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Ann M. Castelfranco
Associate Researcher
Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology

Contact Info
(808) 956-9283 (ph)
(808) 956-6984 (fax)
1993 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822


  • University of Iowa, Ph.D. (Applied Mathematical Sciences)
  • University of Iowa, M.S. (Mathematics)
  • University of California at Davis, B.S. (Mathematics)

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

My research is concerned with the interaction between cellular morphology and the computational properties of neurons, which I study using mathematical and computational modeling techniques based on the biophysical properties of neurons. This is joint work with Dr. Daniel Hartline.

A current focus is on how the structure of “myelin” – a multilayered, lipid-rich membranous sheath that surrounds some axons – changes the properties of nerve impulse conduction and whether this can provide insight into how natural selection might drive myelin evolution. Although it is a relatively complex structure, myelin has evolved independently several times: at least twice in crustaceans, once in annelids, as well as once in higher vertebrates (gnathostomes). Using biophysical models, we have investigated: 1) the effects of hypothetical intermediate stages in myelin evolution on nerve impulse conduction velocity, and 2) the transition from continuous to saltatory conduction with the addition of segments of insulation to an unmyelinated axon. We are currently developing models to investigate invertebrate neuron-glial cell interactions.

Another series of studies has looked at how the morphology of neurons with active conductances located at a distance from the cell body can lead to space-clamp errors in voltage clamp experiments. The nature of the distortions in the measured properties of the voltage-dependent conductances and possibilities for recognizing and correcting these errors were investigated using simple theoretical models. This approach was used to investigate space-clamp errors in measuring transient potassium current in crab stomatogastric neurons using detailed multi-compartment models of dye-filled cells.

Department and Laboratory Webpages

Daniel Hartline Lab Webpage – Evolution of Myelin 

Selected Publications

Lenz,P.H., Roncalli, V., Cieslak, M.C., Tarrant, A. M., Castelfranco, A.M. and Hartline, D.K. (2021) Diapause vs. reproductive programs: transcriptional phenotypes in a keystone copepod in high latitude environments. Comms Bio 4:426.

Marchand, L.L., Wilkens, L.R., Castelfranco, A.M., Monroe, K.R., Kristal, B.S., Cheng, I., Maskarinec, G., Hullar, M.A., Lampe, J.W., Shepherd, J., Franke, A.A., Ernst, T.and Lim, U. (2020) Circulating biomarker score for visceral fat and risks of incident colorectal and postmenopausal breast cancer: the multiethnic cohort adiposity phenotype study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 29:966-973. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1469

Cieslak, M.C., Castelfranco, A.M., Roncalli, V., Lenz, P.H. and Hartline, D.H.(2020) t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (t-SNE): a tool for ecophysiological transcriptomic analysis. Mar. Genomics 51:10073.

Castelfranco, A.M, and Hartline, D.K,. (2015) The evolution of vertebrate and invertebrate myelin: a theoretical computational study. J. Comput. Neurosci. 38:521-538. doi:10.1007/s10827-015-0552-x.

Young, R.G. Castelfranco, A.M., and Hartline D.K., (2013) The “Lillie Transition”: models of the onset of saltatory conduction in myelinating axons. J. Comput. Neurosci. 34:533-546. doi:10.1007/s10827-012-0435-3.

Additional Information

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