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Chelsea B

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)


Neuroscience, addiction, evolutionary biology


Hi, I'm Chelsea! I'm currently a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Santa Barbara working on an interdisciplinary project between the Biopsychology and Chemistry departments to develop aptamer-based sensors that can continuously monitor drug levels in vivo with high temporal resolution. I recently completed my PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience, which involved using mouse models to investigate how changes in brain function affect behavioral outcomes. My research focuses on addiction, specifically methamphetamine use disorder, so my dissertation research used molecular techniques to modify processes in mouse brains and then measure how their responses to methamphetamine are altered. My background is in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, and I've worked on researching the evolution of the brain, autism, and Alzheimer's disease before starting my projects on addiction and the reward system. I'm hoping to use the aptamer technology to advance our knowledge of the addicted brain as well as develop other clinical applications of continuous drug monitoring. Outside of the lab, I love to swim, bake, read, and hang out with my cats. My cat babies, Lara and Pepper, are the loves of my life and often join Zoom calls! During the pandemic, I jumped on the sourdough starter train and now bake bread every chance I get.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Seeing the future: genetic contributions to Alzheimer's Disease

Taking care of an elderly loved one who has Alzheimer's Disease is emotionally difficult for many reasons, one of which can be the anxiety that you will one day suffer from the same condition they are. Some cases of Alzheimer's seem to be hereditary, while others do not. What are the differences between these types of the disease, and what do we know about the genes that affect Alzheimer's risk? How can this knowledge help family members prepare and scientists develop treatments?

Reward and Punishment: how a necessary evolutionary mechanism can hijack the brain

The reward system is part of the brain that teaches us what behavior we should repeat. It makes sure that we have motivation to eat, to reproduce, to sleep, to drink water, to exercise. But for some people, their reward systems teach them to be motivated for the wrong things: sometimes drugs of abuse, or behavior that is counterproductive. How can we use our knowledge of the reward system to help people suffering from disorders like addiction or ADHD?

Teaching experience

In addition to my 8 years of experience teaching college courses as well as 6 years mentoring research assistants, I have also been a research mentor for several programs at my university. I've worked with students in our California Alliance for Minority Participation, which mentors students underrepresented in STEM fields, UC Leadership Excellence Through Advanced Degrees, which helps transfer students, and my department's mentorship program which pairs grad students with undergraduates who are working toward applying to graduate school. I'm honored to say that this experience has culminated in being awarded my university's Goodchild Graduate Mentoring Award.


Work experience

University of California, Santa Barbara (2022 - Current)
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of California, Santa Barbara (2014 - 2021)
Graduate Student Researcher, Teaching Assistant, Associate Instructor
California Alliance for Minority Participation, UC Leadership Excellence Through Advanced Degrees (2018 - 2019)
Graduate Student Mentor
University of California, San Diego (2012 - 2014)
Teaching Assistant, Research Fellow


University of California San Diego (UCSD)
BS Bachelor of Science (2014)
Physiology and Neuroscience, Biological Anthropology
University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2021)
Behavioral Neuroscience

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