Alison Caldwell is a Ph.D student in neuroscience at UC San Diego and a member of Dr. Nicola Allen’s lab at the Salk Institute. Alison works to answer questions about the role of astrocytes in synaptogenesis: How do astrocytes time their release of synaptogenic factors? What are the identities of these factors? How are they secreted by the astrocytes? What are the neuronal receptors responding to them? How do genetic mutations affect astrocyte function and how do those changes manifest physiologically and behaviorally? In many neurodevelopmental disorders associated with alterations in synapse formation, such as Fragile X Syndrome, Rett’s Syndrome, and Down Syndrome, changes in astrocyte function seem to play a large role in the pathology of the disease. Identifying and profiling these astrocyte-secreted factors may provide candidates for new drug therapies and better clarify the normal roles played by astrocytes in the developing brain.