A headshot photo of Andrew M. Dacks.

Andrew M. Dacks, PhD

Professor, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, Department of Biology

Contact Information

PO Box 6040
53 Campus Drive
Life Sciences Building
Morgantown, WV 26506


  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Neuroscience
  • Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

Graduate Training

  • The University of Arizona, PhD Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Insect Science


  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Division of Neurobiology, University of Arizona
  • Postdoctoral Excellence in Research and Teaching Fellow, Center for Insect Science, University of Arizona
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Research Interests

Modulation of Olfactory Processing

Our physiological state has a powerful influence on nervous system function at all levels of processing. The time of day, feeding status and previous experience are all examples of physiological contexts that alter whether, and in what manner, animals respond to incoming information. One mechanism by which the nervous system alters its own activity to cope with changes in physiological context is via neuromodulation, the alteration of neuron response properties without directly inducing excitation or inhibition. By studying the physiological consequences of neuromodulation on olfactory processing in the antennal lobe (the first synapse of the insect olfactory system), my goal is to identify mechanisms implemented by the nervous system to account for physiological context.

Evolution of the Insect Brain

The explosion of insect diversity over evolutionary time has provided a laboratory in which natural selection has implemented manipulations for us. We can use comparative neuroanatomy to determine which traits represent principles of brain function and which traits represent adaptations necessary for survival in a specific environment or to take advantage of a particular resource. By comparing neuroanatomical features of the brain across insect taxa, my goal is to reveal traits that represent fundamental characteristics of the nervous system as well as adaptations that underlie the staggering behavioral complexity of insects.



  • Sampson MM, Myers Gschweng KM, Hardcastle BJ, Bonanno SL, Sizemore TR, Arnold RC, Gao F, Dacks AM, Frye MA, Krantz DE. 2020. Serotonergic modulation of visual neurons in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS Genetics. 16(8):e1009003. PMID: 32866139
  • Coates KE, Calle-Schuler SA, Helmick LM, Knotts VL, Martik BN, Salman F, Warner LT, Valla SV, Bock DD, Dacks AM. 2020. The wiring logic of an identified serotonergic neuron that spans sensory networks. J Neuroscience. 40 (33) 6309-6327. PMID: 32641403
  • Sizemore TR, Hurley LM, Dacks A. 2020. Serotonergic Modulation Across Sensory Modalities. J Neurophysiol. 123(6):2406-2425. PMID: 32401124


  • Zhang X, Coates K, Dacks AM, Günay C, Lauritzen JS, Li F, Calle-Schuler SA, Bock D, Gaudry Q. 2019. Local synaptic inputs support opposing, network-specific odor representations in a widely projecting modulatory neuron. eLife. 8:e46839. PMID: 31264962


  • Lizbinski KM, Marsat G, Dacks AM. 2018. Systematic analysis of transmitter co-expression reveals organizing principles of local interneuron heterogeneity. eNeuro. 5(5) e0212-18.2018. (featured on new research web ticker) PMID: 30294668
  • Chapman PD, Burkland R, Bradley SP, Houot B, Bullman V, Dacks AM, Daly KC. 2018. Flight Motor Networks Modulate Primary Olfactory Processing in the Moth Manduca sexta. PNAS. 115(21):5588-5593. PMID: 29735707
  • Lizbinski KM, Dacks AM. 2018. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Neuromodulation of Olfactory Processing. Front Cell Neurosci. 11:424. PMID: 29375314


  • Chapman PD, Bradley SP, Haught EJ, Riggs KE, Haffar MM, Daly KC, Dacks AM. 2017. Co-option of a motor-to-sensory histaminergic circuit correlates with insect flight biomechanics. Proc Biol Sci, 284(1859). pii: 20170339.PMCID: PMC5543211
  • Coates KE, Majot AT, Zhang X, Michael CT, Spitzer SL, Gaudry Q, Dacks AM. 2017. Identified serotonergic modulatory neurons have heterogeneous synaptic connectivity within the olfactory system of Drosophila. J Neurosci, 37(31): 7318-7331. PMCID: PMC5546105


  • Sizemore TR, Dacks AM. 2016. Serotonergic modulation differentially targets distinct network elements within the antennal lobe of Drosophila melanogaster. Sci Rep, 6:37119. PMCID: PMC5109230
  • Cropper EC, Dacks AM, Weiss KR. 2016. Consequences of degeneracy in network function. Curr Opin Neurobiol, 41: 62-67. PMCID: PMC5123929 
  • Bradley SP, Chapman PD, Lizbinski KM, Daly KC, Dacks AM. 2016. A flight sensory-motor to olfactory processing circuit in the moth Manduca sexta. Front Neural Circuits, 10:5. PMCID: PMC4754697
  • Ott BM, Dacks AM, Ryan KJ, Rio RV. 2016. A tale of transmission: Aeromonas veronii activity within leech-exuded mucus. Appl Environ Microbiol, 82(9): 2644-55.PMCID: PMC4836430
  • Lizbinski KL, Metheny JD, Bradley SP, Kesari A, Dacks AM. 2016. The anatomical basis for modulatory convergence in the antennal lobe of Manduca sextaThe Journal of Comparative Neurology, 524(9): 1859-75. PMCID: PMC4833642


  • Ott B, Cruciger M, Dacks AM, Rio RV. 2014. Hitchhiking of host biology by beneficial symbionts enhances transmissionScientific Reports. 4:5825.  PMID:25059557


  • Dacks AM, Reale V, Pi Y, Zhang W, Dacks JB, Nighorn AJ, Evans PD. 2013. A characterization of the Manduca sexta serotonin receptors in the context of olfactory neuromodulationPLoS One. 8(7): e69422. PMID: 23922709
  • Dacks AM, Weiss KR. 2013. Release of a single neurotransmitter from an identified interneuron coherently affects motor output on multiple timescales The Journal of Neurophysiology. 109:2327-2334. (Cover Article)  PMID:23407357
  • Dacks AM, Weiss KR. 2013. Latent modulation: A basis for non-disruptive promotion of two incompatible behaviors by a single network state. The Journal of Neuroscience. 33:3786-3798.  PMID:23447591


  • Dacks AM, Siniscalchi MJ, Weiss KR. 2012. Removal of default-state associated inhibition during repetition priming improves response articulationThe Journal of Neuroscience. 32:17740-17752.  PMID:23223294
  • Dacks AM, Riffell JA, Martin JP, Gage SL, Nighorn AJ. 2012. Olfactory modulation by dopamine in the context of aversive learning. The Journal of Neurophysiology. 108(2):539-50. (Cover Article) PMID:22552185


  • Martin JP, Beyerlein A, Dacks AM, Riffell JA, Lei H, Hildebrand JG. 2011. The neurobiology of insect olfaction: sensory processing in a comparative context. Progress in Neurobiology. 95:427–447.  PMID:21963552
  • Reisenman CE, Dacks AM, Hildebrand JG. (2011)  Local interneuron diversity in the primary olfactory center of the moth  Manduca sextaThe Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 197(6):653-65. PMID:21286727
  • Dacks AM, Nighorn AJ. 2011. The organization of the antennal lobe correlates not only with phylogenetic relationship, but also life history: A basal hymenopteran as exemplar.  Chemical Senses. 36(2):209-20. (Cover Article) PMID:21059697