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Psychopharmacology | Lab Members

Katie Nelson

Woman stands outside.

kn9165a@student.american.edu

Curriculum Vitae

 

I graduated from the University of Houston in 2012 with my B.S. in Psychology. During my undergraduate career I volunteered to work with both the Clinical Neuroscience Research Team led by Dr. Merrill Hiscock and the Behavioral Neuroscience Research Team directed by Dr. J. Leigh Leasure. In Spring of 2013 I began working as a research technician in Dr. M. Waleed Gaber’s Pediatric Oncology/Radiation Research Lab through the Baylor College of Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas where I stayed for 2 and a half years. In the fall of 2015 I joined the Psychopharmacology Laboratory run by Dr. Tony Riley at American University in Washington, D.C. as a Psychology Master’s Student in the Biological/Experimental thesis track. In the fall of 2017 I will joining the doctoral program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience (BCaN) at American University. 

My current research is directed towards studying animal models of psychostimulant use including cocaine, MDPV, and α-PVP (aka: ‘Bath Salts’, Flakka, Gravel, 5-dollar insanity). Lately, out of the three compounds mentioned, my focus has been primarily on α-PVP. I have various plans to research this second generation bath salt including, but not limited to; quantifying addiction potential, rewarding effects, aversive effects, effects of drug history, cross tolerance, sex differences, age differences, strain differences, self-administration behaviors, withdrawal, and long-term effects. Due the newness of α-PVP and other ‘bath salts’, they remain mostly unexplored compared to more familiar drugs like cocaine and amphetamine. Because of this unfamiliarity, there is so much left to know regarding these compounds. This is a new frontier in psychopharmacology that I find particularly exciting. 

My interests are not solely centered on substituted cathinones and psychostimulant use, however. I am curious about many topics regarding drug effects, the brain, and behavior and consider myself quite flexible with my research questions. Hopefully with some creative research design I will be able to continue to explore behaviors produced by drug use in conjunction with other variables such as: diet, exercise, ambient temperature, stress, maternal care, prenatal exposure, menopause, and more. I would also really love the opportunity to work with some neuroimaging equipment sometime in the future.