I received my PhD from the University of Iowa, under Dr. Mark Blumberg. My dissertation focused on the development of state-dependent cortical activity in infant rats. I did my postdoctoral research at the University of California, Davis, under Dr. Leah Krubitzer. There I studied cortical development and evolution in a variety of mammalian species, including rats, prairie voles, short-tailed opossums, and macaques.
The neocortex is responsible for how we perceive and react to stimuli in our world. Within the neocortex there are specific regions that are associated with sensory modalities. The size, shape, and organization of each of these areas can subtly change as a result of experience. My current research investigates how a particular type of early experience (i.e., parental care) influences cortical organization. One factor that may play a role in the modification of cortical organization is the neuropeptide oxytocin. By manipulating the amount and type of parental care, as well as administering oxytocin at different developmental timepoints, we can determine how these early experiences can influence how the neocortex is put together.