skip to main content

Dr. Lainy Day

Associate Professor
Neuroscience Minor Director
Department of Biology
The University of Mississippi


Office: 512 Shoemaker Hall
Telephone: (662) 915-5444

Webpage: Neuroscience


Lab Members:

    Amy L. Hibar (PhD Candidate, ABD)

Undergraduates: (Major and Minor)

    • John Aaron Howell (Honors Biochemistry, Neuroscience and Spanish)


    • Wilson Helmout (Honors Spanish, Neuroscience)


    • Roberto Perez (Psychology)


    • William Ross (Pharmacy)


    Nathaniel Webb (Honors Biology, Neuroscience)

Animal Care Staff:

    • Nathaniel Webb (Manager)


    • Chantry Belk


    Braxton Dupuy

Laboratory Staff:

    • Monica Bhula (Biological Sample Data Management)


    • Jaylin Gibson (Field Data Managment)


    Cassandra Sarcia (Neuroscience Minor Promotor, and Laboratory Assistant)

Estefania-HernandezAlumni– Current Position

      • Patrick Ayers (Undergraduate) – Obtaining a Masters of Medical Science Degree at Mississippi College
      • John Ball (Undergraduate) – University of Mississippi School of Medicine Fall 2012
      • Jed Brinsinger (Field Assistant) – Graduated BA in Psychology Gwynedd Mercy College, Worked at Eckerd Youth Alternatives
      • Chelsea Campbell (Undergraduate) – Tulane School of Public Health, MSPH, Interviewing for Doctorate of Pharmacy Positions.
      • Matthew DiGuisto (Honors Undergraduate) – The Ohio State University Medical School
      • Ashley Emerson (Undergraduate) – University of Mississippi School of Medicine
      • Sonja Gaessler (Field Assistant) – MA Biology, Studying for MA in Sustainable International Agriculture, working as an Environmental consultant.
      • Joshua Hamer (Undergraduate, MS Functional Genomics Network, McNair Student) – Masters Student, University of Mississippi, Psychology Department.
      • Amber Hancock (Undergraduate, Research Assistant) – Graduated BA University of Mississippi
      • Estefanía Hernández (Field Assistant) – BS, Universidad de Panamá, MA, Environmental Engineering, University of Argentina
      • Geoffrey Kennedy (Undergraduate)– Working for Darden, Fortune 500 Hospitality Company
      • Amarachukwu Imediegwu (SRIU student) –Rosalind Franklin Medical School, Chicago, Class of 2012
      • Megumi Mathis (Honors Undergraduate) – Working on BS at University of Mississippi
      • Aaron Pool (Undergraduate) – Graduated BS University of Mississippi
      • Nathan Parrott (Undergraduate) – Elementary Education, Real Estate, Applying to Dental School
      • Brittany Simpson (Honors Undergraduate) – University of Mississippi School of Medicine
      • William Sobecki (Undergraduate) – Graduated BS University of Mississippi
      • Gerald Stinson (Honors Undergraduate) – Pharmacy Assistant, Applying to Optometry School
      • Hillary Taylor (Undergraduate)– University of Georgia Law School Class of 2012
      • Cleotha Taylor (McNair student) – Working on BS, Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi
      • Bobby Tullos (Undergraduate)– University of Mississippi School of Medicine
      • Richard Tramel (Undergraduate, Research Assistant) –
      • Diarria Williams (Undergraduate, McNair Student) – M.S. Biology Student at Jackson State University.
      • Steven Wilkening (Masters Student) – University of Mississippi School of Medicine Fall 2012

Back to top of page

Applying to the Lab:

Day-and-StudentsApplications from graduate students and dedicated undergraduates interested in any of my research projects or similar projects of their own design are encouraged. There are frequently openings for graduate students in my lab that can be supported by teaching assistantships from the biology department. Availability of assistantships depends on funds and is competitive. Positions supported by external funds will be posted below when available. For further information about applying to the graduate school please see the Department of Biology Graduate Webpage. Undergraduates should e-mail me to set up an appointment to discuss possible projects in my lab.


I am currently seeking graduate applicants. I have partial external support for graduate students that are interested in assisting with either a writing intensive undergraduate neuroscience course or pedagogical studies aimed at improving communication between science students and preservice teaching candidates. This partial support would be in the form of a dedicated teaching assistantship that need not conflict with an alternative focus of your graduate research.

Teaching assistantships my be requested by other applicants.



Current Projects:

Manakin-CerabellumCerebellar Function, Recovery of Function, and Neurogenesis after Cerebellar Damage in Zebra Finch

Surprisingly little is known about the function of the avian cerebellum, especially in cognitive tasks such as observational learning, spatial memory, and fear conditioning. We have conducted a series of studies aimed at developing behavioral tasks for our flying bipeds as current behavioral apparatuses are made for quadrupeds, mainly rats. In order to understand the role of the cerebellum in these tasks, we lesion or temporarily inactivate the cerebellum. This also allows us the opportunity to examine how the brain heals from this damage to allow for behavioral recovery. Estrogen, typically thought of as the “female sex hormone”, plays a vital role in protecting the brain from damage and in influencing the brains ability to repair itself. Because we know that cerebellar damage increases estrogen synthesis, we are testing whether estrogen plays a role in how birds with cerebellar damage recover behaviorally and at the cellular level.

Manakin-Display- Trees-and-Bird Golden-Collared-ManakinBrain Adaptations Related To Complex Mating Displays in Manakins

Just as the beak of the finch is shaped by evolution, so to is the brain. For example, a part of the brain known to be involved in memory for locations is particularly large in bird species that hide their food in caches and later must remember these locations in order to retrieve it. We are currently investigating whether regions of the brain have adaptations for the complex physical displays manakins use in order to attract their mates. We are examining specializations in genes and morphology. The manakins, family Pipridae, live in the American tropics and produce amazing high-speed acrobatic displays. In addition to our evolutionary studies we are involved in studies that investigate the biomechanical production and hormonal regulation of the display. Some of our work involves travel to Panama in Central America and Guyana in South America.

Relationships between Sexual Differentiation of Plumage, Social Behavior, and Sex-Linked Genes

A mutation related to sexual differentiation of plumage can lead to a male plumaged bird that has female reproductive organs. This mutant bird and its offspring allow us to ask questions about how plumage is related to mate selection, alters offspring behavior, and effects nesting habits. In addition, this bird and its offspring allow for the search of genes that determine sexual differentiation of plumage in zebra finches. Lastly, we can use this mutant to determine if there is a relationship between sexual differentiation of the brain and sexual differentiation of plumage.

Hilary-Taylor-and-Amarachi-ImediegwuThe Effects of Natural Products on Motor and Cognitive Function: Do derivatives have estrogenic, stimulant, cannabinoid, or depressant like actions?

One goal of research in this area is to find compounds that have the desired effects on brain or peripheral physiology without negative impacts on learning and memory, motor coordination, or reproduction. Research in this area is performed in collaboration with the Center of Research Excellence in Natural Products Neuroscience (CORE-NPN) Behavioral Neuroscience Core. The Core is funded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as one of its Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence.
Back to top of page


Research Interests:

My interest are fairly broad but are centered on understanding the evolution, function, and neuroendocrinology of brain regions involved in spatial and motor learning, principally the hippocampus and cerebellum. Currently, I am involved in several projects that revolve around steroid induced neuroplasticity in the avian cerebellum. Click on project titles below for a full description. I maintain an interest in non-avian vertebrate models as well. I welcome inquiries from potential graduate students and dedicated undergraduates that have an interest in my research or related projects in behavioral neuroscience. For further information on joining the Day lab follow this link, Openings.

Back to top of page


Classes Taught:

Bisc 327 Introductory Neuroscience
Bisc 427 Methods in Comparative Neuroscience
Bisc 518 Microtechniques
Bisc 533 Advanced Neuroscience
Bisc 543 Functional Neuroanatomy

Honors 101 Self and the Society
Honors 102 Nature and the Cosmos
Back to top of page


BA, New College of Florida, Evolutionary Psychology (1992)
MA, University of Texas, Austin, Cognition and Perception (1994)
PhD. University of Texas, Austin, Behavioral Neuroscience (1999)
Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Santa Barbara, Dept. of Ecol., Evol. and Marine Biol. (2004)
Postdoctoral Fellow, UCLA, Dept. of Physiological Sciences (2006)
Back to top of page


Selected Publications:

Lindsay, W. R., Houck, J. T., Giuliano, C. E., & Day, L. B. (2015). Acrobatic courtship display coevolves with brain size in manakins (Pipridae). Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 85(1), 29–36. Chosen as Editors Pick and Cover Art for Issue. Free PDF access.

Fuxjager, M. J., Eaton, J., Lindsay, W. R., Salwiczek, L. H., Rensel, M. A., Barske, J., Sorenson, L., Day, L. B. and Schlinger, B. A. (2015). Evolutionary patterns of adaptive acrobatics and physical performance predict expression profiles of androgen receptor – but not oestrogen receptor – in the forelimb musculature. Functional Ecology, 29: 1197–1208. Lay Summary available here and paper was spotlighted for this Issue here.

Schlinger, B. A., Barske, J., Day, L.B, Fusani, L., & Fuxjager, M. J. (2013). Hormones and the neuromuscular control of courtship in the golden-collared manakin (Manacus vitellinus). Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 34(3), 143–56.

Fuxjager, M. J., Barske, J., Du, S., Day, L. B., & Schlinger, B. A. (2012). Androgens Regulate Gene Expression in Avian Skeletal Muscles. PLoS ONE, 7(12).  Free PDF access.

Day, L. B., Fusani, L., Kim, C., & Schlinger, B. a. (2011). Sexually Dimorphic Neural Phenotypes in Golden-Collared Manakins (Manacus vitellinus); Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 77(3), 206–218.

Day, L. B., Guerra, M., Schlinger, B. A., & Rothstein, S. I. (2008). Sex differences in the effects of captivity on hippocampus size in brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater obscurus). Behavioral Neuroscience, 122(3), 527–34.


Back to top of page