Alex Carlson

Alex Carlson


I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology-chemistry from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2014.  There, I worked in the lab of Dr. Matthieu Rouffet to synthesize small molecule inhibitors of anthrax lethal factor.  I became interested in the brain and development after working as a tutor with a student on the autism spectrum.  I decided to pursue neurobiology and was accepted to UNC’s Biological and Biomedical Science Program.  I joined the neurobiology curriculum and Rebecca Knickmeyer Santelli’s lab in the spring of 2015.


I am interested in the pre and postnatal role of microorganisms in early brain development.  Maternal infection during pregnancy has been associated with increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders.  I am investigating the effects of maternal infection on neonatal brain structure and connectivity through sMRI and DTI.  Microorganisms may continue to influence brain development in the post-natal setting through gut colonization.  I want to determine how microbial colonization impacts anxious behavior in the developing child and identify signaling mechanisms and neural circuits mediating this relationship.



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