Research Summary: I started my position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology at the University of Connecticut in January 2021, leading the Neural Circuits in Motivated Behavior research group. The laboratory’s current research focuses on understanding how central norepinephrine (NE) signaling regulates motivated behaviors, including the pursuit of reward and the avoidance of danger. Specifically, our research aims to identify the NE circuits and receptors involved in behaviors, such as feeding and responses to threat. Because behavior is strongly influenced by internal states (e.g., hunger, stress, arousal) as well as external sensory stimuli (e.g., taste, sound), we also aim to determine the influence of NE on these integrative functions of the brain that shape motivated behaviors. Our ultimate goal is to uncover the neuromodulatory basis of neuropsychiatric and feeding disorders. We accomplish these goals using a variety of techniques, including mouse models, in vivo calcium imaging, neurotransmitter sensing, optogenetics, chemogenetics, viral genetic strategies, and behavioral approaches—to understand how NE influences motivational states.
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