My research focuses on the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying seasonal changes in social behavior. Specifically, I am interested in studying how animals physiologically encode cues from their environment to seasonally alter behaviors that are essential in promoting survival and reproductive success, including aggressive, reproductive, and parental behaviors. Currently, I am examining how the hormone melatonin, the body’s biochemical cue for changes in photoperiod (i.e., day length), mediates seasonal changes in steroid hormone synthesis and territorial aggression in Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus). Specifically, I use an integrative approach that incorporates molecular genetic, biochemical, pharmacological, and behavioral techniques to study how circulating melatonin and the MT1 melatonin receptor modulate steroid signaling mechanisms in peripheral tissues and in the brain to ultimately influence aggressive behavior.
I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Demas lab at Indiana University. I consider myself a comparative physiologist at heart, since I spent six years conducting research in fish physiology and aquatic toxicology before beginning my graduate career in behavioral endocrinology. I received my B.Sc. and B.A. from the University of Miami, where I was an undergraduate researcher in the Grosell lab at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. I then spent three years as a graduate research assistant in the Galvez lab at Louisiana State University.
Department of Biology
Biology Building 142
1001 East Third Street
Bloomington, IN 47405