Matt Van Hook, Ph.D.​, Assistant Professor 
I joined the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences and the Truhlsen Eye Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center as an Assistant Professor in July 2016. My interests are in how blinding neurodegenerative diseases trigger early changes in the function of neurons and synapses in the visual system. As a postdoc with Dr. Wally Thoreson, I studied the cycle of vesicles at the ribbon synapse of rod and cone photoreceptors, asking how vesicular membrane is retrieved through endocytosis, how vesicles are loaded onto the ribbon, and how the synapse shapes the early stages of visual processing. I approach these research questions primarily with paired patch clamp recordings and capacitance measurements in a retinal slice preparation, and a variety of live imaging techniques using confocal microscopy in slices and with isolated photoreceptors. My PhD work, completed in 2011, was in the lab of Dr. David Berson at Brown University, where I focused on the interactions of melanopsin-expressing ganglion cell photoreceptors with dopaminergic amacrine cells. I primarily approached those questions using whole cell recordings of isolated ganglion cells, but also made single and paired whole cell recordings in a flat-mounted rat and mouse retinas. I also made use of molecular biological techniques including single-cell RT-PCR and anatomical techniques such as immunohistochemistry, intracellular dye filling, and dendritic reconstruction. 

Postdoc, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE. 
Ph.D., Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI.

A.B., Biology, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY. 

Lab alumni

Yang presenting his work at ARVO 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. 

Ana Nelson, Lab Volunteer

Elizabeth Bierlein, Ph.D. Student


B.S./B.A. Alma College, Alma, MI

Yang Zhang, Lab volunteer
Medical Student, Creighton University


University of California, San Diego; La Jolla, CA

B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology

B.S. in Management Science

Andrew Stothert, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate. 

Jennie Smith, Technician


M.A. University of Nebraska - Omaha

B.A. Baylor University, Waco, TX


Ashish presenting his work at ARVO 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.

Ashish Bhandari, Ph.D. Student


​M.S., University of Houston, Houston, TX

B.S., Purbanchal University,
​SANN International College, Katmandu, Nepal


Van Hook Lab