- Research Program Mentor
PhD candidate at University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
Neural systems and circuits; Neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin); Circuits underlying neuropharmacology and neuropsychiatric disease; Neuroscience of behavior and perception; Drug discovery; Intersection between art and science; Photography
BioHi! My name is Natalie and I’m currently a PhD student in the Neuroscience program at the University of California, Berkeley. My current research focuses on the neural circuits that underlie mood and neuropsychiatric disease. I study neurotransmitters in the brain (serotonin and dopamine) that regulate mood, reward, and social behavior. Using synergistic methodologies, I am researching the neuronal networks implicated in motivated behavior to provide insight into the underpinnings of mood disorders such depression and anxiety. Before starting my PhD, I worked at a biotechnology company in NYC mapping gut-brain circuits to discover drug targets to treat diseases of high unmet need. My undergraduate research at Williams College focused on the neural correlates that regulate hunger. Broadly, I am interested in investigating neuronal networks that encode various aspects of motivated behavior and perception. I also enjoy studying photography and printing in a darkroom (film photography). I was trained by the master printer for Annie Leibovitz at Rolling Stone magazine and by fine arts photographers who received an MFA from Yale. I am interested in the intersection between art, science, and philosophy, particularly as it pertains to perceptual experience and emotion.
Mapping the Brain
How can we identify circuits in the brain that underlie specific behaviors and what tools can we use to do this? Often, a behavior or sensation can feel like magic. Pick any phenomenon that you experience that feels mysterious to you and we can work together together to hypothesize how your brain is generating this perception. Examples: Why does this chocolate taste sweet? How does my brain tell me when I'm full? Why do I feel addicted to my favorite song? This project can result in a "pop science" podcast or review article to showcase your science writing or communication skills.