My goal is to understand the impact of stress on the bidirectional relationship between the brain and body. My research identifies biological mechanisms that contribute to individual differences in response to stress and influence mental health. I have combined my Ph.D. training examining the effects of stress on hippocampal plasticity and cognition with my postdoctoral training in pharmacology, molecular neuroscience and immunology in order to understand how stress alters the immune system and effects the brain and behavior. I started my own laboratory examining sex differences in the neuroimmune regulation of stress and plasticity at Virginia Tech in 2016. I am developing novel treatments and bioassays for mood and cognitive related mental disorders so that we can systematically diagnose and effectively treat them.
To date, I have performed studies on rodents based on mechanisms identified from human samples to examine how stress alters immune and neuroendocrine modulation of behavior. My ongoing studies investigate how cytokines, leukocytes and hormones functionally contribute to neuronal plasticity and the onset of stress and cognitive related disorders. I have published over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts within the field of stress and neurobiology and received 2 Young Investigator awards from the Brain and Behavior research foundation. In summary, I have a demonstrated record of successful and productive research projects to better understand the biological basis of stress susceptibility and its impact on mental health.