My primary research goal is to further delineate the synaptic mechanisms and functional neural circuitry that underlie motivated behavioral processes that are perturbed in neuropsychiatric disorders such as addiction, depression, and eating disorders. Throughout my graduate and postdoctoral training, I utilized both in vivo and in vitro methodologies to study rapid dopamine signaling as well as synaptic plasticity during or immediately following behavior. My lab's current research focuses on the synaptic and neural circuit mechanisms that underlie adaptive and maladaptive behavioral states. To accomplish this, we employ multiple cutting-edge techniques both in vivo and in vitro. Specifically, we use in vivo fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to monitor the release of dopamine, in vivo electrophysiology to monitor neural activity during behavior, and ex vivo patch-clamp electrophysiology to measure additional synaptic alterations following learning. These experimental approaches also incorporate optogenetic stimulation or inhibition in vitro and in vivo to allow for pathway-specific perturbation of neural function. Collectively, my lab aims to generate a holistic understanding of neural circuit function that underlies complex motivated behavioral processing, with the long term of goal of identifying novel neural circuit elements to therapeutically target for the treatment of neuropsychiatric illnesses.
Office: (919) 843-7140
Lab: (919) 843-7143