I have been working in the neuroimaging field for 16 years. My PhD and post-doc trainings are in the field of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) of the University of Minnesota. This center is one of the most famous centers worldwide for in vivo MR research, particularly for its high-field functional MRI/MRS studies. At CMRR, my work was focused on developing advanced fMRI techniques to improve fMRI spatial resolution to the sub-millimeter level and designing novel fMRI paradigms for probing neural interactions occurring at tens of milliseconds.
In early 2009, I took a tenure-track assistant professor position at the Center for Comparative NeuroImaging (CCNI) of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. At CCNI, I was focused on rodent resting-state fMRI (rsfMRI) studies. In particularly, my lab pioneered a novel rsfMRI method that allows the functional networks of the rat brain to be studied without any influences of anesthesia. This approach has made it possible to translate neuroimaging findings between animal models and human research. By utilizing this approach, my lab for the first time uncovered the organizational architecture of the brain network in awake rats, and revealed how this network organization was altered in unconscious states.
In 2013, I became an associate professor at the Biomedical Engineering department of the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). At PSU, the horizon of my research has been expanded to investigating the neural basis of rsfMRI signal using a multi-modal approach combining neuroimaging, optogenetic, electrophysiological and optical methods.
Ma Z, Perez P, Ma Z, Liu Y, Hamilton C, Liang Z, Zhang N*. (2016): Functional atlas of the awake rat brain: a neuroimaging study of rat brain specialization and integration. NeuroImage: [Epub ahead of print]. PMID:27393420.
Liang Z, Watson G, Alloway K, Neuberger T, Lee G, Zhang N*. (2015): Mapping the medial prefrontal network by combining optogenetics and fMRI in awake rodents. NeuroImage: 117: 114-123. PMID: 26002727.
Liang Z, King J, Zhang N* (2011): Uncovering intrinsic connectional architecture of functional networks in awake rat brain. The Journal of Neuroscience: 31(10):3776 –3783. PMID: 21389232.
Zhang N, Zhu XH, Wang X, Zhang Y, Park JY, Chen W (cover paper): High-resolution fMRI mapping of ocular dominance layers in cat lateral geniculate nucleus. NeuroImage 2010: 50(4):1456-63.