Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, has awarded Christina Ragan a $1,000 (USD) grant to fund her research through their Grant-in-Aid of Research program.
Christina is a fifth year Neuroscience student in Sonia Cavigelli’s lab. Her research is investigating early predictors of anxiety-related behavior and physiology using a rodent model. In humans, stable childhood behavioral inhibition, or shyness, predicts adult anxiety disorders. Her lab uses a rodent model of behavioral inhibition to measure different health outcomes. They measure serotonin transporter (SERT) expression which is a target for common anti-depressants like Prozac. They test mice on their novelty arenas where one exposes them to novel objects and the other exposes them to a novel mouse at post-weaning and adulthood and measure their latency to approach novelty. Christina hypothesizes that the animals that were slow to approach novelty, like shy kids, will have lower SERT expression than the animals that were fast to approach novelty. Observing the connection between early behavior and adult physiology will allow them to better understand the mechanisms underlying the relationship between early behavioral inhibition and adult-anxiety disorders.
The Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research program has a highly competitive application process and only approximately 20% of applicants receive any level of funding.
Sonia Cavigelli, advisor
for Christina Ragan