• Executive Associate Dean, Arts & Sciences
  • Professor, Biology
  • Phone: 979-845-6456
  • Email: mjzoran@tamu.edu
  • Office: Academic Building, 4th Floor
Mark Zoran headshot

Biography

Dr. Mark J. Zoran is a professor of biology and a neuroscien-tist. He serves as Executive Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, a position he previously held in the College of Science. He holds respective M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biology and zoology. Dr. Zoran joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1991 as a member of the Department of Biology, where he researches the development and regeneration of brain connections and how the biological clock controls those synapse, brain function and behavior. He has trained 19 graduate and 82 undergraduate student researchers through his research laboratory, which has been supported by National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation grant funds. Dr. Zoran teaches an undergraduate physiology course and has taught graduate courses in neuroscience. He also collaborates in a Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) learning community on STEM teaching professional development for graduate students interested in academic careers. Dr. Zoran has served as associate dean for graduate studies and faculty affairs in Science and as Acting Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies from 2017-2018. He is an advocate for improving diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly the advancement of women in the sciences.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., 1987, Iowa State University, Zoology, Neurobiology.
  • M.S., 1981, Illinois State University, Biological Sciences.
  • B.A., 1979, Augustana College, Biology.

Research Interests

  • Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology

    Research Summary My laboratory studies cellular mechanisms governing the formation of specific synaptic connections between neurons and their targets. These mechanisms include cell-cell recognition and target-dependent induction of the presynaptic secretion machinery. Some of our studies investigate synapse formation of identified motoneurons of the American pond snail, Helisoma trivolvis , following nerve injury in vivo and in cell culture. Since the synapse is the site of most interneuronal communication within the nervous system, an understanding of the development, regeneration and plasticity of these connections is crucial to an ultimate appreciation of neural integration and brain function.

    Neural Morphallaxis

    We also study a rare form of regeneration called neural morphallaxis in the annelid worm, Lumbriculus variegatus. This organism is ideal for examining behavioral, physiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms of development, regeneration and systems-level plasticity. We have defined the neural correlates of escape reflexes, which are reconfigured during morphallaxis. Recently we have begun investigations of synaptic molecules up-regulated specifically during morphallaxis. This model system is emerging as a valuable educational tool in the science classroom.

Selected Publications

  • Lybrand, ZR, Martinez-Acosta, VG, Zoran, MJ. Coupled sensory interneurons mediate escape neural circuit processing in an aquatic annelid worm, Lumbriculus variegatus. J Comp Neurol. 2020;528 (3):468-480. doi: 10.1002/cne.24769. PubMed PMID:31502251 .
  • Agrawal, P, Houl, JH, Gunawardhana, KL, Liu, T, Zhou, J, Zoran, MJ et al.. Drosophila CRY Entrains Clocks in Body Tissues to Light and Maintains Passive Membrane Properties in a Non-clock Body Tissue Independent of Light. Curr Biol. 2017;27 (16):2431-2441.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.064. PubMed PMID:28781048 .
  • Islam, R, Nakamura, M, Scott, H, Repnikova, E, Carnahan, M, Pandey, D et al.. The role of Drosophila cytidine monophosphate-sialic acid synthetase in the nervous system. J Neurosci. 2013;33 (30):12306-15. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5220-12.2013. PubMed PMID:23884937 PubMed Central PMC3721841.
  • Zoran, MJ, Biljana, SS, Ivana, MP. Relocation of ventricular catheter trough ventriculostomy due to congenital unilateral hydrocephalus: Nine year follow-up. Surg Neurol Int. 2011;2 :141. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.85982. PubMed PMID:22059136 PubMed Central PMC3205507.
  • Lybrand, ZR, Zoran, MJ. Rapid neural circuit switching mediated by synaptic plasticity during neural morphallactic regeneration. Dev Neurobiol. 2012;72 (9):1256-66. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20993. PubMed PMID:22021133.