M. Jade Zee

M. Jade ZeeAssistant Academic Specialist
Associate Director, Behavioral Neuroscience Program

Behavioral Neurobiology, Neuroendocrinology

Department of Biology
Northeastern University
203 B Mugar Hall
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115 USA

Academic Education

  • Ph.D. University of Oregon
  • B.S., University of California, San Diego


  • Associate Director, Behavioral Neuroscience Program (2013-PRESENT)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience Head Advisor (2009-2013)
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Swarthmore College, Dept of Biology (2008-2009)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University, Dept of Neurobiology and Behavior (2004-2008)
  • Grass Fellow, Grass Laboratory at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (2007)
  • Summer Teaching Assistant, Neural Systems & Behavior course, MBL (1999-2004)

Other Professional Activities

Course Manager, Neural Systems & Behavior course, MBL (2014)
Associate Director, Grass Laboratory at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole MA (2010-2013)

Research Interests

The goal of my research is to understand the mechanisms and functional consequences of steroid hormones in the nervous system, especially as it relates to behavior. Hormones have pervasive influences on behavior both in vertebrates and invertebrates and at the level of individual neurons and neural circuits. During the summer, I conduct research at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA investigating neural mechanisms underlying seasonal and sex-specific acoustic communication in teleost fishes. The teleost hindbrain vocal pattern generator exhibits both slow (genomic) and rapid (non-genomic) effects of steroids that alter their cellular and firing properties. Previously, I studied steroid-mediated programmed cell death of a neuromuscular system during metamorphosis in moths- insect metamorphosis being one of the most elaborate examples of post-embryonic neural and behavioral plasticity.

Figure: Toadfish vocal neurons form a dense column in the hindbrain-spinal cord region. Vocal neurons directly innervate muscles surrounding the swim bladder. Rapid firing of vocal neurons leads to rapid muscle contractions against the air-filled swim bladder in a drum-like fashion. In this manner, toadfishes vocalize underwater. Shown above are horizontal sections through the toadfish hindbrain-spinal cord. Vocal neurons have been backfilled with biocytin and appear green. In red, you can see GABA-immunoreactivity. A) Low power view of the entire vocal motor nucleus. (B) High power view showing dense GABAergic fibers and terminals surrounding the large vocal neuron somata. When recording from these vocal neurons with a patch electrode, GABA rapidly and reversibly inhibits vocal neuron firing (not shown).

Teaching Activities

My most important goal as a teacher is to actively engage students in the learning process. I utilize a variety of different teaching techniques that encourage students to fully comprehend new concepts instead of simply acquiring pieces of information. My lectures draw from the primary scientific literature, promote a critical analysis of hypothesis-driven discoveries, and incorporate case study discussions and writing assignments.

My teaching interests span a broad range with a central focus around behavioral neurobiology. I teach Neurobiology (BIOL 3405), Animal Behavior (BIOL 3403), Behavioral Endocrinology (PSYC 3405) and Psychobiology (PSYC 3458).

As the Associate Director for the Behavioral Neuroscience Program, I am happy to help with curriculum issues as well as questions regarding graduate studies and research. I participate in a variety of neuroscience outreach including judging science fairs, organizing undergraduate meetings, and advising the NEURONs student club. I am also the faculty advisor for Nu Rho Psi, the national neuroscience honors society chapter at Northeastern.


  • Chagnaud, B.P., Zee, M.C., Baker, R. and Bass, A.H. (2012) Innovations in motoneuron synchrony drive rapid temporal modulations in vertebrate acoustic signaling. J. Neurophys. 107(12): 3528-42.
  • Kinch, G.L., Hoffman, K.L., Rodrigues, E.M., Zee, M.C. and Weeks, J.C. (2003) Steroid-triggered programmed cell death of a motoneuron is autophagic and involves structural alterations in mitochondria. J. Comp. Neurol. 457: 384-403.
  • Zee, M.C. and Weeks, J.C. (2001) Developmental change in the steroid hormone signal for cell-autonomous, segment-specific programmed cell death of a motoneuron. Dev. Biol. 235: 45-61.
  • Gruol, D.J., Vo, Q.D. and Zee, M.C. (1999) Profound differences in the transport of steroids by two mouse P-glycoproteins. Biochem. Pharmacol. 58(7): 1191-9.
  • Simerly, R.B., Zee, M.C., Pendleton, J.W., Lubahn, D.B. and Korach, K.S. (1997) Estrogen receptor-dependent sexual differentiation of dopaminergic neurons in the preoptic region of the mouse. Pro. Natl. Acad. Sci. 94: 14077-14082.
  • Gu, G., Rojo, A.A., Zee, M.C., Yu, J. and Simerly, R.B. (1996) Hormonal regulation of CREB phosphorylation in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus. J. Neurosci. 16(9): 3035-3044.
  • Simerly, R.B., Carr, A.M., Zee, M.C. and Lorang, D. (1996) Ovarian steroid regulation of estrogen and progesterone receptor messenger ribonucleic acid in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus of the rat. J. Neuroendo. 8: 45-56.
  • Gruol, D.J., Zee, M.C., Trotter, J. and Bourgeois, S. (1994) Reversal of multidrug resistance by RU 486. Cancer Res. 54: 3088-3091.