- Postdoc., Neuroscience, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
- Ph.D., Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
- M.A., Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
- Postbacc., Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
- B.S.E., Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC
- Assistant Professor, Biology
- Augustana University
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs)-neuropsychiatric diseases that include autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disability-related rare disorders-constitute a tremendous burden on patients, their families, and society as a whole. To understand the mechanisms underlying NDDs and to develop effective treatments, neuroscientists are developing mouse models of the factors that lead to impaired early-life brain development. My research uses these mouse models to address broad themes-the identification of biomarkers and the assessment of potential new therapies-at the intersection of behavioral testing and neurobiological investigation of observed behavioral deficits. Currently, my research focuses on:
(1) Assessing the impact of environmental enrichment in NDDs. Environmental enrichment-a form of cognitive modification of one's surroundings-has proven to ameliorate cognitive, social, and motor symptoms in mouse models of neurodegenerative disorders and traumatic brain injury. But the effect of this manipulation in NDD mouse models remains relatively understudied. Students will assess the impact of two to eight weeks of environmental enrichment on NDD-relevant social, motor, cognitive, or mouse-specific behaviors and anatomical and/or electrophysiological phenotypes.
(2) Characterizing sensorimotor learning as an ASD-relevant biomarker. My graduate work identified widespread deficits in eyeblink conditioning across mouse models of rare, monogenic ASD-related syndromes, suggesting that cerebellar disruption and/or sensorimotor dysfunction might be important biomarkers of ASD.