Summer Undergraduate Research Mentored Experience

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Dr. Kyung-An Han

Department of Biological Sciences

Neural, cellular and molecular basis of behavioral plasticity

Preferred major field of study or minimum required skills

  • Preferred majors: Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Chemistry, or Computer Sciences
  • No special skills required

Scholarly significance/intellectual merit

Dr. Han's lab research currently focuses on monoamine systems (e.g. dopamine and octopamine) and investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms crucial for distinct behavioral plasticity including learning, memory and drug addiction, and underlying neural circuits. Abnormal dopamine functions underlie ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and drug abuse/addiction. Han lab research contributes to better understanding of the pathogenesis mechanisms and interventions for dopamine-related disorders.

Research question(s)

  1. How are natural stimuli (e.g. food)- and drug-induced (e.g. alcohol) memories formed and maintained?
  2. What are the distinct features of reward vs. aversive memories?
  3. Are active vs. passive memories formed by similar mechanisms?
  4. Do the memories of olfactory vs. visual information involve distinct players?
  5. Why does alcohol intake cause cognitive and motor impulsivity?

Methods/techniques/instruments to be learned/utilized

Dr. Han's lab uses molecular, immunohistochemical, pharmacological, genetic, optogeneitc, transgenic, behavioral, and statistical analyses in the fruit fly Drosphila as a model system,  offering excellent multidisciplinary learning, training and education. Drosophila is a powerful model organism due to its well-characterized genetics, fully sequenced genome, and sophisticated nervous system.

Program Coordinator

Joseph Ramos - SURME Program Coordinator

Joseph "Joe" Ramos

Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives

(915) 747-6210