Christopher S. Wallace


Christopher S. Wallace
Dr. Robert F. Welty Associate Professor of Biology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA 99362
(509) 522-4421; Fax –5904,


British Studies Centre, Canterbury, England, 1980-1981
B.A., English, Univ. Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1983
B.S., Psychology, Univ. Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1983
Ph.D., Neuroscience, Univ. Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1993


Whitman College
      Associate Professor of Biology, 2007 – present
      Assistant Professor of Biology, 2001 – 2007
      Visiting Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, 2000 - 2001

Research Assistant Scientist
      Oregon Health and Sciences University, 1998 – 2005

Postdoctoral Fellow
      University of Virginia, with Dr. O. Steward, 1993 – 1997


T.A. for Comparative Development, Univ. Illinois (UIUC), 1983
T.A. for Techniques in Biological Psychology, UIUC, 1984-1987
T.A. for Laboratory in Physiological Psychology, UIUC, 1985
Mentored > 15 Undergraduate Research Interns, UIUC, U. Virginia, OHSU, 1983-1999
Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Whitman College, 2000-2001
Courses: Principles of Biology, Developmental Biology, Neurobiology
Assistant Professor of Biology, Whitman College, 2001 – present.


Dendrites are of strategic importance in understanding the cellular organization of the neural circuits in the brain because they form the receptive surface for the many thousands of synapses that converge on a single neuron. I examine dendrites as a way of understanding how neurons are built during early development and become “plastic” to store new information from individual experience. Working with long-term collaborator Ginger Withers, I combine behavioral, anatomical and molecular techniques to identify structural changes in dendrites and accompanying changes in gene expression to understand their molecular regulation. Currently, we are at work on 3 related areas of research in developmental neurobiology: 1) development of mRNA transport and localization in dendrites, 2) the “social” regulation of the onset of dendritic plasticity through the interactions between neurons, glial cells and blood vessels, 3) using diminished plasticity as a novel assay for subtle brain damage caused by exposure of the developing brain to harmful chemicals.


Robert F. Welty Chaired Associate Professorship, 2007 - present
NIH National Research Service Award NSO9793, 1995-1997
NIH Postdoctoral Trainee NSO7199, 1993-1995
University of Illinois Neuroscience Student Research Grant, 1992
University of Illinois Neuroscience Merit Award, 1989
Phi Beta Kappa
Midwest Soc. for Electron Microscopy Student Research Award, 1988
NIH National Research Service Award Trainee, 1984-1987


Society for Neuroscience, Sigma Xi, Faculty in Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN),
Council on Undergraduate Research, American Association for the Advancement of Science


NIH/NIEHS, 1 P42 NS10338, Hazardous chemicals and brain developmental plasticity, PI, Christopher Wallace ($500,000, 2000-2005)
Keck Foundation Summer Research Grant ($13,220, 2005)
Whitman College Abshire Award, 2007, PI, Christopher Wallace
Whitman College Innovation in Teaching and Learning Award ($12,220, 2008) “Building new science courses and labs around discovery: integrated inquiry-based instrutional units and ‘clabinar’ courses”, coPIs, G.S. Withers, C.S. Wallace and D. Vernon

PUBLICATIONS (undergraduate co-authors indicated with *)


Withers, G.S., Wallace, C.S. (2007, in press) Inexpensive Digital Microscopy Workstations Engage Students in Integrative Biology. in A. Mendez-Vilas, J. Diaz (Eds.) Modern Research and Educational Topics in Microscopy, 3rd Ed.


Withers, G.S., Day, N.F.*, Talbot, E.*, Dobson, H.E.M., Wallace, C.S. 2008 (in press) Experience-dependent plasticity in the mushroom bodies of the solitary bee Osmia lignaria (Megachilidae). Developmental Neurobiology, October 2007 epub.

Ikeda, M., Sugiyama, T., Wallace, C.S, Gompf, H.S., Yoshioka, T., Miyawaki, A., Allen, C.N. (2003). Circadian dynamics of cytosolic and nuclear Ca2+ in single suprachiasmatic nucleus neurons. Neuron, 38:253-263.

Wallace, C.S., Reitzenstein, J.*, Withers, G.S. (2003). Diminished experience-dependent neuroanatomical plasticity: Evidence for an improved biomarker of subtle neurotoxic damage to the developing rat brain. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111:1294 – 1298.

Steward, O., Wallace, C.S., Lyford, G.L., Worley, P.F. (1998). Synaptic activation causes the mRNA for the IEG for Arc to localize selectively near activated postsynaptic sites on dendrites. Neuron, 21:741-751.

Wallace, C.S., Lyford, G.L., Worley, P.F., Steward, O. (1998). Differential intracellular sorting of immediate early gene mRNAs depends on signals in the mRNA sequence. The Journal of Neuroscience, 18(1):26-35.

Steward, O., Wallace, C.S. (1995). MRNA distribution within dendrites: relationship to afferent innervation. Journal of Neurobiology, 26(3):447-458.

Wallace, C.S., Withers, G.S., Weiler, I.J., George, J.M., Clayton, D.F., Greenough, W.T. (1995). Correspondence between sites of NGFI-A induction and sites of morphological plasticity following exposure to environmental complexity. Molecular Brain Research, 32, 211-220.

Wallace, C.S., Kilman, V.L.*, Withers, G.S., Greenough, W.T. (1992). Increases in dendritic length following a brief period of differential housing in weanling rats. Behavioral and Neural Biology, 58:64-68.

Boppart, S.A., Wheeler, B.C., Wallace, C.S. (1992). A flexible perforate microelectrode array for extended neural recordings. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 39(1):37-42.

Black, J.E., Sirevaag, A.M., Wallace, C.S., Savin, M.H.*, Greenough, W.T. (1989). Effects of complex experience on somatic growth and organ development in rats. Developmental Psychobiology, 22(7):727-752.


Steward, O., Wallace, C.S., Worley, P.F. (2001). Synaptic plasticity in epileptogenesis: cellular mechanisms underlying long-lasting synaptic modifications that require new gene expression. International Review of Neurobiology, 45:269-292.

Steward, O., Worley. P.F, Wallace, C.S. (2001) Synapse-specific gene expression of the IEG Arc: Insights into molecular mechanisms that may play a role in memory consolidation. In Gold, P.E., Greenough, W.T. (Eds), Memory consolidation: Essays in honor of James L. McGaugh. APA Books, pp 35-58.

Steward, O., Wallace, C.S., Worley, P.F. (2000). Synaptic regulation of messenger RNA trafficking within neurons. In Baudry, M., Davis, J.L., Thompson, R.F. (Eds.), Advances in Synaptic Plasticity. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp 33-52.

Greenough, W.T., Wallace, C.S., Alcantara, A.A., Anderson, B.J., Hawrylak, N., Sirevaag, A.M., Weiler, I.J., Withers, G.S. (1992). Development of the brain: Experience affects the structure of neurons, glia and blood vessels. In Anastasiow, N., Harel, S. (Eds.), Proc. from the 3rd International Workshop on the At Risk Infant. Baltimore:Paul H. Brookes, 173-185.

Wallace, C.S., Hawrylak, N., Greenough, W.T. (1991). Studies of synaptic structural modifications following LTP and kindling: Context for a molecular morphology. In Baudry, M., Davis, J.L. (Eds.), LTP: A Debate of Current Issues. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 189-232.

Greenough, W.T., Withers, G.S., Wallace, C.S. (1990). Morphological changes in the nervous system arising from behavioral experience: What is the evidence that they are involved in learning and memory? In Squire, L.R., Lindenlaub, E. (Eds.), The Biology of Memory, Symposia Medica Hoescht 23. F.K. Stuttgart-New York: Schattauder Verlag, pp. 159-183.

Greenough, W.T., Black, J.E., Wallace, C.S. (1987). Experience and brain development. Child Development, 58:539-559.
(Reprinted (1992 and 2002) In Johnson, M.H., Munakata, Y., Gilmore, R.O., Brain Development and Cognition,1st and 2nd Ed., Oxford: Blackwell Publishing).


Wallace, C.S., Withers, G.S., Lein, P. Working Title: A critical review of the hypothesis that diminished experience-dependent plasticity is an improved biomarker for detecting subtle neurotoxic damage caused by exposure of the developing brain to environmental toxins. Planned for submission to Environmental Health Perspectives.


Day, N.F.*, Talbot, E.*, Dobson, H.E.M., Wallace, C.S., Withers, G.S. (2005). Separating experience-expectant organization from experience-expectant plasticity in the mushroom bodies of the solitary bee Osmia lignaria. Undergraduate Poster Session, Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington DC, Nov. 11- 15.

Day, N.F.*, Talbot, E. *, Dobson, H.E.M., Wallace, C. S., Withers, G.S. (2005). Evidence that foraging experience alters the mushroom bodies of the solitary bee Osmia lignaria. Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, February 27-March 2, Pacific Grove, CA

Wallace, C.S., Withers, G.S. (2004). Affordable digital microscopy workstations engage students in integrative biology. Crossing Boundaries: Innovations in Undergraduate Research, the 10th National Conference Proceedings, Council on Undergraduate Research, p 23.

Withers, G.S., Wallace, C.S. (2003). An affordable imaging system introduces undergraduates to digital microscopy. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting Abstracts, 33, 25.7.

Withers, G.S., Wallace, C.S., Banker, G. (2001). Preferential positioning of GFP-staufen beneath dendritic spines. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting Abstracts, 31, 250.7.


Wallace, C.S. Faults in neuroanatomical plasticity reveal low level neurotoxic damage to the brain. University of Idaho Neuroscience Program Seminar Series, March 25, 2004.

Wallace, C.S. Experience-dependent plasticity of dendrites: Functional relevance and molecular regulation. Lake Forest College, Department of Biology and Summer Research Program, Lake Forest, IL, July 7, 2004

Wallace, C.S. Imaging molecular targeting in living neural cultures. Microscopy & Microanalysis Conference Symposium: “Highlights of Biological Microscopy in the Pacific Northwest.” Organizer: C.Meshul. Portland, OR, August 1-5, 1999.

Wallace, C.S. Rapid dendritic transport of Arc mRNA: Implications for Neural Plasticity. Winter Conference on Neural Plasticity Symposium “Molecular mechanisms of plasticity: Localization of specific mRNAs to axons, dendrites and glial cells.” Chair: I.R.Brown. St. Lucia, Caribbean, Feb 22-Mar 1, 1997.

Wallace, C.S. Dendritic Trafficking of Arc mRNA and localization of the Arc Protein. Winter Conference on Brain Research Workshop “Proteins and Plasticity: Mediation of Long-term Events in the Brain.” Chair: R.H. Lenox. Breckenridge, CO, Jan 25-Feb 1, 1997.

Wallace, C.S. Dendritic Export of the Inducible mRNA Arc: Implications for Transport Mechanism and Sorting Signal. FASEB Summer Research Conference “Cellular and Intracellular Transport of RNA.” Snowmass, CO, June 22-28, 1996.