Maxwell H. Turner

Maxwell H. Turner

Assistant Professor
Department of Biological Sciences


Biology 327

PhD, University of Washington

Maxwell Turner smiles in a blue plaid button up in front of a wall of greenery

Turner Vision Lab

Areas of Interest

  • Neurobiology
  • Drosophila visual system
  • Natural scene processing
  • Artificial intelligence & data science
  • Fluorescence microscopy


How do visual systems work in the real world? Answering this question means understanding the mechanisms, functions and principles that underlie visual processing and behavior in real animals, doing real behaviors, and seeing real visual scenes. The kinds of visual stimuli that are often shown in a neuroscience lab are very different than visual stimuli out in the real world.

For one thing, the structure of the world (e.g. the sorts of contrasts, colors and orientations that exist in the real world) may be very different than what is seen in typical visual neuroscience stimuli. For another, real visual input is in almost constant motion, due in large part to the motion of the animal itself.

How do brains deal with the complex and dynamic conditions that characterize natural vision? My lab uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model to ask this question. Working in flies allows us to make genetically targeted recordings and perturbations for virtually any neuron of interest, and because we have the fly connectome, we can know every neuron’s inputs and outputs. This allows us to study neural computation with spectacular precision at the circuit, cellular, and synaptic level. We use a variety of techniques, including in vivo two-photon microscopy, behavioral assays, molecular genetics, and computational modeling.


View Maxwell H. Turner's Publications