What kinds of projects have our SMP students done?

Katie Grein '13 presents her SMP

Check out the database of past PsycSMP abstracts

Prospective PsycSMPs: A past student may have suggested a path for future research that you would like to follow!

Students can visit the College Archives (Calvert 009-ground floor) to read or view past St. Mary's Projects Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (appointments recommended).

Access to a full SMP can depend on how a student completed a release form, but most SMPs can be read or viewed in the College Archives without restriction.

Electronic copies of SMPs are usually provided to faculty and staff upon request, but students are provided electronic copies of SMPs only with the permission of a faculty member.

Katerina Placek

Placek, Katerina. (2012, May). Prenatal fluoxetine exposure: Mitigation of affective behavioral deficits through neonatal tactile stimulation.
Mentor: Dr. Aileen Bailey


Fluoxetine (Prozac®) is the most frequently prescribed drug for the treatment of depression in pregnant women, but its long-term neurodevelopmental effects on offspring have not yet been established.  In rats, prenatal fluoxetine exposure is linked with emotional-behavioral deficits in adulthood and lasting neuroanatomical changes, presumably resulting from the unnatural saturation of the developing brain and nervous system with serotonin.  A form of environmental enrichment, tactile stimulation may improve neurodevelopmental outcome in neonatal populations following early-life cortical assault.  The present study investigated the novel usage of neonatal tactile stimulation as an intervention in rats prenatally exposed to fluoxetine, examining potential effects of the intervention on behavioral measures of rodent emotionality (open field test, elevated plus maze, forced swim test) and on Golgi-Cox-identified dendritic spine density and length.  While Golgi-Cox analysis of histological data is not yet complete, behavioral results denote novel evidence for a) the therapeutic potential of tactile enrichment on anxiety-like behaviors, and b) the differential effects of drug exposure and/or environmental enrichment on behavioral outcome based on sex.  Future work on this project will focus on utilizing neurobiological Golgi-Cox data to find a correlation with or causal inference to behavioral data, in the hopes of elucidating the mechanisms by which tactile stimulation confers beneficial outcomes for the comprised neurodevelopment of offspring.

Read the paper (download the pdf)