- Rank: Associate Professor
- Area: Developmental Psychobiology/Behavioral Neuroscience
- Specialization: Rodent Models of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Alzheimer's Disease; Learning and Memory; Quantitative Neuroanatomy
- Office: Rawl 225
- Phone: 252.328.6445
- Email: email@example.com
- Dept/College/University Service and Affiliations:
- Program Director, BA/BS Program in Neuroscience
- Auxiliary Chair, Dept. of Psychology
- Multidisciplinary Studies Committee
- President-Elect, East Carolina Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience
- Adjunct Faculty, Dept. of Biology
- Adjunct Faculty, Dept. of Pharmacology & Toxicology
- Psychology Department Graduate Faculty
- Wooten Laboratory for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research
Experimental Research Interests
My research involves studying rodent models of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.
(1) The main neurodevelopmental disorder I have focused on is fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which includes fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and other maternal alcohol-related deficits. Rodents are used to help explain the phenomenology, teratology, and neuropathology seen in human cases of FASDs. Currently, I am examining whether early alcohol exposure in rodents leads to learning deficits as measured by eyeblink classical conditioning, the most well-studied form of associative learning in mammalian neuroscience. To determine whether the early alcohol insult also results in brain dysfunction that correlates with the behavioral deficits, I use a variety of histological, histochemical, and morphometric techniques. It is hoped that answers about alcohol's impact on brain-behavior relationships can be better understood in animals, and in turn guide research that examines chemical or behavioral therapies that minimize or prevent such a deplorable condition in humans. Currently, we are examining the potential benefits of micronutrients such as choline and antioxidants such as vitamin E in minimizing the detrimental impacts of fetal alcohol exposure on the brain and behavior.
(2) In terms of neurodegenerative disorders, I am examining behavioral and cognitive deficits in triple-transgenic (3xTg-AD) mice that bear the PS1-M146V, APP-Swe, and tauP301L mutations - mutations that are hallmark features of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In collaboration with investigators at Brody School of Medicine, we hope to test the feasibility of experimental therapeutic agents that have gained much interest as of late in minimizing the impact of AD in animal models.
My Students/Research Assistants and Their Noteworthy Achievements
- Brook Cathey: Winner, Best Oral Biomedical Research Presentation at ECU Research Week ($250, Spring 2007).
- Teodora Stoica: Recipient, The Carol Smith Ripley Scholarship in Psychology ($500, Spring 2007).
- Christopher Richardson: Recipient, Undergraduate Research Assistantship stipend ($500, 2007-2008).
- Danielle Bryan: Recipient, Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity grant for senior thesis project ($500, 2007-2008).
- Michael Koury: Recipient, Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity grant for senior thesis project ($2500, 2007-2008).
- Danielle Bryan: Recipient, Foundation Account Award in Psychology for best senior thesis project ($250, Spring 2008).
- Ellen Sheffer: Recipient, Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity grant ($2350, 2008-2009).
- University Book Exchange Scholarship in Psychology ($500, 2010)
- Dept. of Psychology Earl & Norma Childers Scholarship ($300, 2010)
- Ryan Craft: Recipient, Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity grant ($2400, 2009-2010).
- Kara Burns: Winner, Best Undergraduate Biomedical Research Poster at ECU Research Week ($50, Spring 2010).
- Dorothy Dobbins:
- Winner, Best Undergraduate Poster at 12th Annual Neuroscience Symposium ($100, Fall 2010).
- Winner, Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation in Biomedical Sciences at ECU Research Week ($50, Spring 2011).
- Pursuing MS - Interdisciplinary Program in Biological Sciences
- Iola Conchar (Graduate Student 2011 - present):
- Pursuing MA - Research Program in Psychology
- Lily Medina: Recipient, Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity grant ($1500, 2011-2012).
- Andrew Norris: Recipient, Brody Scholarship for Medical School (2012).
- Tiffany Phasukkan:
- Recipient, Carol Smith Ripley Award ($500, 2012).
- Recipient, Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity grant ($1000, 2012-2013).
Education and Post-Graduate Training
- B.S.: Regis University, Denver, CO.
- M.A.: University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, Experimental Psychology - Behavioral Neuroscience
- Ph.D.: University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, Experimental Psychology - Behavioral Neuroscience
- Dissertation Mentor: Dr. Sandra J. Kelly, U. South Carolina
- Postdoctoral Work: Post-Doc and Research Associate, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis [1999-2005] for Dr. Charles R. Goodlett - Developmental Psychobiology.