Ben Reese

Ben Reese

Research Professor, Professor Emeritus

Research Area

Neuroscience and Behavior

Campus Affiliations

Neuroscience Research Institute


Benjamin Reese received his undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology from UCSB in 1980, and completed his doctorate in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford in 1984. He then spent five years as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Human Anatomy at Oxford. He returned to UCSB to join the faculty in 1989, in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, holding an adjunct professorship in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. Dr. Reese was the recipient of the 1997 UCSB Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research. His work is currently funded by the National Eye Institute.


Dr. Reese's research focuses on understanding the organizing principles and developmental mechanisms governing the formation of the retinal architecture. Various projects are examining this transformation of an undifferentiated retinal neuroepithelium into the mature structure, including the genetic determinants of neuron number, laminar positioning and intercellular spacing.  We are particularly interested in how these demographic properties of different neuronal types affect their morphological differentiation and establishment of connectivity within the developing plexiform layers.

Selected Publications

Keeley, P.W., Whitney, I.E., Madsen, N.R., St. John, A.J., Borhanian, S., Leong, S.A., Williams, R.W. and Reese, B.E. (2014) Independent genomic control of neuronal number across retinal cell types. Developmental Cell30, 103-109.  DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2014.05.003.

Keeley, P.W., Zhou, C., Lu, L., Williams, R.W., Melmed, S. and Reese, B.E. (2014) Pituitary tumor transforming gene 1 regulates the spacing of retinal neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA111, 9295-9300. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1323543111.

Whitney, I.E., Keeley, P.W., St. John, A.J., Kautzman, A., Kay, J.N. and Reese, B.E. (2014) Sox2 regulates cholinergic amacrine cell positioning and dendritic stratification in the retina. Journal of Neuroscience34, 10109-10121.  DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0415-14.2014.

Reese, B.E. and Keeley, P.W. (2015) Design principles and developmental mechanisms underlying retinal mosaics. Biological Reviews, 90, 854-876. DOI: 10.1111/brv.12139.

Reese, B.E. and Keeley, P.W. (2016) Genomic control of neuronal demographics in the retina. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, 55, 246–259. DOI:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2016.07.003.

Keeley, P.W., Whitney, I.E. and Reese, B.E. (2017) Genomic control of retinal cell number: challenges, protocol, and results. In Schughart, K. and Williams, R.W. (Eds.) Systems Genetics: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 1488, 365-390.   DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6427-7_17.

Keeley, P.W., Kim, J.J., Lee, S.C.S., Haverkamp, S. and Reese, B.E. (2017) Random spatial patterning of cone bipolar cell mosaics in the mouse retina. Visual Neuroscience, 34, e002. DOI: 10.1017/S0952523816000183.

Keeley, P.W. and Reese, B.E. (2018) Dner and Nfia are expressed by developing and mature AII amacrine cells in the mouse retina. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 526, 467-479. DOI: 10.1002/cne.24345.

Kautzman, A.G., Keeley, P.W., Nahmou, M.M., Luna, G., Fisher, S.K. and Reese, B.E. (2018) Sox2 regulates astrocytic and vascular development in the retina. Glia, 66, 623-636. DOI: 10.1002/glia.23269.

Kautzman, A.G., Keeley, P.W., Ackley, C.R. & Reese, B.E. (2018) Genetic control of rod bipolar cell number in the mouse retina. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 12, 285. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00285.  

Stincic, T.L., Keeley, P.W., Reese, B.E. & Taylor, W.R. (2018) Bistratified starburst amacrine cells in the Sox2 conditional knockout mouse retina display ON and OFF responses. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120, 2121-2129. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00322.2018.

Kautzman, A.G., Keeley, P.W., Ackley, C.R., Leong, S., Whitney, I.E. & Reese, B.E. (2018) Xkr8 modulates bipolar cell number in the mouse retina. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12, 876. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00876.

Keeley, P.W., Eglen, S.J. & Reese, B.E. (2019) From random to regular: Variation in the patterning of retinal mosaics. (under review)