Research Team 4
Supervised by
Tamara Fitzwater
Office: 119-E Williams

Adolescence is an evolutionarily conserved developmental phase that is characterized by hormonal, physiological, neural, and behavioral changes. Importantly, these adolescent-typical traits appear to be highly conserved across mammalian species. Adolescent rodents, in particular, exhibit many similarities to their human counterparts including increases in peer-directed social interactions, risk-taking/novelty seeking, and drug and alcohol consumption when compared to adults. My research uses an animal model of adolescence to investigate the effects of alcohol on brain, hormones, and behavior. In particular, my laboratory has been interested in investigating the interaction between stress exposure and alcohol in both adolescence and adulthood. Most recently, we have begun to explore the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) at different developmental stages on inflammatory responses in the brain, and how alcohol exposure might change these processes. Students in my laboratory will engage in the research at multiple levels throughout their Research Team experience. We will review and discuss literature relevant to our areas of research, which will facilitate design of experimental studies to be conducted in the lab. All members will participate in execution of these studies that will involve alcohol-exposure models, behavioral testing, and collection of biological samples. Students will take a hands-on approach to our research. During Research Team students will be expected to learn how to score and analyze behavioral data, as well as process biological samples for assessment of hormone and alcohol concentrations in blood. Furthermore, we will use popular techniques in neuroscience to measure expression of genes and proteins in the brain.