My research training began as an undergraduate research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Bales at the University of California, Davis. Here, I developed a strong interest in the neurobiology of socially motivated behaviors as well as the development of neural systems that regulate such behaviors. The goal of my undergraduate research was to determine the impact of early life manipulations of the dopaminergic system on adult attachment and this research resulted in two second-author publications. To complement and extend my undergraduate training, I joined the laboratory of Dr. Aragona at the University of Michigan. As a graduate student in Dr. Aragona’s lab, I gained experience in in vitro fast-scan cyclic voltammetry as well as behavioral pharmacology to better understand the neural processes underlying selective social attachments, which led to two first author publications in the Journal of Neuroscience. I next wanted to examine the neural circuits underlying affiliative social behaviors and how the dysregulation of such circuits contributes to aberrant social behaviors, so I joined the laboratory of Dr. Garret Stuber, where this endeavor became possible.
My current research is focused on thoroughly examining the role of ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA) neurons--a pivotal component of motivational circuitry--in the generation of socially motivated states.
2006-2007: U.C. Davis Ronald E. McNair Scholarship
2006 - 2007: Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program
2011: Poster Award, Gordon Research Conference, Catecholamines
2012: International Narcotics Research Conference (INRC) Young Investigator Travel Award
2013: Outstanding Publication Award, Neuroscience Graduate Program