Ciarra Whindleton

Entering Class - 2023

E-MAIL:  [email protected]

Undergraduate Institution and Major:

University of Virginia, B.A. in Biology, 2021


Patrick Rothwell, PhD., Department of Neuroscience 
Sade Spencer, PhD., Department of Pharmacology 
Kevin Wickman, PhD., Department of Pharmacology

Undergraduate Research

In undergrad, I worked under Dr. Michael Scott to research the neural circuitry that controls food-intake, novelty seeking, and impulsivity. My main project, under the supervision of a graduate student in the lab, investigated the cell-type selective regulation that vasoactive intestinal peptide expressing interneurons in the medial prefrontal cortex had on palatable food intake and novelty seeking behavior. Following undergrad, I joined Dr. Clyde Hodge’s lab at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a laboratory technician/lab manager. Their research primarily focuses on understanding the mechanisms behind alcohol-induced plasticity in the brain that leads to abuse. My personal project in the lab researched how the transmembrane AMPA regulatory protein subtype, TARP γ-8, is required for the induction and expression of locomotor sensitization to cocaine and morphine.

Undergraduate Publications


  • Hoffman JL, Faccidomo SP, Taylor SM, DeMiceli KG, May AM, Smith EN, Whindleton CM, Hodge CW. Negative modulation of AMPA receptors bound to transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory protein γ-8 blunts the positive reinforcing properties of alcohol and sucrose in a brain region-dependent manner in male mice. Psychopharmacology. 2023 Jun;240(6):1261-1273. 
  • Echeveste Sanchez M, Quadir SG, Whindleton CM, Hoffman JL, Faccidomo SP, Guhr Lee TN, Esther CR Jr, Hodge CW, Herman MA. The effects of electronic nicotine vapor on voluntary alcohol consumption in female and male C57BL/6 J mice. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022 Dec 1;241:109676. 


  • Newmyer BA*, Whindleton CM*, Srinivasa N, Jones MK, Scott MM. Genetic variation affects binge feeding behavior in female inbred mouse strains. Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 31;9(1):15709. *Denotes equal contribution 
  • Newmyer BA, Whindleton CM, Klein PM, Beenhakker MP, Jones MK, Scott MM. VIPergic neurons of the infralimbic and prelimbic cortices control palatable food intake through separate cognitive pathways. JCI Insight. 2019 Apr 2;5(9):e126283.

Why did you choose Minnesota?

I chose Minnesota because of the wide range of amazing research being conducted at the University. There were many labs here that fit my research interests, making it easy to know that I would be able to find a lab to join at the end of rotations. When I came to visit during admitted students weekend, I could just feel how supportive of an environment the GPN was. From both faculty and current students, I felt very welcome and that everyone wanted each other to succeed. I also loved the collaborative nature of the program, as I was considering the possibility of having a co-mentorship.

Picture of Ciarra Whindleton