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Behavior and Neuroscience Group

Impact of environmental exposures on neurodevelopment, brain and behavior

Research broadly focuses on interactions between the brain and the environment. Some examples of specific environment stressors studied include diet, drugs, neurotoxicants, flame retardants, cyanotoxin mixtures and toxic metals. Consequences include altered neurodevelopment, behavior, addiction, and transgenerational and sex specific effects.

Main goal: Increase research collaborations, grant submissions and enhance trainee presentation skills.

Group Leader

Rissman, Emilie
Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
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We are interested in the biology of sex differences particularly as they apply to behavior. Our current NIDA-funded research examines hormonal and genetic contributions to sex differences in acquisition to cocaine-venerability suing a self-administration paradigm in mice. We use a number of genetically engineered mice to test candidate genes along with standard molecular methods.


Belcher, Scott
Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
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Current research using transgenic/knockout mouse models of human disease focuses on assessing the mechanisms and impacts of estradiol and estrogen-like endocrine disruptors on cardiovascular health, reproductive health, and the etiology of childhood brain cancers.

Binder, Andrew
Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication
Co-Director, Community Engagement Core
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Dr. Binder’s research focuses on people’s concerns related to science, technology, and risk and understanding how people make sense of these topics. His published research has focused on a variety of issues, from public opinion of climate change, to social media conversations about nuclear power, and to community controversies surrounding the building of a new national biological research facility in the mainland United States. He coordinates scholarly exchanges of ideas between Center members and other researchers at NC State, consults with Center members on the integration of community engagement into their research projects, and trains Center members in social science perspectives on environmental health research.

Gaddameedhi, Shobhan 
Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
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Dr. Shobhan Gaddameedhi received his PhD from North Dakota State University and pursued his post-doctoral training at the University of North Carolina. His laboratory studies the mechanisms by which the circadian clock regulates the environmental health outcomes through ‘gene-environment’ interactions and identifies the molecular mechanisms by which circadian disruption influences genomic instability, skin and cardiovascular toxicity, and environmental carcinogenesis outcomes. He hopes to use these findings to identify disease preventive mechanisms and therapeutic treatments for environmental diseases.

Ghashghaei, H. Troy
Professor, Dept. of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
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Projects in our laboratory are focused on developmental neurobiology: 1. Development and aging of the adult stem cells and their ependymal niche in the forebrain. We use mouse genetics in combination with molecular, biochemical, and cell biological approaches to address fundamental questions regarding the functional significance of ependymal cells during development and aging. 2. Role of cell cycle regulators in symmetric and asymmetric divisions of neural stem cells in the developing and postnatal brain. We use mouse genetics, biochemical assays, and state-of-the-art imaging tools to understand mechanisms that regulate the decision of neural stem cells to divide symmetrically or asymmetrical in the embryonic and postnatal stem cell niches.

Keung, Albert
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
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My lab is a synthetic biology group that harnesses the information-rich epigenome to understand disease biology and to enable broader biotechnological and cellular engineering applications. We work across multiple biological systems from in vitro systems and yeast, to human stem cells and organoids.

Lucas, Beth
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Molecular Biomedical Sciences
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Research in the Lucas Lab is driven by a passion to improve the lives of people with mental illness. We conduct preclinical research in animal models to understand the mechanisms underlying individual susceptibility to psychiatric illness, with an emphasis on affective and memory disorders. Our laboratory integrates concepts and techniques from multiple disciplines, including psychology, anatomy, physiology, molecular biology, and endocrinology. This multiscale approach enables us to understand how systems interact to influence the brain’s control of behavior in normal and pathological states.

Marsden, Kurt
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
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The overarching goal of the Marsden lab is to better understand the processes underlying neurological and psychiatric disease by uncovering genetic and environmental factors that impact the development of neural circuits and behavior. Using zebrafish as our model system, we take a variety of experimental approaches including gene expression analysis, high-throughput behavioral testing, 3- and 4-D analysis of neural circuits, simultaneous imaging of neuronal activity and behavior, and optogenetic techniques.

Mattingly, Carolyn J.
Professor/Head, Dept. of Biological Sciences
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The goal of my research program is to improve understanding about environmental influences on human health and disease using different approaches including: development of the publicly available Comparative Toxicogenomics Database and using the zebrafish model to understand how environmental exposures perturb vertebrate development.

May, Katlyn 
Co-Director, Community Engagement Core
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I am a community engagement practitioner with the Community Engagement Cores for CHHE and the Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS. I am currently completing my doctoral work in Science Education, focusing on informal and non-formal learning interventions related to environmental health literacy (EHL). My research interests include EHL, public perceptions of environmental health, program evaluation, and effective science communication strategies.

Meitzen, John
Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
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We study how neuromodulators change neuron function, especially within the context of sex differences. Particularly focus upon the actions of steroid sex hormones such as estradiol, and a brain region called the striatum. In the lab, we combine multiple approaches, with a strong emphasis on electrophysiological techniques.

Muddiman, David
Professor, Dept. of Chemistry
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The ultimate goals of our work are to quantitatively define biology and understand the role of individuality across a wide range of diseases. Our program requires a significant level of interaction with clinicians, basic scientists including biologists and chemists, statisticians as well as maintaining a large interdisciplinary group of scientists within our group driving innovations including advanced separations, state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, and bioinformatics.

Patisaul, Heather B.
Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
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Our laboratory examines how endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) impact sexually dimorphic neuroendocrine pathways and behaviors. We are particularly interested in how developmental exposures can alter hormone-dependent pathways and explore this using a variety of animal models including rats, mice and voles.  Our ongoing research is investigating the mechanisms by which early life exposure to EDCs including BPA and fire retardants alter social behaviors associated with mental health disorders such as autism.

Planchart, Antonio
Associate Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Email Personal website

Research in the Planchart lab is focused on the interplay between genetics and environment as a driver of developmental disorders and disease. Dr. Planchart is especially interested in the role of emerging contaminants in developmental, metabolic and neurological disorders of unknown genetic origin. His lab’s interdisciplinary work leverages the zebrafish model for its genetic tractability and well-characterized developmental strategies of which the majority are conserved with humans. Dr. Planchart is also a member of the Superfund Center for Environmental and Human Health Effects of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), and is investigating the toxic effects of PFAS in the zebrafish model.