The following INBRE fellowships are available this summer. Each INBRE Fellowship is designed for 8-10 weeks of research. The fellowship provides $5150 to the student, which includes funding for room and board.

Actions of Opioids on Accessory Olfactory Bulb Function

INBRE Faculty-Student Research Proposal

Jason Castro, Psychology and Neuroscience

1 May – 10 July 2013

One Student Position Available

The accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) is a brain structure that detects and discriminates odors of kin, conspecifics, and predators. In addition to its role as an early sensory relay, it is also a locus of social memory, in which localized and long-lasting synaptic changes encode odor signatures of specific individuals. Such plastic changes in the AOB are known to be gated by modulatory inputs, provided during arousing and emotionally salient events. Little explored, however, is the specific role of the endogenous opioid system in AOB memory formation and function. A potential role for opioids is especially compelling given the AOB’s dense expression of opioid receptors, and the long-hypothesized role of opioids in establishing pair-bonds and social attachment in mammals. In collaboration with two summer students, I propose a series of parallel behavioral and in-vitro studies to investigate the role of opioids in AOB function. Student 1 will test the hypothesis that opioidergic signaling is involved in the formation of AOB-dependent social memories, while Student 2 will test the role of opioids on intrinsic excitability and synaptic communication in the AOB. These studies will enhance our molecular-level understanding of mechanisms of social attachment, which may in turn help ameliorate disorders rooted in problems of attachment.

Note:  Due to the schedule of the fellowship, the student may not be enrolled in a Short Term course.

To apply: Interested students should send an email to Professor Castro (


Neuropeptide modulation of feeding behavior: a role in susceptibility to parasites?

Nancy W. Kleckner, Biology and Neuroscience

2 June – 3 August 2013

Two Student Positions Available

Pond snail feeding behaviors are regulated by both sensory information available in their environment and by internal cues. Chemicals available in the water in which they live may stimulate feeding (e.g. glutamate) or cause a state resembling regurgitation (e.g. Listerine), whereas internal cues like esophageal distension and release of reproductive hormones may cause oral behaviors resembling satiation and substrate cleaning (a predecessor to egg-laying). Understanding the neural mechanisms by which groups of neurons controlling feeding are altered by these chemical and mechanical stimuli is crucial to our understanding of these state changes, and importantly, may be useful in the control of snail populations that serve as intermediate hosts to human parasites. The purpose of the proposed study is to identify and characterize neuropeptides from freshwater pulmonate mollusks, including Biomphalaria glabrata, the intermediate host for the schistosomiasis parasite, in order to better understand the molluscan neural peptidome and the roles neuropeptides play in feeding-related behaviors.

One student will help test the hypothesis that neuropeptides previously isolated from pond snail (Helisoma trivolvis) central nervous system modify neural activity and cause transitions among feeding-related behaviors in pond snail species, including Biomphalaria, and a second student will test the hypothesis that that additional putative modulatory neuropeptides can be identified in silico, from the growing genomic sequence information available in national databases. The results of these experiments will help us understand how neural networks that control behaviors are modulated, and allow us to design substances that prevent snail feeding and therefore infection with parasites.

To apply: Interested students should submit to Professor Kleckner a cover letter describing their interest and preparation, as well as a brief resume.  The cover letter and resume should be sent as an email attachment to The student’s last name should be part of the file name.

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