Natalie Lopresti (Steenrod)

Entering Class - 2016


Undergraduate Institution and Major:

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Graduate Advisor:

Paul Mermelstein, PhD, Department of Neuroscience
Mark Thomas, PhD, Departments of Neuroscience and Psychology

Thesis Committee Members:

Paul Mermelstein, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Ben Hayden, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience 
Julia Lemos, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience 
Mark Thomas, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience and Psychology
Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D., Deparment of Neuroscience

Description of Graduate Research:

My graduate research focuses on the connection between estrogen and addiction. Women are more likely to become addicted than men, and recent research has suggested that this is due to levels of estrogen in the female body. My work is looking to see if estrogen is able to alter the functional connectivity in the nucleus accumbens reward pathway.

Research Categories:

  • Neuroendocrine and Homeostatic Systems
  • Neuroscience of Drug Abuse and Addiction


Michael Lee, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Esther Krook-Magnuson, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Marija Cvetanovic, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Mark Thomas, Ph.D., Departments of Neuroscience and Psychology
Paul Mermelstein, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

GPN Committees:

  • Social Media Committee, 2017-2018
  • Recruitment and Marketing Committee, 2016-Present
  • Recruitment and Marketing Subcommittee, 2016-Present

What Got You Interested In Research?

I have always been curious about the world around me, and was encouraged to ask questions and expand my knowledge base throughout my childhood. Eventually, a genetics class in high school convinced me that I was interested in life science.

Why Did You Choose MN?

The University of Minnesota was my number one choice. I was excited about Itasca, our four week long introduction to neuroscience course during the month of August up at Lake Itasca, as well as the close-knit community of both students and faculty. During student presentations, faculty and students knew each other by name and were conversing as equals, which showed me that this program wanted to teach you how to be a scientist, as well as help you understand that the faculty here will eventually be your colleagues. There are also opportunities to explore career paths other than academia.

Student Mentor and the Best Advice They Gave:

Julia Gamache: The key to the first year is finding the balance between classes and lab. The other important thing is that the faculty mentor is ultimately the most important thing in picking a lab. The research needs to be interesting, but if you don’t get along with your PI, it will be a miserable 5+ years.

Favorite Itasca Memory:

My favorite memory from Itasca is the cohort paddle boarding on Lake Itasca together. We took out 8 paddleboards and one kayak and went out into the middle of the lake. We then attached them all together using the ankle straps on the paddleboards, and then jumped into the water to enjoy the sun and company of the cohort.

Steenrod Lopresti