Katerina Semendeferi is a professor of Anthropology and director of the Laboratory for Human Comparative Neuroanatomy at UCSD. Dr. Semendeferi studies the cortex and subcortical structures using human postmortem tissue. Her research focuses on selected neurodevelopmental disorders and on evolutionary studies of humans and apes. In contrast to accepted dogma, her work showed that the relative size of the frontal cortex is remarkably similar across apes and humans and challenged ideas favoring cross species uniformity of the cortex and limbic system. Her morphometric studies on neuron density, nuclei volume, and dendritic tree branching helped shift the focus from emphasis on overall size to changes in microstructure and connectivity in the humans after the last common ancestor. The overarching hypothesis in her lab is that a phylogenetically recent reorganization of frontal cortical and amygdala circuitry took place that may be critical to the emergence of human-specific social and emotional functions, and that developmental pathology in these same systems underlie autism and Williams Syndrome. Her lab now also targets Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by a deletion of approximately 25 genes on chromosome 7 and distinctive alterations to social cognitive abilities, using a unique collection of human brain material. WS is an ideal model for understanding the reciprocal effect of genes on behavior in humans. It also makes for a unique opportunity to link the neural function and structure to its genetic underpinnings and also to human behavior and its evolution.