Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name



Biology & Earth Science


Dr. David Sheridan

First Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Bouchard

Second Committee Member

Dr. John Tansey


Isotropic Fractionator, Gliogenesis, Neurogenesis

Subject Categories

Biology | Cell and Developmental Biology


During brain development, cells can proliferate and differentiate into either neuronal or glial cells. Neuronal cells are capable of sending signals, while glial cells function to provide nutrients and structural support. The ratio of these cell types can give insight into brain function in comparative studies among species and in studies of phylogenesis and pathology. In order to complete this project in neuroscience, a new technique called the isotropic fractionator was utilized to estimate a neuronal vs. non-neuronal cell count of the rodent brain. Brains ranging from age postnatal day 1 to postnatal day 23 were dissected into 4 regions for analysis: cerebellum, cerebral cortex, midbrain, with specific focus on the olfactory bulb. Nuclei from each region were isolated and stained for analysis using fluorescent microscopy. Peak increase in cell counts began postnatal day 5 and continued until postnatal day 17. Results indicate each region contains a higher proportion of neuronal cells compared to non-neuronal cells.