I earned a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh before earning a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from The George Washington University. I trained with Dr. Istvan Mody at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to become proficient in electrophysiological techniques to explore the ability of steroid hormones and neurosteroids to modulate GABAergic inhibition and the impact on the epilepsies. At Tufts University School of Medicine, my laboratory focuses on investigating the role of GABAergic signaling and stress in the control of neural networks and the contribution to both physiology and pathophysiology, with a focus on epilepsy and depression.
I earned my BA in Neuroscience with a minor in Women’s and Gender studies at Middlebury College in 2007. My undergraduate advisor, Dr. Kim Cronise, introduced me to the field of addiction neuroscience and helped spark my curiosity in understanding the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the development of alcohol use disorders. In the Cronise lab, we explored the yin-yang relationship of tolerance and sensitization in the development of addictions to psychoactive compounds like alcohol. Soon, I grew interested in binge behaviors and wanted to determine how heavy -but intermittent- exposure to reinforcers like alcohol led to the neuroadaptations that drove addiction and how -for a minority of users- this pattern of consumption precipitated conditions like depression and anxiety. To continue to mature these interests, I began my graduate studies at Binghamton University under the guidance of Dr. Stephen Boehm, whose laboratory focused on understanding the role of ontogeny and genetics in precipitating the negative effects of alcohol exposure. My first projects in the lab used inbred mouse strains to characterize adolescent responsivity to alcohol across genotypes that either readily consumed or avoided alcohol as adults. As these research efforts progressed, I began work on a newly funded grant in the lab and became all the more interested in the role that the GABAA receptor system may play in mediating alcohol reinforcement, specifically as it relates to maintaining a binge drinking session. After initiating this project, I completed my MS in Behavioral Neuroscience from Binghamton in 2010 and elected to continue my graduate training with Dr. Boehm, who made the decision to move his laboratory to Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. This move gave me the opportunity to be awarded an NIAAA-funded training fellowship and be a part of the well established Indiana Alcohol Research Center. For my dissertation, I characterized a new mouse model of binge drinking that highlighted the important role that biological sex plays in moderating the effects of alcohol. My goal with this work was to use an animal model to investigate the now contested “telescoping” phenomenon. It had traditionally been posited that women show a “telescoped” development of alcohol use disorders, or a faster progression through landmark events associated with the development of alcohol addiction. My projects established that, in an animal model of binge drinking, females augment their binge behavior at a faster rate than males, express unique depression and anxiety-like symptoms following binge drinking, and quickly develop remarkable preference for a concentration of alcohol to which they were previously indifferent. In the final part of this work I found that, although binge drinking can induce changes in the expression of GABAA subunits for both males and females, the particular subunit changes, direction of those changes, and the regions where these adaptations occur, are different across the sexes. After defending my PhD at IUPUI in August 2013, I joined Dr. Maguire’s laboratory for my postdoctoral training. As a member of the Maguire team I am eager to expand my investigation of the GABAA receptor and continue to understand the role that adaptation of this diverse receptor system plays in mediating the expression of disorders that have a particular impact on women’s health.
I graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Binghamton in 2008 with a dual degree in Linguistics (B.A.) and Psychobiology (B.S.). After working as a behavioral neuroscience research technician for two years, I pursued a year of graduate-level training at Cornell University within their Behavioral and Evolutionary Neuroscience program. Desiring a more mechanistic understanding of the nervous system, I then moved to my current position in the Neuroscience Program at Tufts University Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. Throughout my time here, I have focused predominantly on GABAergic inhibition, reward circuitry, and stress, using a variety of techniques including transgenic mouse models, viral-mediated approaches, and optogenetics. I have specifically centered my work on understanding the contribution of different GABAA receptor subunits to alcohol consumption in an area critical to reward circuit functioning—the ventral tegmental area (VTA). To this end, my thesis work has investigated the role of an extrasynaptically located GABAA subunit—the d subunit—and its sex-specific role in the VTA during binge drinking.
I graduated from Boston University in 2005 with a BA in Psychology and minor concentrations in Biology and Chemistry. As an undergraduate, I first became interested in synaptic plasticity working in the laboratory of Dr. Jen-Wei Lin, investigating voltage-gated calcium channels at the crayfish neuromuscular junction. After graduation, I went on to work at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for Dr. Mary Ann Wilson and Dr. Anne Comi, where I had the opportunity to work on a rodent model of stroke and seizure. As a graduate student at Tufts University, I am interested in continuing to explore the causes and progression of seizures, particularly the role of compromised GABAergic tone. I am also very eager to study other implications of compromised GABA – for example, its role in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysfunction in pathological states such as posttraumatic stress. I look forward to pursuing these interests in depth as a member of Dr. Maguire’s lab.