Robert Wickham smiles

I study: I am a behavioral neuroscientist who studies how menthol, found in cigarettes and vapes, alters basic cognitive functioning and influences nicotine’s addictive potential. 

Why? Personally, many members of my family smoked menthol cigarettes and had a really tough time quitting. We now know that those who smoke menthol cigarettes find it harder to quit compared to people who smoke non-mentholated cigarettes. Additionally, mentholated cigarettes are particularly marketed toward Black communities, so understanding the how and why menthol contributes to greater addictive potential of cigarettes and vapes will help an already marginalized community combat nicotine addiction.  

This fall I’m teaching: Physiological Psychology I and Physiological Psychology II

What students can expect of me: I strive to make what we learn in class explicitly relevant for the field (as in how you will use this as a neuroscientist, medical student, etc.) or why this is important more broadly (as in how this knowledge benefits society as a whole). In my classes, students will learn how to translate what is in their head (what you think you know) into oral or written communication (what you can show you know). This approach, I think, helps us find gaps in our knowledge. Ideas always sound better in our head until we try and say them out loud, only to find we are missing some pieces of the puzzle. 

I’m excited to be here because… I have an opportunity to engage with scholars—students and faculty—who appreciate the value of a liberal arts education. Neuroscience is highly intersectional—from molecular biology to philosophy and everything in between. Because we value being well rounded in a variety of disciplines, we have a unique opportunity to bring multiple perspectives, ideas, and innovations to this field. As such, I am excited to see how student interests can push or pull my research into different directions. 

Getting to know me: I am an avid runner and love going on spontaneous explorations around the Lehigh Valley with my family.

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