UNDERGRAD INSTITUTION AND MAJOR:
Saint Anselm College, B.A. Biology, 2014
Anna Lee, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology
THESIS COMMITTEE MEMBERS
- Marija Cvetanovic, PhD, Department of Neuroscience (chair)
- Anna Lee, PhD, Department of Pharmacology (advisor)
- Kevin D. Wickman, PhD, Department of Pharmacology
- Patrick Rothwell, PhD, Department of Neuroscience
DESCRIPTION OF GRADUATE RESEARCH
The Lee lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms of alcohol and nicotine abuse, which are two of the most commonly abused substances. These drugs are often co-abused, and both nicotine and alcohol require activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) to elicit a reward response. Our laboratory investigates the interaction between alcohol, nicotine, and nAChRs in mesolimbic reward circuitry. My graduate research involves delineating the role of nAChR subunits in subtypes of ventral tegmental area neurons using a combination of viral gene delivery strategies, mouse models of alcohol and nicotine reward, drugs targeting nAChR subtypes, and DA excitability and release.
- Neuroscience of Drug Abuse & Addiction
- Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience
GRADUATE LEVEL AWARDS AND HONORS:
- 3M Science and Technology Fellowship, 2015
- National Institute on Drug Abuse Predoctoral Training Grant, 2017
- Kevin Wickman, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology
- Stan Thayer, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology
- Lorene Lanier, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
- Mentorship Committee, 2017-current
- Admissions Committee, Student Representative, 2017-current
OTHER COMMITTEE INVOLVEMENT
- Graduate Student Benefits Committee, 2017
- Brain Awareness Week
- Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, MN (November 2016)
- Jefferson High School, Alexandria, MN (December 2016)
- Minnesota Academy of Sciences: Science Bowl, St. Paul, MN
- Middle school score keeper (January 2016)
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN RESEARCH?
I've always loved science and medicine, and for a long time I wanted to be a clinician. Once I went to college, I realized my true passion was the science behind medical advancements, and I completed a full-time summer internship to see what a career in research might be like. I absolutely loved it and decided that graduate school, and a career in biomedical research, was the right fit for me.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MN?
I chose UMN for several reasons, the first and foremost being the very clear dedication the program has to the education and well-being of their students. It is a nationally ranked program with faculty members that are heavily invested in their students. I wanted a school that cared my scientific achievements as well as my professional development. The graduate students were also a cohesive and welcoming body, and it was comforting to know they would be a great resource for us not only for academic advice but personal advice as well. The course-heavy nature of the first year of this program was also a considerable factor, as I had no neuroscience experience coming into my first year and needed a strong foundation in the subject before beginning my PhD thesis work. Finally, Itasca was the perfect opportunity to learn about neuroscience while getting to know my classmates in a low-stress environment.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A FIRST YEAR GRADUATE STUDENT?
Study hard, but give yourself time to relax and have fun. Your brain will thank you!