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PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Biology, Neuroscience, Psychology
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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.

Modeling the effect of offspring age on maternal learning

Immediately after giving birth, moms rapidly learn to care for their offspring and also perform better on cognitively demanding learning tasks in this state. It is hypothesized that this cognitive improvement is in part due to low offspring age, since young offspring require more care and therefore effectively motivate mothers to learn to improve their maternal behaviors. This project would consist of building a model to predict how maternal learning is impacted by offspring age (a rough proxy for maternal motivation). Terms in the model and their weights can be decided using existing datasets in species such as mice (and potentially humans). After building the model, it can be assessed using existing behavioral data from moms performing tasks across different offspring ages. Needed materials simply include data (which can easily be found in the literature). Basic math skills are helpful, but assignments can begin at any level as the model can be flexible in terms of complexity.

Coding skills

Basic MatLab and Python (for statistical tests and data visualization)