San Diego, California, United States
I have been fascinated by science for as long as I can remember, and wanted to be a scientist from a young age. My passion for neuroscience emerged during my undergraduate studies at the University of Leeds, U.K., where I studied Medical Sciences. That degree gave me a solid foundation in core biomedical subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, with elements of microbiology and endocrinology. During my undergraduate work I found myself increasingly drawn to understanding the intricacies brain function in both healthy and diseased states. I was especially excited about the module “CNS physiology”, taught by Dr. Zaineb Henderson, and was subsequently able to secure an undergraduate 3-month laboratory project in her lab. This led to my placement in her laboratory for Ph.D. studies. Here I examined nicotinic receptors in the adult brain and their involvement in a range of neuropsychiatric disorders using various experimental techniques including extracellular field recordings, whole-cell patch clamp, immunofluorescence, and cell culture techniques. This experience provided the foundation for my future career plans in nicotinic research and the study of tobacco-related diseases.
After finishing my PhD, I joined Prof. Darwin Berg’s lab at UCSD where I am currently a postoctoral researcher. Initially I continued working on nicotinic signaling and how it is important in adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus. The entire research group is focused on understanding how nicotinic receptors function and what they do in the brain both under normal conditions and when excessively activated as in the case of nicotine exposure. This is vital to identifying and understanding the nature of tobacco-related diseases, and discovering strategies for early detection and treatment. My current research interests in nicotinic signaling have expanded considerably and are now centered on how exposure to nicotine during development can alter the circuitry an function of the brain. I am interested in both the short-term developmental effects, and also the long-term effects that last into adulthood. The latter is particularly interesting and potentially of major importance biomedically.