Our Team

CURRENT TEAM

Primary Investigator

David Weinshenker, Ph.D.
dweinshenker@genetics.emory.edu
Click here to view Dr. Weinshenker's biography

Professor, Department of Human Genetics
Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program
Scientific Director, Rodent Behavioral Core

Staff Scientists

Jason Schroeder, Ph.D.
jpschro@emory.edu

Scientist, School of Medicine
Technical Director, Rodent Behavioral Core

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Daniel Manvich, Ph.D.
dmanvic@emory.edu

My main research focus is to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying stress-induced drug relapse. To this end, we recently developed a novel model of drug relapse in which drug-seeking behavior is elicited via exposure to social defeat, an ethologically-valid psychosocial stressor in rats. I am currently combining immunohistochemical and chemogenetic approaches to determine the neuroanatomical substrates underlying this novel drug-seeking response.

Kirsten Porter-Stransky, Ph.D.
kaporte@emory.edu

My research focuses on catecholaminergic circuits in the brain and how they mediate motivated behaviors. One of my current projects investigates the role of locus coeruleus - ventral periaqueductal gray circuitry in modulating arousal and how dysfunctions of this circuit may be responsible for the excessive sleepiness which occurs in Parkinson's disease. My other project is examining how the protein beta-arrestin2 in nucleus accumbens neurons containing D1 or D2 dopamine receptors contributes to the behavioral effects of drugs of abuse.

Jacki Rorabaugh, Ph.D.
jacki.m.rorabaugh@emory.edu

My project examines whether activating the locus coeruleus, a crucial source of norepinephrine and neurotrophic factors to the forebrain,  can alleviate the cognitive deficits and neuropathology seen in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. We are able to selectively activate the locus coeruleus through viral expression of a stimulatory Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD). We hope this work will provide the basic science backbone for using DREADD- and locus coeruleus-focused therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Graduate Students

Stephanie Foster
stephanie.lynn.foster@emory.edu

I am interested in exploring alternative therapies for drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. My current project is testing whether unexpected, high-value natural rewards can curb reinforced cocaine-seeking and relapse-like behaviors in rats. By using operant conditioning and in vivo fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to correlate behavior with real-time dopamine release, we hope to learn how behavioral modifications can alter the value of different types of reward.

Rachel Pearcy
rachel.c.pearcy@emory.edu

I'm broadly interested in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders. My project currently focuses on determining how hyperactivity of the noradrenergic locus coeruleus (LC) and release of the neuropeptide galanin from the LC may mediate depressive behavior. By using DREADDs and optogenetics in combination with various mouse strains with altered  norepinephrine or galanin transmission, we hope to elucidate the role of the LC and galanin in depression.

Sydney Rowson
sydney.anne.rowson@emory.edu

I am interested in sex-differences in the regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor following exposure to chronic adolescent stress, and how these changes may contribute to behavior. My project uses an adolescent stress paradigm in male and female rats to elucidate the long-term impact on glucocorticoid receptor regulation, focusing specifically the interaction of the glucocorticoid receptor and one of its co-chaperones FKBP5. In future studies I hope to determine how exposure to chronic adolescent stress impacts the behavioral effects of drugs of abuse.

Laboratory Technicians

Canaan Jerome
canaan.jerome@emory.edu

Senior Research Specialist
Department of Human Genetics

Undergraduate Students

Christian Botz-Zapp
christian.botz-zapp@emory.edu

Latha Karne
saumya.latha.karne@emory.edu

ALUMNI

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Booke Bourdelat-Parks
bbparks@gmail.com

Director of Science Education
Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga

Darlene Mitrano, Ph.D.
darlene.mitrano@cnu.edu

Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology & Chemistry
Christopher Newport University

Graduate Students

Termpanit (Natty) Chalermpalanupap
tchaler@emory.edu

Medical Associate
The Scienomics Groups

Debra Cooper, Ph.D.
debra.cooper@ccst.us

Principal Consultant
California Senate Appropriations Committee

Alisha Epps, Ph.D.
aepps@whitworth.edu

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Whitworth University

Meriem Gaval-Cruz, Ph.D.
meriem.gaval@gmail.com

Regulatory Science Specialist
Cote Orphan, LLC

Heather Mitchell, Ph.D.
hmitchell@wisc.edu

Behavioral Core Manager, Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Yvonne Ogbonmwan
yogbonm@emory.edu

Postdoctoral Fellow, Grady Trauma Project
Emory University

Karen Rommelfanger, Ph.D.
krommel@emory.edu

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology
Director, Neuroethics Program, Center for Ethics
Emory University

Jesse Schank, Ph.D.
jschank@uga.edu

Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology & Pharmacology
University of Georgia

Karl Schmidt, Ph.D.
karl.t.schmidt@gmail.com

Postdoctoral Fellow, McElligott Lab
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Kroshona Tabb, Ph.D.
Kroshona.Tabb@va.gov

Program Specialist, Geriatrics and Extended Care
Birmingham VA Medical Center

Undergraduate Students

Brice Bowerman
brice.bowerman@gmail.com

Medical Student
Medical College of Georgia

Anjani Chitrapu, M.D.
anjanichitrapu@gmail.com

Pediatric Neurology Resident
Cincinnati Children's Medical Center

Patrick Curtin
pbcurtin@gmail.com

Medical Student
Boston University School of Medicine

Vanessa Fu
vfu@emory.edu

Medical Student
University of Louisville School of Medicine

Katharine Henry
katharine.henry@nih.gov

Postbaccalaureate, NIHM

Natalie Lembeck
natalie.lembeck@gmail.com

Research Assistant
Johns Hopkins University

Jennifer Leveille
jen.leveille@emory.edu

Lead Research Specialist
Emory Integrated Genomics Core Lab

Sharon Lin, M.D.
sharonjlin@gmail.com

Otolaryngology Resident
UC Davis Medical Center

Andrew Mezher
andrewmezher@gmail.com

Medical Student
Creighton University

Daniel Puttick
daniel.puttick@gmail.com

Programmer, Recurse Center

Pamela Romero
promero@emory.edu

Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology Major
Emory University

Taylor Stowe
tstowe@wakehealth.edu

Graduate Student, Physiology & Pharmacology
Wake Forest University

Wendy Xiao
wnd.xiao@gmail.com

M.D./Ph.D. Candidate
Yale School of Medicine

Eagan Zettlemoyer
ezettle93@gmail.com

Research Specialist
Emory University