I graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2002 where I received my Bachelor of Science Degree. I then continued my research and education and received my Master of Science degree from Boise State University in 2006.
When a rat drinks ethanol chronically, but then goes through repeated periods of abstinence, each successive abstinence period is accompanied by increasing anxiety-like behaviors as reflected in reduced social interactions and reduced environmental exploration. Although partial or even full blockage of these anxiety-like behaviors is pharmacologically possible, the exact causes remain largely unknown. Recent studies suggest that repeated periods of abstinence from chronic ethanol can cause changes to histone proteins that allow for either increased or decreased expression of specific genes in neurons. My research in the lab focuses on blocking these changes to histone proteins, both throughout the brain and in specific brain nuclei, in an effort to prevent this increase in anxiety-like behaviors. These studies have particular relevance to human medicine because stress induced anxiety is the leading cause of relapse in abstaining alcoholics.