Nancy Michael (Staffend)

Ph.D. 2012

Thesis Title:

Structural Plasticity of the Mesolimbic System Associated With Female Sexual Reward

Current Position:

Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Neuroscience and Behavior, University of Notre Dame

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

Western Michigan University , BS, Biomedical Science, 2001

Major Advisor(s):

Robert Meisel, Ph.D.

Research Description:

My research interests focus on the neurobiology of naturally motivated behavior and how repeated rewarding behaviors can sensitize the mesolimbic dopamine system in a manner analogous to that of drugs of abuse.

Lab Rotations:

  • Dezhi Liao
  • Jonathan Gewirtz
  • David Redish
  • Robert Meisel

Conferences Attended and Presentations:

  • Society for Neuroscience annual meeting - Fall 2008, 2009
  • Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology - Summer 2009, 2010

Committee Members:

  • Paul Mermelstein - Chair
  • Robert Meisel - Advisor
  • Kirill Martemyanov
  • Mark Thomas

Selected Publications and Presentations:

  • Staffend NA, Hedges VL, Chemel BR, Watts VJ, Meisel RL.  Cell-type specific increases in female hamster nucleus accumbens spine density following female sexual experience.  Brain Struct Funct. 2014 Nov;219(6):2071-81.
  • Been LE, Staffend NA, Tucker A, Meisel RL. Vesicular glutamate transporter 2 and tyrosine hydroxylase are not co-localized in Syrian hamster nucleus accumbens afferents. Neurosci Lett. 2013;550:41-5.
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL.  Aggressive experience increases dendritic spine density within the nucleus accumbens core in female Syrian hamsters.  Neuroscience. 2012;227:163-9.
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. DiOlistic labeling in fixed brain slices: phenotype, morphology, and dendritic spines. Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2011 Apr;Chapter 2:Unit 2.13. 
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. DiOlistic labeling of neurons in tissue slices: a qualitative and quantitative analysis of methodological variations. Front Neuroanat. 2011 Mar 1;5:14. 
  • Staffend NA, Loftus CM, Meisel RL.  Estradiol reduces dendritic spine density in the ventral striatum of female Syrian hamsters. Brain Struct Funct. 2011;215(3-4):187-94. 
  • Hedges VL, Staffend NA, Meisel RL. Neural mechanisms of reproduction in females as a predisposing factor for drug addiction. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2010 Apr;31(2):217-31. 
  • Ryan KA, Weldon A, Huby NM, Persad C, Bhaumik AK, Heidebrink JL, Barbas N, Staffend NA, Franti L, Girodani B.  Caregiver support service needs for patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2010;24(2):171-6.

Awards and Honors:

  • Milne/Brandenburg Award - NRSA submission
  • Milne/Brandenburg Award - 1st author publication prior to the end of the third year
  • Appointee – NIDA Training Grant: T32 DA07234 Neuroscience Training in Drug Abuse Research

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Home Town:

  • Livonia , MI
Nancy Michael (Staffend)