Assistant Professor, Department of Cell & Systems Biology
Qian Lin is an assistant professor in the Department of Cell & Systems Biology. She received her BSc from the University of Science & Technology of China and her PhD from the National University of Singapore. Before joining the University of Toronto, she was a postdoctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University.
As a systems neuroscientist, Lin is inspired to link the abstract mind with the biological substrates. For this, she combines neural imaging and computational tools on behaving animal models to study the neural mechanisms underlying cognition. Because she believes that cognition arises from brain-wide information integration, she works with the zebrafish model to get whole-brain neurodynamics with single-cell resolution via cutting-edge microscopies. Her approach is to develop data-driven computational models that predict decisions and behaviours from neural activity and derive patterns of neural activity from the architecture.
Lin's lab aims to understand how the brain produces flexible and adaptive behaviours. The cerebellum, with a conserved layered architecture, has recently emerged as a critical region for cognitive functions. Currently, her lab focuses on the “cognitive cerebellum” by studying cerebellar microcircuits and interactions with brain-wide neurodynamics in three decision-making contexts — reward learning, social cognition and spatial navigation. They use state-of-art optical neurotechnology, virtual realities, calcium imaging, computation tools from machine learning and dynamical systems, and an array of optogenetic tools. By combining these experimental and computational approaches, she seeks general principles that govern how the brain works.