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Neuroscience major Evan Grolley ’05 (East Glenville, N.Y.) spent 10 weeks in Atlanta this summer conducting research in his major with a Lafayette alumnus, and he’s now doing more research on campus with a Lafayette professor.

Grolley worked under the guidance of Jay Weiss ’62, professor of neuroscience at Emory University, who studies the neurochemical basis of mental illness by using animal models and examines the relationship between stress and the immune response.

Along with neuroscience major Ashlee Snyder ’05 (Gilbertsville, Pa.), the two studied rats with characteristics associated with bipolar disorder and compared them with rats without such characteristics. They sought to characterize brain activity by looking at a protein that gets expressed in activated neurons.

The selectively bred line, called hyperactive rats, is a model for clinical depression because of the response of these rats to stressing conditions, Grolley says.

Their results found that the hyperactive rates were initially more active than the other rats, but they became significantly less active after the first 20 minutes.

“This was surprising because it was expected that hyper rats would be less active throughout the experiment, since they are bred for this reaction to stress,” Grolley explains.

They also found significant differences between stressing conditions in almost all of the brain structures they observed.

Grolley got involved with the research through the Lafayette Alumni Research Network, which pairs a neuroscience student with an alumnus to conduct research over the summer. His options included research programs at Columbia University and the University of Louisiana.

“After my experience with the LEARN program I have a much better grasp of how research is conducted professionally,” he says. “As a result, I have a better idea for what I want to do with my degree after I graduate.”

Grolley is now working with Gabrielle Britton, assistant professor of psychology at Lafayette, on an advanced research project in cognitive neuroscience.

As a National Institute of Mental Health post-doctoral fellow at Indiana, Britton has explored the role of the amygdala fear system in associative motor learning in rats. She regularly presents her research at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meetings, and has co-authored research articles in Journal of Neuroscience, Brain Research, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, and Journal of Comparative Psychology. She received the Indiana University Teaching Excellence Award, as well as numerous pre-doctoral research awards.

A graduate of Niskayuna High School, Grolley participates in the Guitar Ensemble and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.

Categorized in: Academic News