The effect of environmental influences and stresses, both naturally occurring and anthropogenic, on the physiological functions of organisms is the general focus of my research. My interests are on the actions of hormones, diets, and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC) on neurophysiological functions that are controlled by the hypothalamus including energy balance, thermoregulation, stress, and reproduction. In recent years, membrane-initiated steroid signaling has emerged as an important component in the estrogenic modulation of hypothalamic functions and offer novel mechanisms of toxicity for environmental contaminants. My goal is for a greater understanding of the interaction between novel steroid (estrogen) signaling pathways, neuroendocrine functions, maternal and adult diets, and EDC on homeostatic functions controlled by the hypothalamus. I am also interested in the long-term consequences of maternal exposures to low-doses of EDC in model species and how these maternal exposures may affect normal adult offspring physiological functions. To address these questions, we use a range of molecular, cellular, electrophysiological, and whole-animal physiological and behavioral techniques.
We encourage undergraduate and graduate scholars from communities underrepresented in STEM to apply, especially from the LGBTQ+, Black/African American, Latinx, Native American/ Indigenous, and dis/differently-abled community. We believe that great science happens when we create a supportive, diverse, and inclusive environment that prioritizes teamwork, positivity, and respect wherein each team member feels welcomed and encouraged to bring their true authentic selves to the lab.
Currently, my research areas are:
- Sex differences in the response to chronic stressors in corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)/factor (CRF) neurons of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and their subsequent involvement in mood-associated behaviors in mice.
- Determine the role of ERalpha-mediated, estrogen response element (ERE)-dependent and ERE-independent signaling on behaviors (feeding, exploratory, mood), cardiovascular parameters, and the development of energy homeostasis using the mouse transgenic models (ERalpha knockouts (ERKO) and ERalpha KI/KO, which lack a functional DNA binding domain).
- Determine the effects of adult exposures to EDC (flame-retardants) on the hypothalamic neuronal activity and hormone sensitivity using whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology on transgenic GFP-tagged mouse models (POMC, NPY, Tac2).
- Determine the effects of maternal influences of EDC (flame-retardant) exposure on the adult offspring behavior and homeostasis.
- The interactions of estrogens, dietary fatty acids, and age in the health of the gut-microbiome in female mice
|Associate Professor||Department of Animal Sciences, Rutgers University||2018 - present|
|Assistant Professor||Department of Animal Sciences, Rutgers University||2011 - 2018|
|Postdoctoral||Neuroendocrinology, Oregon Health & Science University||2005 - 2011|
|Ph.D.||Physiology/Reproductive Biology, University of California at Davis||1999 - 2005|
|M.A.||Biology/Marine Biology, San Francisco State University||1997 - 1999|
|B.S.||Marine Science/Biology, Long Island University, Southhampton College||1991 - 1992|