Most of what we know about neuroscience comes from scientific research – so getting involved first-hand with neuroscience research is a great way to truly experience the field. Research projects can also develop your analysis and critical thinking skills, and lead to conference presentations and professional publications.
Students in the neurosciences are highly encouraged to participate in directed research as an important addition to their classroom experiences. Conducting original empirical research offers a valuable opportunity to learn new techniques, to practice “doing” the science that is learned about in the classroom, and to hone analytical and critical thinking skills.
Faculty at St. Mary’s are actively conducting research with students in diverse areas of neuroscience, including:
- disrupted neural communication in animal models of depression (A.M. Bailey)
- neurobiology of drug addiction as well as sex differences and the relationship between drug reward and aversion (T. S. Dennis)
- animal models of addiction, learning and memory (G. M. Fernandez)
- early-life stress-induced drug abuse and identifying new interventions to weaken drug seeking behavior.
- how people may intentionally or unintentionally imitate just-heard speech (J.T. Mantell)
- the functions of enzymes in the brain involved with memory and ion channel regulation (P.S. Mertz)
St. Mary’s Projects (SMP)
An SMP is a wonderful way to gain research experience. Many neuroscience students choose to complete an SMP that involves a hands-on, empirical research experience in one of our neuroscience laboratories. An SMP in neuroscience is not required for the minor, but is highly encouraged, particularly for students planning to continue their education at the graduate level.
Students and faculty regularly present at regional, national, and international professional conferences. Recent conferences attended include the Society for Neuroscience, Eastern Psychological Association, Vision Science Society, American Psychological Society, and Organization for the Study of Sex Differences. Some of these students have been supported by competitive travel awards sponsored by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, the Council on Undergraduate Research, or the College.
Representative recent conference presentations (* = St. Mary’s students):
- Thompson, S.M., Nelson, M., Zanos, P., Krimmel, S., Pribut, H.J., *Kostelnik, C., *Starnes, H., Bailey, A.M. & Gould, T.D. (2016, November). Alpha5 subunit-selective negative allosteric modulators of GABA-A receptors exert a rapid antidepressant action without evidence of being addictive. Poster presented at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience Meeting: San Diego, CA.
- Mantell, J. T., *Forrester-Fronstin, Z., McCarthy, M. K., & *Hancock, K. P. (2016, November). Vocal pitch production accuracy of steady tones and bends. Poster presented at the Psychonomic Society Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.
- *Kostelnik, C., *Starnes, H., Bertoni, M., & Bailey, A.M. (2016, March). Conditioned place preference shows no intrinsic rewarding value for the drug L-655, 708. Poster presented at the 2016 Eastern Psychological Association Meeting: New York, NY.
- Mantell, J. T., *Tapley, K. M., *Forrester-Fronstin, Z., & *Greenberg, S. T. (2015, August). Time to target: An informative and underutilized measure of vocal pitch accuracy. Poster session presented at the Society for Music Perception and Cognition conference, Nashville, TE.
- *Konka, K., Bailey, A., & Geller, P.A. (2014, August). Effects of postnatal exposure to fluoxetine and investigating alternative treatments for postpartum depression. Poster presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association: Washington, D.C.
Student research with faculty, especially on St. Mary’s Projects, occasionally leads to publication in peer-reviewed journals, a highly prestigious accomplishment for college students.
Representative recent journal publications (* = St. Mary’s students):
- *Roberts, B.M., *Jarrin, S.E., Mathur, B.N., & Bailey, A.M. (2016). Illuminating the undergraduate behavioral neuroscience laboratory: A guide for the in vivo application of optogenetics in mammalian model organisms. The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 14 (2), A110-A15.
- Kvarta, M., *Bradbrook, K., *Dantrassy, H., Bailey, A.M. & Thompson, S.M. (2015). Corticosterone mediates the synaptic and behavioral effects of chronic stress at hippocampal temporoammonic synapses. Journal of Neurophysiology,114, 1713-1724.
- *Piantadosi, P.T., *Holmes, A., *Roberts, B.M., & Bailey, A.M. (2015). Orexin receptor activity in the basal forebrain alters performance on an olfactory discrimination task. Brain Research, 1594, 215-222.
- Kallarackal, A.J., Kvarta, M.D., *Camaratta, E., Jaberi, L., Cai, X., Bailey, A.M., & Thompson, S.M. (2013). Chronic stress induces a selective decrease in AMPA receptor-mediated synaptic excitation at hippocampal temporoammonic-CA1 synapses. Journal of Neuroscience, 33 (40), 15669-15674.