PhD Northwestern University, Pharmacology and Toxicology 1999
Dissertation: “Learning and age associated changes in the biophysical and synaptic properties of CA1 pyramidal neurons in hippocampus”
Advisor: John Disterhoft
MS University of Maine - Orono, Zoology 1993
BS University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, Genetics and Development 1990
My research focuses on understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie the brain’s ability to remodel neural circuits thus enabling learning and memory formation.
I am a Senior Lecturer within the Department of Physiology and lead Neuroplasticity in Memory and Addiction Group within the Translational Neuroscience Facility. Over the course of my career, I have made key contributions to our understanding of how neurons integrate information and remodel their connections, and how these processes change with learning and aging. Currently my research focuses on understanding the cellular processes involved in motivated behaviours such as reward learning. The overarching aim is to identify and validate therapeutic targets for the treatment of aberrant motivated learning that underlies conditions such as addiction and obesity. Ultimately, we’d like to find ways to modulate brain circuits to support abstinence and reduce to risk of relapse.
Novel pathways to abstinence from alcohol seeking. National Health & Medical Research Council / Ideas Grants (2022 - 2026)
New Teacher of the Year (2013) – School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Sydney
ResTeach Grant (2011) – University of Queensland
Smart State Fellow (2007 – 10) – Queensland State Government
Journal of Physiology Cover Illustration - Volume 580, Issue 3, May 2007
Chapters Post Doctoral Travel Fellowship (2007) - Society for Neuroscience
National Research Service Award (1994 – 1997) - National Institute for Mental Health (USA)
I am currently the SoMS Outreach and Public Engagement Coordinator. I am engaged in the operation of a host of SoMS outreach activities including Open Day, National Youth Science Forum, Brain Awareness Week and the Australian Brain Bee High School Students competitions.
My Research Supervision
Eddie Wise, Sophia Gilchrist, Si Yin Liu
I believe that my role as an educator of adults at university is to encourage and facilitate students’ active engagement in the learning process, enabling students to achieve a deeper understanding of the subject and the capacity to apply the knowledge to new situations. I currently convene NEUR3221 Neurophysiology and NEUR4421 Biomedical Perspectives in Neuroscience. I also teach into a range of neuroscience courses including NEUR2201 and NEUR3121.