Timothy Erickson

Associate Professor, Neurobiology



Bailey Hall 243


1 506 452 6193

Academic interests

  • Sensory neurobiology
  • Animal behaviour
  • Mechanosensory hair cells

Brief biography

My lab uses zebrafish as a model to study sensory hair cells – the mechanically-sensitive cells in our ears that mediate our senses of hearing and balance. Our research integrates cellular neurobiology, molecular genetics, and organismal biology to gain a more complete understanding of the connections between sensory perception, brains, and behaviour.

The mechanosensory lateral line is a hair cell-based sensory system in aquatic vertebrates that senses water motion, acting as a form of ‘distant touch’. Students in my lab study hair cells and the lateral line from various perspectives – from how these cells work at the molecular level to how zebrafish use information from the lateral line during early life behaviours. Recent projects include how the lateral line provides important sensory information during swim bladder inflation (filling up their personal floatation device) and for mediating social interactions between fish. Future projects will characterize the neural correlates of social behaviour and use a novel reporter of social cognition to discover natural products or pollutants that modulate social interactions in zebrafish.

I welcome students who are enthusiastic about integrating molecular genetics with experimental behavioural biology. If this sounds like you, please contact me about joining our team!

Courses taught

  • BIOL3323: Introduction to Neurobiology

Selected research

Venuto A and Erickson T. (2021). Evaluating the death and recovery of lateral line hair cells following repeated neomycin treatments. Life. 11(11): 1180.

Erickson T, Pacentine IV, Venuto A, Clemens R, Nicolson T. (2020). The lhfpl5 ohnologs lhfpl5a and lhfpl5b are required for mechanotransduction in distinct populations of sensory hair cells in zebrafish. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 12: 320.

Erickson T, Morgan CP, Olt J, Hardy K, Busch-Nentwich E, Maeda R, Clemens R, Krey JF, Nechiporuk A, Barr-Gillespie PG, Marcotti W, Nicolson T. (2017). Integration of Tmc1/2 into the mechanotransduction complex in zebrafish hair cells is regulated by Transmembrane O-methyltransferase (Tomt). eLife 6:e28474.

Erickson T and Teresa Nicolson. (2015). Identification of sensory hair-cell transcripts by thiouracil-tagging in zebrafish. BMC Genomics. 16(1): 842.