Sciences: Pharmacology

Department: Pharmacology

Supervising Faculty Member: Michael Scott

Specialization: Neuroscience

Research Focus: Our lab is interested in understanding how neuronal circuits regulate food and drug seeking behavior, using both a systems neuroscience approach and molecular genetic techniques. Specifically, we use mouse models to investigate how different types of neurons within the cortex regulate the valuation of both food and the commonly abused drug, nicotine. Experiments underway in the laboratory involve targeted excitation and inhibition of select cortical interneurons followed by behavioral profiling to measure changes in the drive to seek reward. In addition, we have begun to look at the epigenetic and transcriptional changes induced by exposure of cortical neurons to both natural and drug rewards. Using novel genetic tools, we are able to profile epigenetic changes induced by reward exposure, in genetically defined subpopulations of neurons.

Position Description: The student will be assigned to work with a graduate student or postdoctoral researcher on an ongoing project. The student will learn the basic skills of lab and data maintenance (including making solutions, cleaning, conventions of record keeping, safety measures). The laboratory techniques learned by the student will include immunohistochemistry, behavioral testing and the conduct of biochemical assays such as quantitative PCR.

Required skills: A good understanding of chemical safety and a strong commitment to undergraduate research experience is required. We expect the student to have good organizational skills as well.

Computer software:

Training/certification: Students will obtain online and in-person training on chemical safety, biosafety, and animal handling and welfare

What you will learn:

  1. Learn basic laboratory techniques related to the conduct of immunohistochemical and biochemical assays. Students will also learn how to properly conduct behavioral experiments
  2. Students will gain an understanding of how a lab functions and will be able to assess whether a career in research interest them