Sandra Kuhlman

Sandra Kuhlman

Sandra Kuhlman

Associate Professor

Department of Physiology and Biophysics

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Biomedical Engineering; Circadian Rhythm/Chronobiology; Computational Biology; Imaging In Vivo; Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Neuroscience; Schizophrenia; Vision science

Contact Information
3264 JSMBS
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-887-2915

Professional Summary:

Our work focuses on understanding how early life experience informs the construction of sensory circuits that are ultimately used to guide appropriate behavior and learning. The goal is to leverage this knowledge to design more effective treatments for cognitive and perceptual dysfunction associated with maladaptive plasticity.

Our research falls into 3 broad categories, geared to address the following questions:

Learning and memory: how do neural circuits integrate new information while maintaining stable perception and existing behavioral skill sets? Our recent work established that cortical networks are inherently robust to perturbations associated with experience-dependent plasticity. We are currently dissecting the circuit basis for this observed robustness, a robustness that is critical for lifelong learning.

Metabolic homeostasis: how do the metabolic needs of the organism influence perception? To address this, we examine the impact of satiation state as well as jet-lag on sensory-related anticipatory signals.

Cellular energy balance: how do neurons regulate energy usage during intense mental training? During periods of high neuronal activity, there are competing cellular processes that must occur for a neuron to express synaptic plasticity and remain healthy. We are examining the mechanisms that regulate the temporal kinetics of AMPA receptor trafficking and mitochondrial dynamics using brain-computer interface technology. Our novel technology allows us to monitor subcellular dynamics in the specific neurons directly undergoing training, in-vivo.

To answer our research questions, we employ state-of-the-art microscopy in awake mice in combination with sophisticated behavioral paradigms. Relevant pathophysiological conditions being investigated include: amblyopia, epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia, and sleep-related disorders.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Physiology, University of Kentucky (2001)
  • MS, Biology, Northeastern University (1996)
  • Certificate, Secondary Education, Gettysburg College (1994)
  • BS, Biology, Gettysburg College (1993)


  • Associate Professor, Physiology and Biophysics, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2023-present)
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh (2014-present)
  • Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University (2018–2023)
  • Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University (2012–2018)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Neurobiology, UCLA (2009–2012)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Neurobiology, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (2001–2009)

Awards and Honors:

  • Eberly Family Career Development Endowed Chair, Carnegie Mellon University (2019)
  • HHMI Visiting Scientist, Janelia Research Campus (2009)
  • NARSAD Young Investigator (2006)
  • Grass Fellowship (2003)
  • NIH National Research Service Award F32 individual postdoctoral fellowship (2002)

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • September 2023–June 2027
    Development and plasticity of stimulus processing in the visual cortex
    National Eye Institute
    Role: Principal Investigator

Journal Articles:

See all (21 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience Member (2000–present)


  • "Delayed maturation of somatostatin-mediated inhibition may facilitate life-long learning" Department of Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI (2024)
  • "Neural correlates of learning and memory" Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, PA (2024)
  • "Development and plasticity of the visual system" Winter Conference on Brain Research (2024)
  • "Impact of brain computer interface (BCI) training on representational drift in an intact neural system" Department of Biomedical Engineering, University at Buffalo (2023)
  • "Improving perception in complex environments" 15th Annual Neuroscience Research Day, University at Buffalo (2023)
  • "Representational rebound in visual cortex following dark exposure" Causes and Implications of Representational Drift Meeting, Janelia Research Campus (2023)
  • "Learning to see complexity" VisioNYC organized by Tony Movshon, Carol Mason, Jonathan Victor, and Qasim Zaidi (2023)
  • "Perception to action: processing sensory signals in complex environments" Winter Conference on Brain Research (2023)
  • "Development of complex scene processing continues past the classic critical period" Optica Fall Vision Meeting (2022)
  • "Learning to see and other mechanisms for acquiring behavioral independence in complex environments" Departments of Neurobiology and Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh (2022)

Service Activities:

  • Annual departmental picnic co-chair (2024–present)
  • Regional. Solar Eclipse ‘Fun Facts’ video with Colin Marchincin, student president of the Ophthalmology club, in conjunction with Ellen Goldbaum, Senor Medical Editor at UB.; Organizer. (2024)
  • Curriculum Development Committee (2023–present)
  • National. Human Factors In Flight essay writing platform. In partnership with the Berlin Airlift Foundation, we developed a companion website for our museum display. The public is invited to write short articles on various topics. Starting materials and guidance is provided. Example topic: We got frostbite before we passed out. How did Coxwell and Glaisher’s bodies respond when their balloon went as high as an airliner in 1862?; Primary organizer. (2023–present)
  • Graduate affairs committee member (2023–present)
  • IACUC Review Committee (2023–present)
  • National. Our modern understanding of the biology of sleep took centuries to develop. Not all milestones were academic. Sometimes, historical events pushed the limits of human endurance. Overcoming and managing these limits requires insights into the laws of nature, including human physiology. An example is the BERLIN AIRLIFT of 1948 and 1949. The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates the public about the Airlift's place in history. The Foundation operates the "Spirit of Freedom", a 1945 Dougals C-54 Skymaster cargo plane. As a "flying museum", the "Spirit of Freedom" visits airshows around the nation to raise awareness of the Berlin Airlift's impact on history and culture. I partnered with the Foundation to create a special display inside the airplane about how the Berlin Airlift introduced the aviation industry to the importance of circadian rhythms and human sleep physiology. Date and location of the most recent airshow event: April 2024, Charleston SC.; Primary organizer. (2023–present)
  • Cosyne (2022–2023)
  • Neuroscience of Basic Visual Processes (NBVP); Standing member, NIH Peer Review Committee (2021–2025)
  • Nature Communications (2020–present)
  • PNAS (2015–present)
  • Nature Neuroscience (2010–present)

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Contact Information

3264 JSMBS
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-887-2915