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Academic Research

Neurobiology of Stress and Substance Use Disorder

Dr. Claire Stelly specializes in behavioral neuroscience and the neurobiology of stress and substance use disorders. She is passionate about kindling students' scientific curiosity and helping them develop the habits of mind necessary for rigorous research. Dr. Stelly’s lab investigates the neural processes by which stressors influence species-specific motivated behaviors in model organisms.

Neural Correlates of Cognition, Stress, and Resilience

Dr. Kate Yurgil’s research examines complex relationships between the brain, cognition, and health by using a variety of methodological techniques, including cognitive tests, psychological assessments, and electroencephalography (EEG) to measure electrical brain activity. Dr. Yurgil’s primary interests include determining biopsychosocial predictors of traumatic stress and resilience, as well as understanding individual differences in perception, memory, and executive functions. Understanding the nature of these differences is an important step in supporting neurodiversity, improving cognitive performance, and promoting healthy behaviors and outcomes.

Clinical Neuroscience & Evolutionary Genetics

Dr. Emily Casanova uses both clinical and computational methods to study autism from various perspectives, including investigation of its overlap with hereditary connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndromes and fragile X premutation, as well as the investigation of major effect autism susceptibility genes and their evolution. Related to the study of autism gene evolution, Dr. Casanova has also been investigating a large group of developmental regulatory genes, their roles in metazoan evolution, and how they relate to evolutionary theories such as Punctuated Equilibria.

Molecular Neurobiology in the Aging Brain

Dr. Laurie Earls uses rodent models to investigate molecular processes that impact brain development over the lifespan. Her studies focus on molecular changes that occur in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is important for learning and memory. Dr. Earls uses electrophysiology, behavior, genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry to determine the rules that govern hippocampal maturation during early adulthood.  These studies have important implications for understanding cognitive diseases, many of which emerge only within specific stages of adulthood.