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Siyuan Rao

Assistant Professor

Academic Background:

Ph.D:  Material Physics and Chemistry
Postdoc: Neuroengineering, Bioelectronics


Current Research:

Engineering Platform for Neural Circuits Interrogation
To understand the principles of neural circuitry mechanisms and develop effective treatments, it is essential to discover the causative link between behavioral output and cellular activity. I have been developing effective engineering tools for neural-material interfaces to investigate the dynamics of neural circuits in two main research directions: precise interventional tools for remotely controlled neuromodulation and real-time recording techniques to monitor neural dynamics. I invented a magnetic toolkit for remote neuromodulation, which allows remotely controlled release of pharmacological compounds to modulate targeted neural circuits. This chemomagnetic technique combines magnetic tools and behavioral neuroscience to enable temporally precise modulation of specific neural circuits underlying motivation and social interactions. In parallel, I am developing an optical recording system to monitor neural dynamics from multiple sites across the central nervous system in freely behaving mice with simultaneous behavioral output.

Rao, S., and Qiu, J. Material Engineering Platform for Next Generation of Neurobiological Interfaces. Accounts of Materials Research, 2021.
Sun, X.; Bernstein, M. J.; Meng, M.; Rao, S.; Sørensen, A. T.; Yao, L.; Zhang, X.; Anikeeva, P. O.; Lin, Y., Functionally Distinct Neuronal Ensembles within the Memory Engram. Cell 2020.
Park, J.; Jin, K.; Sahasrabudhe, A.; Chiang, P.-H.; Maalouf, J. H.; Koehler, F.; Rosenfeld, D.; Rao, S.; Tanaka, T.; Khudiyev, T., In situ electrochemical generation of nitric oxide for neuronal modulation. Nature nanotechnology 2020, 15 (8), 690-697.
Moon, J.; Christiansen, M. G.; Rao, S.; Marcus, C.; Bono, D. C.; Rosenfeld, D.; Gregurec, D.; Varnavides, G.; Chiang, P. H.; Park, S., Magnetothermal Multiplexing for Selective Remote Control of Cell Signaling. Advanced Functional Materials 2020, 30 (36), 2000577.
Rao, S.; Chen, R.; LaRocca, A. A.; Christiansen, M. G.; Senko, A. W.; Shi, C. H.; Chiang, P.-H.; Varnavides, G.; Xue, J.; Zhou, Y., Remotely controlled chemomagnetic modulation of targeted neural circuits. Nature nanotechnology 2019, 14 (10), 967-973.
Lu, C.; Park, S.; Richner, T. J.; Derry, A.; Brown, I.; Hou, C.; Rao, S.; Kang, J.; Moritz, C. T.; Fink, Y., Flexible and stretchable nanowire-coated fibers for optoelectronic probing of spinal cord circuits. Science advances 2017, 3 (3), e1600955.
Rao, S.; Si, K. J.; Yap, L. W.; Xiang, Y.; Cheng, W., Free-standing bilayered nanoparticle superlattice nanosheets with asymmetric ionic transport behaviors. ACS nano 2015, 9 (11), 11218-11224.
Rao, S.; Guo, Z.; Liang, D.; Chen, D.; Li, Y.; Xiang, Y., 3D Proton Transfer Augments Bio‐Photocurrent Generation. Advanced Materials 2015, 27 (16), 2668-2673.
Guo, Z.; Liang, D.; Rao, S.; Xiang, Y., Heterogeneous bacteriorhodopsin/gold nanoparticle stacks as a photovoltaic system. Nano Energy 2015, 11, 654-661.
Rao, S.; Xiu, R.; Si, J.; Lu, S.; Yang, M.; Xiang, Y., In situ synthesis of nanocomposite membranes: comprehensive improvement strategy for direct methanol fuel cells. ChemSusChem 2014, 7 (3), 822-828.
Rao, S.; Lu, S.; Guo, Z.; Li, Y.; Chen, D.; Xiang, Y., A Light‐Powered Bio‐Capacitor with Nanochannel Modulation. Advanced materials 2014, 26 (33), 5846-5850.
Rao, S.; Guo, Z.; Liang, D.; Chen, D.; Wei, Y.; Xiang, Y., A proteorhodopsin-based biohybrid light-powering pH sensor. Physical chemistry chemical physics 2013, 15 (38), 15821-15824.
Contact Info

Biomedical Engineering
240 Thatcher Road
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

Office: (413) 577-5611