Timothy S. Gardner

Work and research

En savoir plusBoston University, Department of Biology
Areas of interest
Neural circuits, vocal learning, time-frequency analysis, brain-machine interface

Current Research
The Gardner lab studies the mechanisms of temporal sequence perception and production, focussing on vocal learning in songbirds.

The song circuit produces stereotyped structure over a range of time-scales from milliseconds to tens of seconds. We ask how complex songs are assembled from elementary neural units. What are the relationships between patterns of neural activity on different time-scales?

The lab also studies information processing in auditory cortex, examining how auditory signals are transformed as they move from low to high level sensory areas. How are memories for temporal patterns formed?

To address these questions, we develop minimally invasive electrodes that provide stable neural recordings in behaving animals. We also develop high-resolution signal processing algorithms for auditory and neural time-series.

En savoir plusGardner Laboratory

"We are working to address global challenges in energy, sustainability and infectious disease by engineering microbes to synthesize fuels, electricity and materials, and by deciphering microbial mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.

Our approach blends microbial physiology, genomics technologies, and computational biology to predict and modify microbial behaviors. Our work spans the disciplines of synthetic biology, systems biology and microbiology.

Our vision. In 50 years, we believe more than 50% of our energy and consumer materials will be synthesized through renewable biological processes. Infectious diseases will be controlled globally through rapid drug design technologies, helping us to stay ahead of emerging diseases and drug resistant microbes.

Microbes are something of a double-edged sword for humankind.

They can cause debilitating or fatal infections, they can corrode metals, and they can foul pipes in homes and factories. But they are also the source of antibiotic drugs, and their metabolic capabilities offer enormous potential to address urgent needs for sustainable energy and chemical synthesis. For example, microbes can generate electricity from sewage, biofuels from farm waste, and high-tech fabrics from grains.

Microbial engineering remains a challenge. Even for the best studied organisms, such as E. coli and yeast, the outcome of genetic modifications can be unpredictable. Engineering new biosynthetic capabilities often takes years or decades of development.

To make microbial engineering faster and more predictable, we need to understand how thousands of genes in a cell work together to control microbial metabolism, to activate pathogenesis, and to defend against antibiotic stress. This understanding will unlock the full potential of microbes for biomanufacturing, and will accelerate the development of antibiotics that overcome bacterial resistance.

Selected publications

  • Guitchounts G, Markowitz JE, Liberti WE, Gardner TJ (2013) A carbon-fiber electrode array for long-term neural recording. J. Neural. Eng. 10; 046016.
  • Markowitz, JE, Ivie E, Kligler K, Gardner TJ (2013) Long-range order in canary song. PLoS Comp. Bio:9(5): e1003052.
  • Lim Y, BG Shinn-Cunningham, Gardner TJ (2012) Sparse contour representations of sound. IEEE Signal Processing Letters 19(10) 684-687.
  • Poole B, Markowitz JE, Gardner TJ (2012) The song must go on: Resilience of the songbird vocal motor pathway. PLoS ONE 7(6): e38173. 0038173.
  • Scott BB, Gardner TJ, Ji N, Fee MS, Lois C (2012) Wandering neuronal migration in the postnatal vertebrate forebrain. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(4), 1436–1446.
  • Ölveczky BP, Gardner TJ (2011) A bird's eye view of neural circuit formation. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 21(1):124–131.
  • Gardner TJ, Magnasco MO (2006) Sparse time-frequency representations. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 103,
  • Gardner TJ, Naef F, Nottebohm F (2005) Freedom and rules: the acquisition and reprogramming of a
    bird's learned song. Science 308, 1046-9.


Boston University
24 Cummington Mall

Room 402

Mailing address :
 Boston University
5 Cummington Mall

Boston, MA 02215

Phone : (347) 683-7642
E-mail : timothyg@bu.edu