Gina Poe has been working since 1995 on the mechanisms through which sleep serves memory consolidation and restructuring. Dr. Poe is a southern California native who graduated from Stanford University then worked for two post-baccalaureate years at the VA researching Air Force Test Pilots’ brainwave signatures under high-G maneuvers. She then earned her PhD in Basic Sleep in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program at UCLA under the guidance of Ronald Harper then moved to the University of Arizona for her postdoctoral studies with Carol Barnes and Bruce McNaughtons looking at graceful degradation of hippocampal function in aged rats as well as hippocampal coding in a 3-D maze navigated in the 1998 space shuttle mission. She brought these multiunit teachings to answer a burning question of whether REM sleep were for remembering or forgetting and found that activity of neurons during REM sleep is consistent both with the consolidation of novel memories and the elimination of already consolidated memories from the hippocampus, readying the associative memory network for new learning the next day.
Moving first to Washington State University then to the University of Michigan before joining UCLA in 2016, Poe has over 80 undergraduates, 6 graduate students, and 6 postdoctoral scholars, and has served in university faculty governance as well as leading 5 different programs designed to diversify the neuroscience workforce and increase representation of people of the global majority in the STEM fields. At UCLA she continues research and teaching and Directs the COMPASS-Life Sciences and BRI-SURE programs and co-Directs the MARC-U*STAR program. Nationally she is course director of the Marine Biological Lab’s SPINES course and co-Directs the Society for Neuroscience’s NSP program which earned the nation’s highest mentoring honor in 2018. These programs have served over 600 PhD level trainees over the years.