We offer interdisciplinary training of investigators to consider behavior from multiple levels of analysis, from molecular and cellular events to behavioral outcomes in a social context. Because social interactions can be tremendously complex, we must select a wide range of models to take advantage of those specific influences of one individual upon the brain and behavior of another. As examples, we study: maternal stimulation of neonates in rats, mice, and voles; social modulation of puberty in rats, Syrian hamsters and Siberian hamsters; as well as mating behaviors in a variety of vertebrates. Most of these models also reflect the influence of hormones upon neural structure and behavior because hormones mediate many social signals, and because hormones affect myriad targets in the body, including the brain, to coordinate social behavior.
These hormone-sensitive systems permit us to study molecular events, too: secretion of specific hormones, activation of hormone receptor proteins, hormonal modulation of gene expression in the nervous system, nuclear co-factor proteins regulating hormone responsiveness, environmental contaminants altering reproductive behavior, brain peptides regulating parental behaviors, among others. This integration of information, from molecular to social events and back again, must be accomplished for any satisfying understanding of behavior. We have assembled a unique program to train the next generation of researchers to tackle the challenge of studying the contextual determinants of behavior.
If you are interested in this training program, you should contact the faculty member(s) with research interests closest to your own and ask how to join. We encourage individuals from under-represented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply.