Dr Carolina Rezaval BSc, MSc, PhD

Dr Carolina Rezaval

School of Biosciences
Associate Professor

Contact details

603, School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Our lab uses the fruit fly Drosophila to unravel the mechanisms underlying behavioural choices. By studying how the brain makes decisions at a genetic, cellular and circuit level, in an accessible experimental system, we aim to reveal fundamental principles that might be present across species.

Find out more from our website


  • 2009 PhD in Biology. University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • 2004 BSc, MSc in Biology. University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Carolina Rezaval was born in Patagonia, Argentina. She received a Master's and PhD in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires. Her PhD research, supervised by Dr Fernanda Ceriani,  focused on identifying genes involved in neurodegeneration that lead to abnormal circadian behaviour in Drosophila.

She subsequently conducted her post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford, where she studied the genetic and neural basis of innate sexual behaviours in Drosophila. As a BBSRC researcher co-investigator in Professor Stephen Goodwin’s lab at the University of Oxford, she focused on understanding how the brain differs between the sexes and how these differences explain distinct behaviours exhibited by male and female flies. She discovered a specific subset of neurons which, when activated, induces female fruit flies to exhibit male-like behaviours, demonstrating that the neural circuitry for male courtship behaviours indeed exists in the female fly brain but remains dormant.

In April 2018, Carolina was awarded a Birmingham Fellowship to start her laboratory at the University of Birmingham. Her lab focuses on understanding how the brain makes decisions when faced with conflicting options, using Drosophila as a model organism. In 2021, Carolina was promoted to Associate Professor and later became the module leader for Third-Year Cellular Neurobiology at the School of Biosciences. For more information, visit her lab website: https://www.rezavallab.org/.


BIO379: Cellular Neurobiology (Module leader)

23318/23319: Cell Biology and Physiology/Essentials of Cell Biology and Physiology (lecturer)

34136: Personal and Academic Development (tutor)

Postgraduate supervision

PhD projects are offered in the general area of Behavioural Neurobiology using the fruit-fly Drosophila as a model organism. We study how the brain responds when there are conflicting options available, and how it chooses amongst them. By studying how the brain makes decisions at a genetic, cellular and circuit level, in an accessible experimental system, we aim to reveal fundamental principles underlying behavioural choices that might be present across species. 

Technical approaches include genetics, molecular biology, optogenetics/thermogenetics, behavioural assays, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy and functional imaging (in collaboration with other research groups). 

Masters projects are offered in the field of Behavioural Neurobiology as above. 

Interested in joining the lab for MSc, MSci, and MRes projects or PhD training? Please, contact Dr Carolina Rezaval by email c.rezaval@bham.ac.uk

We are keen to host domestic and international students who have secured their own funding.

The University of Birmingham offers a number of competitive BBSRC funded PhD positions each year as part of the MIBTP doctoral training scheme, in association with the Universities of Warwick and Leicester. Application deadlines are every January.  If you are interested in this scheme, please get in touch by email to discuss potential projects and applications.

For a list of possible PhD projects offered by Dr Rezaval   https://www.findaphd.com/search/phd.aspx?Keywords=rezaval

Details of Dr Rezaval's post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford (Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour) can be found at www.dpag.ox.ac.uk/team/carolina-rezaval

Watch a 3 minute video about Dr Rezaval's work here: vimeo.com/177551510.


Birmingham Fly Facilityhttps://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/birmingham-fly-facility/birmingham-fly-facility.aspx

Animals engage in daily activities that are essential for survival and reproduction, such as feeding, mating or fighting for resources. 
How does an animal prioritise one behaviour over others? We know that cues conveying external information (e.g., threats from other animals, access to food) and internal state (e.g., fear, hunger) guide behavioural choices. However, how the brain selects specific actions remains unknown.
Our lab addresses this fascinating question using the fruit fly model, Drosophila. Fruit flies exhibit complex behaviours that are controlled by a relatively small brain. Thanks to sophisticated tools available in the fruit fly, we can interrupt specific genes, as well as visualise and manipulate individual neurons with great resolution. With these tools, we can study how the fly brain responds when there are conflicting options available, and how it chooses amongst them​.

By studying how the brain makes decisions at a genetic, cellular and circuit level in an accessible experimental system, we aim to reveal fundamental principles underlying behavioural choices that might be present across species.

Please, visit our lab group website

Other activities

Science outreach


  • Rezával C, Pattnaik S, Pavlou HJ, Nojima T, Brüggemeier B, D'Souza LAD and Goodwin SF. Activation of latent courtship circuitry in the brain of Drosophila females induces male-like behaviours. Curr Biol. 2016 Sep 26;26(18):2508-15.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.021
  • Comment in: Archer R. Brain wiring explains sex differences in Drosophila behaviour. Journal of Experimental Biology 2016 219: 3675 doi: 10.1242/jeb.130369.   
  • Rezával C. ‘The greatness of the smallest ones’: the most valuable attributes of flies and worms for the study of neurodegeneration. Young perspectives for old diseases. Bentham Science Publishers. DOI: 10.2174/97816080599281150101
  • Rezával C*, Nojima T, Neville MC, Lin AC, Goodwin SF*. Sexually dimorphic octopaminergic neurons modulate female postmating behaviors in Drosophila. Curr Biol. 2014 Mar 31;24(7):725-30.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.051
  • Comment in: Krupp JJ, Levine JD. Neural circuits: anatomy of a sexual behavior. Curr Biol. 2014 Apr 14;24(8):R327-9.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.009
  • Beckwith EJ, Gorostiza EA, Berni J, Rezával C, Pérez-Santángelo A, Nadra AD, Ceriani MF. Circadian Period Integrates Network Information Through Activation of the BMP Signaling Pathway. PLoS Biol. 2013 Dec;11(12):e1001733. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001733
  • Rezával C, Pavlou HJ, Dornan AJ, Chan Y-B, Kravitz EA and Goodwin SF. Neural circuitry underlying Drosophila female postmating behavioural responses. Curr Biol. 2012 Jul 10;22(13):1155-65. 10.1016/j.cub.2012.04.062
  • Comment in: Kubli E, Bopp D. Sexual behavior: how Sex Peptide flips the postmating switch of female flies. Curr Biol. 2012 Jul 10;22(13):R520-2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.04.058
  • Rezával C, Fabre CC, Goodwin SF. Invertebrate neuroethology: food play and sex. Curr Biol. 2011 Dec 6;21(23):R960-2.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.04.058
  • Franco DL, Rezával C, Cáceres A, Schinder AF and Ceriani MF. ENA/VASP downregulation triggers cell death by impairing axonal maintenance in hippocampal neurons. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2010 Jun;44(2):154-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.mcn.2010.03.004
  • Rezával C, Berni J, Gorostiza EA, Werbajh S, Fagilde MM, et al. A Functional Misexpression Screen Uncovers a Role for Enabled in Progressive Neurodegeneration. PLoS One. 2008 Oct 8;3(10):e3332. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003332
  • Rezával C, Werbajh S, Ceriani MF. Neuronal death in Drosophila triggered by GAL4 accumulation. Eur J Neurosci. 2007 Feb;25 (3): 683-94.  DOI:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05317.x
  • De Siervi A, Vazquez ES, Rezával C, Rossetti MV, del Batlle AM. Delta-aminolevulinic acid cytotoxic effects on human hepatocarcinoma cell lines. BMC Cancer. 2002 Mar 22;2:6. PMC101407

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