• Source: Scopus
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20122021

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Personal profile

Biography

I was awarded my PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience from the University of New South Wales. After this I moved to Melbourne to work as a post-doc in the Behavioural Neuroscience division at Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, working with Andrew Lawrence and Jee Hyun Kim. My primary research interest has always been addiction, particularly why relapse is such a pervasive problem for substance use disorders. During my PhD and first postdoc, I used animal models to characterise part of the circuitry that subserves inhibition and relapse to drug-seeking. In 2015 I was awarded an early career fellowship from the Society for Mental Health Research, then in 2016 I was awarded a dementia research development fellowship from NHMRC/ARC. These have allowed me to develop a new program of research, looking at how chronic alcohol use interacts with the normal cognitive changes that occur with ageing, and how this impacts on the prospect of rehabilitation. This project is ongoing as part of a collaboration with Professor Andrew Lawrence at Florey (funded through NHMRC project grant 2019-2022). I am also interested in studying how the zona incerta is involved in extinction of conditioned fear, and lead an ARC discovery grant that is looking to unravel this circuit.  

Research interests

My broad research interests involve understanding the neural circuits that underpin learning, memory and motivation. This includes understanding how and why we learn drug-seeking behaviours and how we learn to inhibit them, as well as how we learn about which contexts predict threat, and which signal safety. 

My particular research interests are

  • How chronic alcohol intake effects cognition and motivation to seek alcohol.
  • Whether exercise can reduce relapse to alcohol-seeking behaviour.
  • The role of the zona incerta in inihibition (extinction) of learned fear. 

Teaching

PSYCH4461/PSYM7761 Advanced Topics in Physiological Psychology (Co-convener and Lecturer)

PSYU2236/PSYX2236 Biopsychology of Learning (Guest Lecturer)

MEDI7004 Decoding the Brain (Guest Lecturer)

Research student supervision

I supervise Honours, Masters and PhD candidates. I have projects available looking at the effect of voluntary exercise on relapse to alcohol-seeking, and on the role of the Zona Incerta in extinction of conditioned fear. 

Education/Academic qualification

Behavioural Neuroscience, PhD, University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Award Date: 21 Aug 2012

External positions

Honorary, Florey Neurosci Inst, Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health

1 Jan 202131 Dec 2022

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