widely in their structural and functional properties. Each synapse is a biochemically complex machine, comprised of hundreds of different proteins that vary in both identity and quantity across synapses. The functional significance for most of these differences in molecular composition are poorly understood. The goal of the Hong lab is to understand how molecular diversity at synapses gives rise to useful variation in synaptic physiology, and how this may reflect the specialization of synapses to perform specific useful computations in their respective circuits.

Graduate Studies

Harvard University
Functional Significance of Neuronal Activity-Dependent Transcriptional Regulation in the Nervous System

Undergraduate Studies

California Institute of Technology