Angel Kaur, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Director of Neuroscience Minor

Contact Information

  • akaur@unca.edu
  • 828-232-5154
  • 211 Zeis Hall

I am originally from New Delhi, India, where I lived until I was 18. I came to the US to attend Bryn Mawr College, just outside of Philadelphia, PA. Here, I earned my Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Biology at Haverford College, and minoring in Film Studies at Bryn Mawr. This first experience in a liberal arts environment shaped my world view, and continues to influence how I conduct my teaching, scholarship, and advising.

After completing my bachelors, I reluctantly left the Hogwartsian Bryn Mawr campus to arrive in sunny San Diego. Here, I completed my Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA under the mentorship of Dr. Lisa Stowers. During my graduate work, I investigated the role of major urinary proteins in pheromone based signaling between male mice. I found evidence that mice are able to recognize each other and undertake complex territory marking behavior based on these proteins. Analysis of their reception pattern revealed that, unlike most pheromones, these proteins activated sensory neurons in a combinatorial pattern, a mechanism typically employed by odor molecules. This finding changed the way we understand pheromone based signaling and what role experience can play in instinctual behaviors.

I arrived at UNC Asheville a few short months after completing my graduate work and joined the Biology department as a lecturer. Reentering the liberal arts environment felt like coming home, and I launched back into multidisciplinary teaching, teaching introductory and advanced courses in cell and molecular biology and neuroscience, and developing courses for the First Year Colloquium program.

I began my tenure track position as the first official Neuroscience professor at UNC Asheville in the fall of 2016, and took on the position of Program Director for the Neuroscience minor. Since then, I have developed special topics courses in neurobiology and neuropharmacology. I also routinely teach core classes in the Neuroscience, and have been working to support and expand the Neuroscience minor. In addition, I have been able to return to my love of film studies through LA178, Honors and ARTS310 course offerings which explore formal, social, and historical analyses of Neuroscience themed films. My favorite films to teach include Donovan’s Brain, Limitless, and Get Out.

Education

  • Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla (Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience)
  • A.B., Bryn Mawr College (Biology at Haverford College)

Research Interests

My cell and molecular neurobiology research lab is investigating protein aggregates involved in motor neuron cell death in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Students in the Kaur lab are working to pair specific protein mutations with their effects on motor neuron morphology, excitability, and viability. This work combines molecular biology, bacterial and mammalian cell culture, and electrophysiology. Data gathered through this work will be used to develop computational models of disease progression in collaboration with Dr. Brian Drawert (Computer Science). Students interested in joining the Kaur lab should email me to discuss our research in greater depth. I have mentored research students majoring in Chemistry, Biology, and Psychology. Graduates from the Kaur lab have gone on to medical school, graduate school, and research jobs after completing their degrees at UNC Asheville. All students who wish to join the Kaur lab must have completed BIOL136 prior to beginning work.

Classes Taught

Neuroscience Courses:

  • NEUR/PSYC216: Fundamentals of Neuroscience
  • NEUR471: Research Methods
  • NEUR480: Seminar in Neuroscience
  • ST: Neuropharmacology
  • ST: Molecular Neurobiology (with lab)
  • ST: Neurodegenerative Diseases (with lab) 

Liberal Arts Courses (Film Studies):

  • NEUR179: Neuroscience in Popular Culture
  • NEUR178: NeuroScience Fiction in Film
  • Honors Special Topics: NeuroScience Fiction
  • ARTS310: Neuroscience in Film

Biology Courses (2013-2016):

  • BIOL126: Current Topics in Biology Lab
  • BIOL136: Principles of Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL136L: Principles of Cell and Molecular Biology Lab
  • BIOL423: Molecular Biology
  • BIOL498: Undergraduate Research in Biology (ongoing)

Selected Publications

1. Luca, S.*, Nauert, E.*, Chichester, K.*, Buckner, J.*, Foo, P., Kaur, A.W. “Working Memory and Cognitive Flexibility Training May Indicate Evidence of Training Effect but Do Not Show Transfer to General Fluid Intelligence in College Students.” Impulse. 2017. Published.     *undergraduate authors
2. Kaur, A.W., Ackels, T., Kuo, T., Cichy, A., Dey, S., Hays, C., Kateri, M., Logan, D.W., Marton, T.F., Spehr, M., Stowers, L. (2014). Murine pheromone proteins constitute a context-dependent combinatorial code governing multiple social behaviors. Cell. 157 (3), 676 – 688.
3. Li, Q., Korzan, W.J., Ferrer, D.M., Chang, R.B., Roy, D.S., Buchi, M., Lemon, J.K., Kaur, A., Stowers, L., Fendt, M., Liberles, S.D. (2013). Synchronous evolution of an odor biosynthesis pathway and behavioral response. Current Biology. 23,11-20.
4. Kaur, A., Dey, S., Stowers, L. Protocol for live cell calcium imaging of dissociated vomeronasal neurons. (2013). Methods Mol Biol. 1068:189-200.