Dr Carolina Rezaval BSc, MSc, PhD

Dr Carolina Rezaval

School of Biosciences
Birmingham Fellow - Group leader

Contact details

School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Carolina Rezaval is a behavioural neurogeneticist. She uses the fruit fly Drosophila to study the genetic and neural mechanisms underlying behavioural choices.


  • 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 Masters and PhD in Biology from the University of Buenos Aires. Her PhD research focused on the identification of genes involved in neurodegeneration, leading to abnormal circadian behaviour in Drosophila.

She subsequently did 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 Oxford, she focused on understanding how the brain differs between the sexes, and how these differences explain distinct behaviours shown by male and female flies. She discovered a specific subset of neurons which, when activated, induces fruit fly females to behave like males, demonstrating that the neural circuitry for male courtship behaviours in fact exists in the female fly brain but remains dormant.

Carolina has been awarded a Birmingham Fellowship to start her laboratory at Birmingham University in April, 2018. Her lab will focus on understanding how the brain makes decisions when faced to conflicting options (e.g. mating vs. avoiding predation risk) using Drosophila as a model organism.

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-1.

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

Postgraduate supervision

Interested in joining the lab? For Post-doctoral, PhD, Masters, summer projects and work experience, contact Dr Carolina Rezaval by email: crezaval@gmail.com.

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.


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