My name is Balint Zoltan Kacsoh. I was raised in the beautiful capital of Hungary, Budapest, and in Macon, GA. From a young age, I was fascinated by biology--whether it be going to the aquarium and the zoo, to biology class--I wanted to understand how organisms function. My father, also Balint Kacsoh (https://medicine.mercer.edu/research/macon/faculty-research/researchers/bailintkacsoh.cfm), brought me to his research lab at Mercer University School of Medicine, where I was able to keep my own cell cultures and "help" run experiments as young as age 8. Throughout lower, middle, and highschool, my favorite subject was the sciences. I even sought more rare classes to take, such as Genetics and Advanced Topics in Science. Thus, I was science primed and I pursued a scientific career to identify the molecular and genetic mechanisms governing organismal output.
I received my BS/MS from Emory University under the guidance of Dr. Todd Schlenke and Dr. Nathan T. Mortimer. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Giovanni Bosco at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. I am interested in asking the big picture question of what are the governing factors that contribute to the behavior of an organism. I suggest that behavior is observable on the cellular and organismal level. To answer this approach to behavior, I employ neuro, genetic, behavioral, and bioinformatic approaches.
As an undergraduate student at Emory University, under the mentorship of Dr. Nathan Mortimer and Todd Schlenke, I studied the physiological and behavioral immune response of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) and other Drosophilids in the genus Drosophila in response to predatory wasps. We uncovered physiological mechanisms of Drosophila larvae allowing successful immune responses in addition to uncovering novel wasp venom components. We also uncovered multiple unique behavioral responses of adult Drosophila to the predatory wasps.
As a graduate student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth under the supervision of Dr. Giovanni Bosco (http://boscogeneticslab.com/), my primary studies were on learning, memory, and social behavior in Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly) and the effects of age on these processes. For learning and memory, we utilized an ecologically relevant stimulus (a predatory wasp), to elicit a non-associative memory, that we analyzed for decay following exposure across time. Using this assay, we find an age dependent decline of memory maintenance, responsible in part due to changes in the mushroom body, the learning and memory center of the fly brain. For social behaviors, we find that flies exposed to predators engage in social interactions whereby naive flies learn and remember as if they had seen the predator. We have proposed that this social behavior constitutes a fly “language” and have observed both intraspecies and interspecies communication to exist throughout the genus Drosophila.