Neuroscience Program

Student Resources

Below you will find a listing of research opportunities as well as some important reference links.

Research opportunities

  • Cay Anderson-Hanley, Psychology

    My research interests lie primarily in the realm of clinical neuropsychology. In particular, I am interested in the neuropsychological effects of exercise for older adults, especially as it might relate to the maintenance of cognitive and emotional functioning and the prevention of dementia. A recent pilot study we conducted regarding the effects of an osteoporosis exercise program suggested a significant effect on executive function. Additionally, I am interested in the effects of expressive writing on the emotional and physical well-being of dementia caregivers.

    Contact information

  • Quynh Chu-LaGraff, Biology

    The research focus of my lab is to understand the biological significance of Palmitoyl Protein Thioesterase 1 and its interacting partners during neural development and in a disease state. The research has biomedical significance since defective human PPT1 leads to a fatal pediatric disorder called infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (INCL). The disease is characterized by progressive deterioration of the visual and central nervous system, and the accumulation of unwanted autofluorescent storage materials in the brain.

    Previously using the Drosophila model, we’ve demonstrated that the normal PPT1 protein regulates axon organization in the developing CNS and PNS, as well as in proper neuronal cell fate specification. Using a human fibroblasts cell line obtained from INCL patient (from Coriel Cell Repository), we re-program these somatic cells into an induced pluripotent stem cell line using the Yamanaka factors. The converted iPSC cells can then be maintained and passaged indefinitely as stem cells that later can be induced to differentiate into motor neurons, interneurons and a variety of glia. These differentiated cells are then examined on the basis of cell morphology, cell viability, and neuronal function in order to understand how cellular behavior and function are affected by the loss of this gene. Representative Publications and Abstracts: Balouch, B.*, Chu-LaGraff, Q. Characterization of a patient fibroblast cell line with Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis disorder. The FASEB Journal, Vol. 31, No. 1 Supplement, April 1, 2017. Bragg, J.*, Balouch, B.*, Chu-LaGraff, Q. Neural Development of Drosophila Homologs of Human Neurofibromatosis and Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, The FASEB Journal, Vol. 30 No.1 Supplement 1181.1, 2016. Chu-LaGraff, Q., Blanchette, C.*, O’Hern, P.*, and Denefrio, C.* (2010). The Batten Disease Palmitoyl Protein Thioesterase 1 gene Regulates Neural Specification and Axon Connectivity during Drosophila Embryonic Development. PLoS ONE 5(12): e14402.* undergraduate authors

    Contact information

  • Daniel Burns, Psychology

    My specialty area is human memory and cognition, with particular interests in normal long-term memory. My current research areas address the following questions. Has evolution shaped what and how we remember? Are the memorial consequences of fasting and glucose ingestion global, or are some memory processes affected more than others? When do similar memories hurt retrieval and when do they help it?

    Contact information

  • Leo Fleishman, Biology

    In my laboratory, we study visual perception and visual communication in reptiles using both behavioral and physiological methods. We are interested in how animals perceive and quantify color and motion in their environment. We also study the evolution of communication signals and see how response patterns of the sensory system interact with habitat characteristics to direct the evolution of visual signals. For example, we have discovered that lizards see ultraviolet light and that many of their visual displays incorporate ultraviolet color patterns. Currently, we are very interested in neural network models of motion detection and are comparing the response of live lizards to visual motion to responses of biologically-inspired computer models of motion perception. Reptiles share with humans and other vertebrates certain basic responses to visual stimuli making them an excellent model for studying the role of motion and color detection in the process of attention shift in vertebrates.

    Contact information

  • Robert Olberg, Biology

    My research addresses questions regarding insect sensory systems, especially vision and neuroethology. More specifically this research addresses the role of descending interneurons in guiding foraging flight in dragonflies, and prey interception in dragonflies.

    Contact information

  • Chad Rogers, Psychology

    My research focuses on speech perception, hearing loss and cognitive control. These issues are very important in aging, so much of my research involves older adult populations. My approach is based on applying the fundamentals of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to issues in hearing science.

    Contact information

  • Stephen Romero, Psychology

    Current research pursues three general goals: (1) Investigating neuronal plasticity associated with the acquisition of new cognitive skills, recovery of function after brain injury, and degeneration of neuronal plasticity in the age-related dementias. These studies include the use of behavioral, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and event-related potentials (ERP) with patients and unimpaired volunteers; (2) Investigating the use and effects of implicit and explicit memory in the acquisition of cognitive skill using behavioral measures in patients and unimpaired populations; (3) Investigating neurological basis of social cognitive processing through the use of behavioral, fMRI, MRS with different populations.

    Contact information

  • Carol Weisse, Psychology

    Current research addresses the issue of pain across the menstrual cycle, gender differences in post-operative nausea and vomiting, the influence of gender and race on pain reporting and treatment decisions.

    Contact information