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Research Labs

Each neuroscience professor mentors an undergraduate research group of beginners and more advanced students during the year and the summer

Neuroscience faculty pursue research programs in biology, psychology and philosophy that are designed to engage students as research scholars. Faculty and student researchers collaborate closely to contribute to the process of discovery and advancement of knowledge. 

Below are descriptions of each faculty lab. Interested students should individually contact the faculty member.

    Professor Flavia Barbosa, Biology

    I am a behavioral ecologist interested primarily in sexual selection. I study mating behavior employing insects as model species, both in the field and the laboratory. My current research is on katydids and moths, but I have also worked with flies, beetles and treehoppers.
    I am fascinated by the degrees of elaboration and variation in animal mating traits, including courtship displays, mating songs, elaborate genitalia and nuptial gifts (items offered to a mate during courtship or copulation). In most species, males compete for mates, while females have mate preferences, choosing their mates based on certain male traits. Female preferences can therefore exert strong selective pressure on males, playing a major role in the elaboration and diversification of mating traits, and potentially generating population divergence and speciation. My research focuses on the evolution of traits used to attract mates, the costs and benefits of reproductive investments, and the mechanisms and functions of mating preferences.Students interested in joining my lab can contact me at  barbosa@lakeforest.edu
    Professor Barbosa’s website

    Professor Shubhik Debburman, Biology

    “I am fascinated with how cells manipulate protein shapes. Proteins are the most diverse class of molecules in our cells and their unique functions and shapes hold the secrets of life. If proteins still misfold, they are targeted for destruction to preserve cellular health. But some misfolded proteins that such escape quality control, build up in tissues and cause tragic incurable diseases. I collaborate with undergraduates to investigate the protein folding mysteries underlying one such illness: Parkinson’s Disease, which is caused by the misfolding of protein, alpha-synuclein. My students are seeking to understand how alpha-synuclein misfolding and problems with its clearance causes cell death by using innovative experimental model systems: budding and fission yeasts. Students interested in joining my lab can contact me at debburman@lakeforest.edu.”
    DebBurman Lab website

    Professor Paul Henne, Philosophy

    I research causal and moral reasoning, the judgments associated with these reasoning processes, and the moral and political decisions that result from them. My lab uses the tools of cognitive science to investigate philosophical issues related to morality and causation. This is a new field called experimental philosophy. Our current projects investigate the relationship between the tendency to consider alternative possible events and ordinary causal judgments that come up in moral, legal, scientific domains. We plan to use these findings to investigate how causal reasoning affects human behavior.

    Paul Henne's Website

    Professor Matthew R. Kelley, Psychology

     “I am interested in discovering the general principles that govern human memory over the short- and long-term.  Presently, I am exploring a variety of counterintuitive memory phenomena, such as collaborative inhibition (memory impairment when recalling with a partner), hypermnesia (memory improvement with the passage of time), part-set cuing (memory impairment with hints), and the generation effect for lyrical censorship (enhanced memory for unheard relative to heard information).  Students interested in joining my lab can contact me at kelley@lakeforest.edu.”

    Professor Kelley’s lab website

    Professor Jean-Marie Maddux, Psychology

    “I am interested in basic mechanisms of associative learning, and the brain regions and circuits that subserve learned behavior. Environmental stimuli that signal salient motivational events, such as food or drugs, can acquire powerful control over behavior through Pavlovian conditioning. Broad goals of my research are to consider the role of learning processes that function in addiction, to identify candidate brain areas that allow for this learning to happen, and to investigate neurotransmitter systems that are involved in this learning and its behavioral output (performance). I am particularly interested in contrasting reward related learning for natural rewards (e.g., food or sucrose) vs. drug rewards (e.g, alcohol), and in cholinergic and dopaminergic systems. One line of my current research examines the effect of nicotine, a cholinergic agonist and the main active ingredient in tobacco, on alcohol-seeking behaviors triggered by Pavlovian alcohol cues. Another line of work explores the incentive salience of both Pavlovian alcohol cues and sucrose cues. I use a variety of methods in my research, including behavioral, pharmacological, and neuroanatomical techniques, conducted with rat subjects. Students interested in joining my lab can contact me at maddux@lakeforest.edu.

    Professor Maddux’s website

    Professor Margot Schwalbe, Biology

    I am interested in how animals gather information about their environment through their sensory systems and how this information influences an animal’s behavior.  I combine the study of neuroethology (neural basis of behavior), animal physiology (internal functions of animals), and animal behavior to investigate how the detection of certain stimuli by a sensory system contributes to the animal’s overall behavior. My current research focuses on the lateral line system in fish. Fish use their lateral line systems to detect water flows generated by biotic (predators, prey, other fish) and abiotic (rocks, waves) sources. This information is used in several behaviors including predator avoidance, feeding, schooling, and communication. I study several components of the lateral line system, including its distribution on a fish’s body, its sensitivity and filtering capabilities, and its role in swimming, feeding, and schooling behaviors.  Students interested in joining my lab can contact me at schwalbe@lakeforest.edu.

    Professor Schwalbe’s website

    Professor Naomi Wentworth, Psychology

    “I study the development of voluntary behavioral control, mostly in infants and young children.  I am particularly interested in the processes that allow us to regulate our behavior so that we can make the correct, though less automatic response, rather than the habitual, though incorrect response.  In other words, students in my lab study the origins and development of self-control.  In our current studies, we collect eye movement and brain wave data from infants and young children as they perform various visual-spatial tasks in which two response tendencies compete.  Students interested in joining my research lab can contact me at wentwort@lakeforest.edu.”