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Current Trainees

Rebecca Hagedorn

Rebecca is in her second year as a trainee on the training grant.  She is a third year PhD student in Animal and Food Sciences.  She works in the Lifestyle Intervention Research Lab, where they focus on lifestyle modifications to prevent chronic disease across the lifespan.  Her work specifically focuses on young adults in college who are food insecure, and behavioral differences driven by food insecurity.  “The training grant will allow me the opportunity to collaborate and train with clinicians and researchers outside of my field.  The behavioral aspects of the program will enrich my current training while the biomedical experiences will broaden my horizons to encompass basic science and create a multidisciplinary foundation necessary to tackle public health issues.” Rebecca’s advisor is Melissa Olfert. 

Kristen Trexler

Kristen is in her second year as a trainee on the training grant.  She is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Psychology, participating in the Behavioral Neuroscience Program.  Her lab focuses primarily on endocannabinoids, stress, and inflammation. Her projects focus on evaluating emotionality-related changes during cannabinoid withdrawal and identify compounds to attenuate behavioral changes during that withdrawal.  “Serving as a trainee on the BBS program offers me the opportunity to experience clinical immersion which will help to broaden my understanding of the applications of clinical work and allow me to think more creatively about my own research.  It also offers me training in important skills such as planning, communicating, and networking with individuals outside of my typical circle.”  Kristen’s advisor is Steven Kinsey. 

Rachel Hostetler

Rachel is in her first year as a trainee on the training grant.  She is a third year PhD student in the Neuroscience Program, within the Biomedical Sciences Program. Her lab focuses on uncovering the structure, function and development of the cerebral cortex. Her projects focus on investigating the diverse roles of cortical somatostatin-containing inhibitory interneurons, and how changes in their activity underlie associative learning. “Being on the training grant will give me the opportunity to work with researchers outside of my field. As a student in a biomedical focused program, having the chance to work with those involved in behavioral research will allow me to gain a more well-rounded understanding of my own project and will help me answer my research questions on a multifaceted level.” Rachel’s advisor is Ariel Agmon.

Amanda Stover

Amanda is in her first year as a trainee on the training grant.  She is a third year PhD student in the Health Services and Outcomes Research program in the School of Pharmacy. As part of her work with Dr. Erin Winstanley she studies substance use disorders specifically opioid overdose education and prevention. Her current research focuses on the relationship between substance use, mental health, and high-risk behaviors and environmental factors related to opioid abuse and suicide. “Being a trainee will provide me with the opportunity to experience new research methods and gain perspectives from a range of fields and researchers outside of my immediate field of research.  As a doctoral student, I look forward to building relationships with other students and faculty who can help me grow and broaden my research perspective to become a well-versed researcher.”

Lexie Schmidt

Lexie is in her first year as a trainee on the T32 and is about to begin her second year as a PhD student in the Department of Biology, emphasizing in neuroscience. Her lab studies specific genetic and environmental factors that regulate normal neural development and what occurs at molecular, neuroanatomical and behavioral levels when these factors are altered. Her research focuses on an early expressed homeobox gene relating to the development and function of visual neural circuits implicated in neurodevelopmental diseases, such as schizophrenia and autism. Working along this training grant will allow me the opportunity to ask and improve on basic science related questions and learn to better communicate research across different disciplines. The training grant also offers the ability to be immersed in clinical and/or industry, in order to better prepare my future as a well-rounded researcher. Lexie’s advisor is Sadie Bergeron.

Matt EckardMatt is in his first year as a trainee on the training grant. He is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Psychology working within the Behavior Analysis Program. His research in Dr. Karen Anderson’s lab broadly focuses on how drugs and toxicants affect decision-making in animal models. Specifically, his work is concerned with evaluating the behavioral impacts of prenatal nanomaterial exposure on executive function in adulthood. He also works in Dr. Steven Kinsey’s lab investigating gastroprotective effects of cannabinoids. “Becoming a trainee in the BBS program will allow me to gain invaluable experience in leadership, networking, and operating within a multi-disciplinary team. Moreover, the opportunity for clinical immersion will enhance my understanding of clinical applications and how my research relates to clinical practice.” Matt’s advisor is Karen Anderson.

Associate Scholars

Cory Whirtley

Cory is in her second year as an associate scholar on the training grant. She is a third year PhD student in the Behavior Analysis program within the Department of Psychology. Her research in Dr. Michael Perone’s laboratory focuses on understanding basic, behavioral processes. Specifically, her main projects are focused on the evaluation of timeout from positive reinforcement, a commonly used technique to suppress behavior. Other current projects include: 1) evaluating stimulus control of spontaneous recovery, 2) evaluating light discrimination in rats, and 3) building and evaluating inexpensive technology for the study of behavior. “The position as an Associate Scholar has provided me with invaluable opportunities to expand my research, networking, and leadership skills. Notably, the clinical immersion experience has provided an in-depth insight into the clinical application of my laboratory research.”

Casey Wright

Casey is in his third year of the Clinical Psychology PhD program and his second year as an associate scholar. His research interests are broadly in the area of clinical health psychology with special interests in biobehavioral contributors and consequences of digestive (including the oral cavity) and inflammatory diseases along with their associated processes. In particular, Casey has a unique interest in tight junction regulation (i.e., zonulin) and tissue permeability and how psychological factors may play a role in inflammatory disease mechanisms. He studies with Dr. Dan McNeil who is a leading health psychology researcher with particular expertise in behavioral dentistry. “The associate scholar position has provided me the opportunity to network and build research collaborations with such high powered researchers in and outside of the WVU network. I have collaborators with whom I will work beyond my training here at WVU in part because of my association with the BBS program.

Floyd Steele

Floyd Steele is in his first year as an associate scholar. He is a second year PhD student in the Behavioral
Neuroscience program. His lab studies the effects of cannabinoid drugs in mouse models of human
illness. His research focuses on the effects of cannabinoids in models of neuropathic and inflammatory
pain. For example, he has a project determining the efficacy of endocannabinoid enzyme inhibition in a
model of arthritis. “The associate scholar position will provide me the opportunity to enhance my
academic development in an environment supporting interdisciplinary networking and collaboration.”
Floyd’s advisor is Steven Kinsey.

Corrin Ahrabi-Nejad

Corrine is in her second year of the Clinical Psychology PhD program in the child clinical track. This is her first year as an associate scholar on the training grant. Her research interests are broadly in the area of pediatric psychology with special interests in chronic illness management among children and their families.  Corrine’s specific research interest focuses on the transition from pediatric to adult care among adolescents with type 1 diabetes. She studies under Dr. Christina Duncan who is a leading pediatric psychology researcher. “Being a part of the Behavior and Biomedical Sciences program will give me the opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research and work with an integrated team of medical professionals and researchers. This opportunity will allow me to further develop my research skills within behavioral science and increase my knowledge of how research can inform public health initiatives.”

Past Trainees

Doug Thornton

Joshua Gross

Jenny Ozga

Danielle Doll
West Virginia University

Margeaux Gray
Dickinson College, PA

Sylvia Mrowka
Penn State University, Altoona

Erienne Olesh
University of Puget Sound, WA

Elvonna Atkins
Florida A&M University

Danielle Davidov
Marshall University, WV

Richard Felix
Washington State University

Rolf Hansen
Gannon University, PA

Lindsay Lueptow
Univ. of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Paula Prentice
University of Albany, SUNY

Cameron Randall
UNC Chapel Hill

Michael Seminerio
Washington & Jefferson College, PA

Merideth Smith
Beloit College

Ryan Turner
Western New England College

Tricia Wilkins
SUNY Buffalo

Shane Kaski

Desireé Williford

Nick Felicione

Deidre O'Dell