Assistant Professor Psychology
Office Location: 426 Olin Hall
Because of the rotation of the Earth around its axis, the environment of all organisms on Earth changes dramatically each and every day. Organisms have evolved internal timing systems that enable them to anticipate these daily environmental changes and optimizing daily rhythms in physiology and behavior. In mammals, this internal clock (circadian) system consists of molecular transcription-translation feedback loops in every cell that control all aspects of an organism’s physiology & behavior. Synchrony between cells in different parts of the body is maintained by the master clock located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus.
The research in our lab aims to elucidate the mechanisms as well as the costs and benefits associated with disruption of circadian control of physiology & behavior. For this, we try to understand how disruption of specific aspects of the circadian machinery impacts how health and wellbeing is affected by living in the modern 24/7 societies that disrupt our endogenous clock systems.
To assess this question, our lab assesses the physiology and behavior of mice with genetically altered characteristics of specific clocks in the body in response to changes of the rhythmic environment. In conjunction, we study the fundamental properties of rhythmic clock systems using computational models of the SCN. By doing so, we try to identify the specific aspects of circadian disruption that are responsible for the adverse consequences of circadian disruption in our modern society and understand why the circadian system evolved the way it did.