I am a first year Ph.D. student in the Behavioral, Cognition and Neuroscience program. My research interest is behavioral psychopharmacology, specifically drug abuse in adolescents. As a first year student, I plan to prepare for my master thesis in which I will study animal models of addiction, neural circuits and behavior. Eventually, I would like to apply this knowledge to optogenetics to observe if addictive behavior can be attributed to certain neuronal networks.
In my undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, I worked three years in the biopsychology laboratory. During this time I learned and conducted multiple behavioral models such as Morris water maze, drug discrimination, forced swim, autoshaping, signal detection and differential reinforcement of low rates. As an honors student, I completed and defended my thesis which focused on antidepressant-like effects of ketamine in the DRL 72 assay. Ketamine has been shown to produce rapid (within 4 hours) and prolonged effects (up to two weeks) in single intravenous dose in patients with major depression disorder. Preclinical models have also found that ketamine produces these effects. To date, the experiment was the first to observe this in mice using the DRL 72 procedure and the results held consistent with other studies in that ketamine produces antidepressant like effects.