I have 10 years of biomedical research experience working on projects ranging from novel hormone treatments for behavioral disorders to neuroimmune dysfunction at the blood brain barrier in response to metabolic disruptions. My training is in pre-clinical research, having worked with several animal models including rats, transgenic mice, and primates. I have extensive experience using different methods to evaluate neuroanatomical and physiological markers to understand the etiology of comorbid neurological and metabolic disorders.
I believe in a combined therapeutic strategy that includes pharmacological and psychological support, and this drives my work outside of academia. For example, I believe that environmental enrichment can drastically improve the health and quality of life of individuals that are affected by health disparities (historically Black, Indigenous, people of color, and people from the LGBTQ+ community). This is why I am currently leading projects in the outdoor industry focused on supporting people of historically marginalized groups.
I am the Program Director of All In Ice Fest— an ice climbing festival focused on supporting people of historically marginalized groups. Our mission and goal are founded on addressing the barriers that BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+, and Disabled people face in mountain sports. My role is to create an actionable plan to create an environment where people feel safe, seen and supported so they can focus on their outdoor pursuits.
I lead and oversee projects in the Scarpa Athlete Mentorship Initiative, a program to connect and engage the SCARPA Athlete team with accomplished athletes from historically marginalized communities aspiring to take their sport or career to the next level. I and work with staff to offer meaningful insight and develop strategic direction of future programs.
I earned my bachelor’s of science in Biological Psychology at the University of California, Davis in 2013, then was a research technician at the California National Primate Research Center until I joined the Kinzig research group at Purdue University in 2016. I earned my master’s of science in Dr. Kinzig’s lab in 2018 and continued on to earn my doctorate in neuroscience & behavior.
My master’s thesis work explored the therapeutic potential of ketogenic diets in response to chronic stress, as it has been hypothesized to improve mental health. Follow up experiments were conducted to understand the behavioral and neuroendocrine changes of individuals that consume diets high in fat and sugar, then switch to a ketogenic diet as a therapeutic intervention. We found that the benefits of consuming a ketogenic diet may be sex-specific, such that positive effects on females are contingent upon ketosis.
My dissertation work is in understanding how diets high in fat and sugar alter the blood-brain barrier in brain areas commonly associated with diet-induced neurocognitive deficits. I am using immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescent imaging to analyze blood-brain barrier disruption and neuroimmune mechanisms in male and female rats of different ages.