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Behavioral Neurosci Ctr 219x92 bg f8f5ee

Behavioral Neurosci Ctr 219x92 bg f8f5ee


The Center provides a unique research and training environment that promotes excellence in the study of brain function and its manifestation in behavior. As represented by the diverse research interests of our members, we are establishing a collaborative environment where shared ideas and resources will enable us to generate innovative answers to important scientific questions. The Center is fortunate to have the Chairs of five departments among its members including Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Literature, and World Language and Culture. Additionally, our members include the Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning, as well as the Dean and Associate Dean for the School of Education, Teaching and Health (SETH).


Neuroscience and Behavior

  1. Victoria Connaughton, Associate Professor

    Dr. Connaughton’s research interests encompass the disciplines of developmental biology (nervous system development) and neurobiology. Specifically, she is interested in examining the relation between visually-guided behaviors in larval teleosts and … More

    Send email to Victoria Connaughton

    (202) 885-2188

  2. Terry Davidson, Director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Dr. Davidson earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology at Michigan State University and earned his Ph.D. with a specialization in Learning and Memory at Purdue University before completing his post-doctoral training in Behavioral Neuroscience at … More

    Send email to Terry Davidson

    (202) 885-6541

  3. Maria Gomez, Senior Professorial Lecturer

    CAS - Psychology

    Dr. Gomez-Serrano was born and raised in Madrid where she obtained her Veterinarian degree specializing in animal husbandry and genetics. Right after obtaining her degree, Dr. Gomez-Serrano moved to Washington DC and started working at NIH with Dr. S… More

    Send email to Maria Gomez

    (202) 885-2681

  4. Kathleen Holton, Assistant Professor

    CAS - Health Studies

    Dr. Kathleen Holton is a nutritional neuroscientist. Her research examines the negative effects of dietary excitotoxins on neurological symptoms, as well as the positive protective effects of certain micronutrients on the brain. The most common die… More

    Send email to Kathleen Holton

    (202) 885-3797

  5. Laura Juliano, Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Laura M. Juliano earned her PhD. in Clinical Psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research addresses cognitive and behavioral mecha… More

    Send email to Laura Juliano

    (202) 885-1715

  6. David Kearns, Associate Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Research interests:animal models of drug abuse and addiction treatment; the effects of drug cues on behavior; conditioning and learning; extinction; theories of learning; animal models of gambling.Recent publications:Kearns, D. N., Tunstall, B. J., &… More

    Send email to David Kearns

    (202) 885-1711

  7. Mark Laubach, Professor

    CAS - Biology

    I am a neurobiologist interested in how groups of neurons work together to process information. My research has focused on the frontal cortex and basal ganglia and their roles in executive control and decision making. My laboratory uses a systems and… More

    Send email to Mark Laubach

    (202) 885-2116

  8. Anthony Riley, Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Dr. Riley received his undergraduate training at the University of North Carolina and obtained his PhD from the University of Washington. He did a post-doctoral fellowship in pharmacology at Dalhousie University in Canada. He joined the faculty at Am… More

    Send email to Anthony Riley

    (202) 885-1720

  9. Colin Saldanha, Professor and Department Chair, Biology

    CAS - Biology

    Hormones are profound modulators of brain structure and function; with influences that span the lifetime of an organism. The muti-faceted and pluripotent neural effects of steroids require that a specific hormone be delivered to the right target at p… More

    Send email to Colin Saldanha

    (202) 885-2156


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Clinical Psychology

  1. Anthony Ahrens, Associate Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Anthony Ahrens did his undergraduate work at Northwestern University and received his doctorate in psychology from Stanford University. His research interests fall at the interface of social and clinical psychology. His current interests emphasize gr… More

    Send email to Anthony Ahrens

    (202) 885-1714

  2. James Gray, Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Current Research Interests: Eating Disorders, Behavior Therapy, Psychotherapy, Abnormal Psychology, Psychology of Religion

    Send email to James Gray

    (202) 885-1716

  3. Kathleen Gunthert, Associate Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Dr. Gunthert’s program of research focuses on the influence of everyday stress and coping on depression, anxiety, and psychotherapy outcomes. Specifically, she has used intensive daily monitoring techniques to address how everyday mood regulation var… More

    Send email to Kathleen Gunthert

    (202) 885-1701

  4. David Haaga, Professor and Department Chair, Psychology

    CAS - Psychology

    Dave Haaga is a Professor of Psychology and has been a faculty member at American University since 1989. Dr. Haaga received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California and completed postdoctoral training in cognitive the… More

    Send email to David Haaga

    (202) 885-1718

  5. Nathaniel Herr, Assistant Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Nathaniel Herr is an Assistant Professor of Psychology who joined the department in 2012. Dr. Herr received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and received postdoctoral training and a faculty appointment at … More

    Send email to Nathaniel Herr

    (202) 885-1724


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Neuroscience and Cognition

  1. Fernando Benadon, Associate Professor

    CAS - Performing Arts

    Fernando Benadon oversees the music theory & composition program in the Department of Performing Arts. More here:

    Send email to Fernando Benadon

    (202) 885-3452

  2. William Brent, Associate Professor

    CAS - Performing Arts

    William Brent’s creative work is spread across the areas of experimental music performance, sound art, and sound design. These projects involve various combinations of human- robotic- and computer-realized sound, and are controlled by software writte… More

    Send email to William Brent

    (202) 885-1488

  3. Bryan Fantie, Associate Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    After completing an Honours thesis on motivational systems in the brain guided by Dr. Roy Wise at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, Dr. Fantie did his graduate work at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. There he studied LTP, kindlin… More

    Send email to Bryan Fantie

    (202) 885-1790

  4. Scott Parker, Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Scott Parker began teaching at American University in 1974. He is interested in the quantitative aspects of our experiences and how we make evaluations and choices based on them. Examples include how loud we think sounds are, how valuable we think $5… More

    Send email to Scott Parker

    (202) 885-1719

  5. Zehra Peynircioglu, Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Zehra Peynirciolu received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Stanford. She started graduate studies in cognitive psychology, specializing in memory, at Princeton (and received an MA) and followed her advisor to Rice and received her PhD. th… More

    Send email to Zehra Peynircioglu

    (202) 885-1713

  6. Richard Sha, Professor

    CAS - Literature

    Professor Sha teaches courses in Nineteenth-Century Literature, especially British Romanticism, and in Asian American Literature. He has drafted a new book entitled,  Science and Imagination in Romanticism, 1750-1850, for which he has received a 2012… More

    Send email to Richard Sha

    (202) 885-2928

  7. Arthur Shapiro, Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Arthur Shapiro specializes in the areas of visual perception and cognitive neuroscience. He did his undergraduate work in Mathematics (Computer Science) and Psychology (Cognitive Science) at U.C. San Diego. He received his PhD in Psychology from Colu… More

    Send email to Arthur Shapiro

    (202) 885-2011

  8. Catherine Stoodley, Assistant Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    Catherine Stoodley is interested in the neuroscience of cognitive development, particularly the role of the human cerebellum in cognition, cognitive development and in neurodevelopmental disorders. She uses clinical studies, structural and functional… More

    Send email to Catherine Stoodley

    (202) 885-1785


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Quantitative and Computational Neuroscience

  1. Stephen Casey, Professor

    CAS - Math & Statistics

    Professor Stephen D. Casey is a founding member of the Editorial Board for Sampling Theory in Signal and Image Processing. His research is in complex and harmonic analysis with applications to signal processing. He has published nearly fifty articles… More

    Send email to Stephen Casey

    (202) 885-3126

  2. Mary Gray, Professor

    CAS - Math & Statistics

    A statistician and lawyer, Professor Gray’s areas of research include applications of statistics to human rights, economic equity, legal issues, and education. She is the founder of the Association for Women in Mathematics, a fellow of the American S… More

    Send email to Mary Gray

    (202) 885-3171

  3. Alan Silberberg, Professor

    CAS - Psychology

    My research interests are animal learning, behavioral economics, primatology and smoking. Publications can be seen in Google Scholar as linked from my profile.

    Send email to Alan Silberberg

    (202) 885-1709

  4. Bei Xiao, Assistant Professor

    CAS - Computer Science

    Professor Xiao studies human and machine perception of object properties in dynamic scenes. She did her undergraduate work in chemistry at Tsinghua University. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and did… More

    Send email to Bei Xiao

    (202) 885-3666


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Molecular Neuroscience

  1. John Bracht, Assistant Professor

    CAS - Biology

    The totality of DNA in a cell is its genome, and for an organism to survive, its genome must be stably maintained and properly regulated. The fundamental question I am addressing is: How is genome architecture established and maintained in healthy ce… More

    Send email to John Bracht

    (202) 885-2189

  2. Stefano Costanzi, Associate Professor

    CAS - Chemistry

    Dr. Costanzi's research interests mainly revolve around the application of computational techniques to the study of drug targets and the identification of molecules that modulate their activity. The main focus of the research activities is on the stu… More

    Send email to Stefano Costanzi

    (202) 885-1722

  3. Katie DeCicco-Skinner, Associate Professor

    CAS - Biology

    Send email to Katie DeCicco-Skinner

  4. James Girard, Professor

    CAS - Chemistry

    Dr. James Girard teaches analytical, environmental and forensic chemistry, as well as chemistry for non-science majors. He is the author of a textbook for environmental and chemistry students, Principles of Environmental Chemistry. He is also the aut… More

    Send email to James Girard

    (202) 885-1791

  5. Monika Konaklieva, Associate Professor

    CAS - Chemistry

    Dr. Konaklieva’s research is in the area of exploring different approaches for delaying of microbial resistance. Current projects include computer-aided design and synthesis of novel beta-lactams as well as development of synthetic methodology for pr… More

    Send email to Monika Konaklieva

    (202) 885-1777

  6. Catherine Schaeff, Associate Professor

    CAS - Biology

    Dr. Schaeff's training is in behavior and evolutionary biology. Her research interests include behavior, conservation biology, molecular ecology and most recently, human sexual identity – examining the biological foundations of human gender and sexua… More

    Send email to Catherine Schaeff

    (202) 885-2175


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Education & Policy

  1. Naomi S. Baron, Exec Dir, Ctr for Teaching, Research and Learning and Professor of Linguistics

    Centr Teach Research Learning

    Professor Baron is interested in language and technology, reading, the relationship between speech and writing, the history of English, and higher education. A former Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, and Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center fo… More

    Send email to Naomi S. Baron

    (202) 885-2455

  2. Sarah Irvine Belson, Executive Director, Institute for Innovation in Education

    CAS - School of Education

    Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson holds a PhD from Arizona State University in Curriculum and Instructional with a cognate in Special Education. Her research explores educational opportunity for children with disabilities and teacher education policy. Her focu… More

    Send email to Sarah Irvine Belson

    (202) 885-3714

  3. Anastasia Snelling, Department Chair, Health Studies

    CAS - Health Studies

    Dr. Anastasia Snelling is a professor and Chair of the Department of Health Studies at American University. She has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a registered dietitian for over thirty years and a fellow in the American C… More

    Send email to Anastasia Snelling

    (202) 885-6278

  4. Jon Wisman, Professor

    CAS - Economics

    Professor Wisman teaching interests are: History of Economic Thought, Methodology, History, Introductory Macroeconomics. His research spans a broad spectrum of domains from history of economic thought and methodology to labor and other social issues.

    Send email to Jon Wisman

    (202) 885-3158


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  1. Jeffrey Kaplan, Associate Professor

    CAS - Biology

    Kaplan’s lab studies bacterial biofilms, which are thin, slimy layers of bacteria that grow on surfaces exposed to a liquid. Biofilms grow on rocks in streams, inside pipes, on teeth, and on implanted medical devices such as mechanical heart valves a… More

    Send email to Jeffrey Kaplan

    (202) 885-2113

  2. Stephen MacAvoy, Department Chair, Environmental Science

    CAS - Environmental Science

    Working in biogeochemistry and ecology, I've been particularly interested in areas where marine and freshwater systems interface such as those that appear in tidal aquatic environments. I'm also interested in how nutrients flow through and are utiliz… More

    Send email to Stephen MacAvoy

    (202) 885-3003


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Department Chairs

  1. Chip Gerfen, Professor and Department Chair, World Languages & Cultures

    CAS-World Lang and Cultures

    Send email to Chip Gerfen

    (202) 885-2385

  2. David Haaga, Professor and Department Chair, Psychology

    CAS - Psychology

    Dave Haaga is a Professor of Psychology and has been a faculty member at American University since 1989. Dr. Haaga received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California and completed postdoctoral training in cognitive the… More

    Send email to David Haaga

    (202) 885-1718

  3. Colin Saldanha, Professor and Department Chair, Biology

    CAS - Biology

    Hormones are profound modulators of brain structure and function; with influences that span the lifetime of an organism. The muti-faceted and pluripotent neural effects of steroids require that a specific hormone be delivered to the right target at p… More

    Send email to Colin Saldanha

    (202) 885-2156

Advisory Committee

Terry L. Davidson: Director

Stefano Costanzi: Chemistry

Kathleen Gunthert: Clinical Psychology

Alison Presley: Graduate Student, Behavior, Cognition, & Neuroscience

Colin Saldanha: Biology

Arthur Shapiro: Behavior, Cognition, & Neuroscience

Catherine Stoodley: Behavior, Cognition, & Neuroscience


Save the date! The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience will be hosting the symposium, Sex Differences: From Neuroscience to the Clinic and Beyond, April 20-21.

Public Discussion:
Gender Differences in Medical Research, April 10.
Members of the media interested in attending the public discussion should contact Rebecca Basu, senior public relations manager, at 202-885-5978 or

Drs. Alan Silverberg and Maria Gomez-Serrano have been awarded an R15 from NIMH for their proposed work, "Experimental Tests of the Adequecy of Rat Models of Human Empathy." Congratulations!

Contact information

Please direct inquiries about the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience to:

Terry L. Davidson
Director, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
Asbury 334
4400 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20016

Bernadette Storey-Laubach

Coordinator, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
Asbury 224
4400 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20016

Departments & Programs

Faculty from the following participate in the center:




Environmental Science


Performing Arts

Math & Statistics

World Languages and Cultures