About Craig

Craig Montell is a Distinguished Professor and holds a Patricia and Robert Duggan Chair. He received a B.A. degree from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from UCLA. After completing his postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley, he was on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, before moving to UCSB in 2013. His early honors include an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award and an American Cancer Society, Junior Faculty Award. His recent honors include Honorary Doctorate degrees from the Baylor College of Medicine, and KU Leuven, Belgium. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, and a recipient of the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award.

Why UC Santa Barbara?

It is a thrill to be part of the MCDB Department and NRI at UCSB. The broad diversity of fundamental research topics within the MCDB Department and the NRI have greatly expanded my understanding of many areas of biology. I am also thankful for the larger intellectual environment at UCSB, which includes the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, and the KITP, which hosts extraordinarily stimulating meetings at the cusp of biology and physics. It is also wonderful to part of the larger UC system, which has enabled me to learn from, and collaborate with a cadre of world-class UC scientists.

We are defining the receptors and channels that control behavior in flies, including mosquitoes that spread viral-borne disease.

Craig Monell, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
UC Santa Barbara


My research group focuses on discovering the receptors, ion channels and sensory neurons that permit animals to sense the outside world, make behavioral decisions. In addition, we are studying how an animal integrates multiple types of opposing sensory information to influence behaviors ranging from food selection, to sleep, courtship and mating, and the selection of environments with the preferred temperatures. To address these and related questions, we are focusing on the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and employ a diversity of experimental approaches, including classical genetics, behavioral assays, electrophysiological, optogenetics, thermogenetics, and chemogenetics. We are also leveraging our experience in studying Drosophila, to uncover new strategies to control the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which spreads viruses that cause disease affecting hundreds of millions of people each year.

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