UC Davis neuroscientist named 2024 Sloan Research Fellow

Theanne Griffith’s research will explore possible connections between proprioception and neurodegenerative diseases


Theanne Griffith, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology, has been awarded a prestigious 2024 Sloan Research Fellowship in neuroscience from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The two-year, $75,000 fellowships honor exceptional U.S. and Canadian researchers whose creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of leaders.

Griffith is among 126 early career researchers chosen this year from 53 institutions. The awards honor scholars in seven fields — chemistry, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience and physics.

A smiling woman with long brown hair sits in front of a microscope wearing goggles and a white lab coat.
UC Davis neuroscientist Theanne Griffith has been awarded a prestigious 2024 Sloan Research Fellowship in neuroscience from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

A full list of 2024 Fellows is available on the Sloan Foundation website.

The Sloan Research Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards available to young researchers, in part because so many past Fellows have gone on to become distinguished figures in science. To date, 57 Fellows have received a Nobel Prize.

"Sloan Research Fellowships are extraordinarily competitive awards involving the nominations of the most inventive and impactful early-career scientists across the U.S. and Canada,” said Adam F. Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “We look forward to seeing how Fellows take leading roles shaping the research agenda within their respective fields.”

Griffith received her undergraduate degrees in neuroscience and Spanish from Smith College and earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Northwestern University. As a graduate student, she combined electrophysiology and molecular biology to investigate the structure and function relationship between ionotropic glutamate receptors and their auxiliary subunits. As a postdoctoral fellow, she studied the molecular mechanisms governing excitability of sensory neurons.

Griffith joined the UC Davis faculty in 2020. That same year she was selected as a UC Davis CAMPOS Faculty Scholar. Her research investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying proprioception — our internal spatial awareness of self — and other somatosensory modalities. Her research uses an innovative combination of electrophysiology, transgenic mouse models, behavior, imaging, and molecular profiling.

The Sloan Foundation encourages Fellows to pursue “high risk, high reward” projects. Griffith will examine whether a disruption of proprioception early or later in life can cause motor neuron degeneration. The potential findings of her research could shed a light on mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and spinal muscular atrophy.

Griffith is the author of multiple research papers and has also written children’s books about science.