My teaching interests lie in the study and understanding of complex behaviors and the contribution of internal and external stimuli in the expression of those behaviors. My perspective in psychology follows from the theories and models of behavioral neuroscience and comparative psychology. I regularly teach undergraduate courses in Introductory Psychology, Introduction to Substance Use and Abuse, Scientific Inquiry, Advance Research Methods and more recently, Psychopharmacology and Freshman Seminar ("Mind and Brain"). Less frequently taught courses include special topics courses in pain and analgesia, psychoneurochemistry, biological theories of addiction, and the biological bases of social behaviors.
My research focuses on neural mechanisms that underlie the behavior and behavioral adaptations associated with substance abuse, maternal behavior, and pain behavior. More specifically, I have been studying the role of neuropeptide Y, a neurotransmitter in the brain, in motivation to seek and take cocaine that persists even after long periods of abstinence and the role of endogenous opioid neurotransmission during the birthing process to reduce pain behavior and facilitate maternal behavior.