Jess Accepts Assistant Professor Position at Utah Valley University

Jess recently accepted an Assistant Professor position at Utah Valley University, which she will be starting in Fall 2021! Jess’s lab at UVU will investigate the developmental mechanisms influencing individual variation in cooperation. Congratulations Jess, and we can’t wait to hear about the exciting research that comes out of the Cusick Lab!

Kat Publishes Manuscript in Journal of Neuroendocrinology

Kat’s manuscript on how melatonin regulates seasonal variation in neurosteroids and aggressive behavior was recently published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology! In this study, Kat showed that male hamsters given a long-term, short day (SD)-like melatonin signal, either via timed melatonin injections or exposure to SD photoperiods (LD-M and SD hamsters, respectively), displayed increased aggression and showed region-specific reductions in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), testosterone (T), and estradiol (E2) levels in brain regions associated with aggressive behavior. She also showed that LD-M and SD hamsters exhibited similar associations between aggression and neurosteroid levels, in which neural T, E2, and cortisol were negatively correlated with aggression, whereas neural progesterone and DHEA were positively correlated with aggression. Collectively, her findings suggest that seasonal changes in neurosteroid levels and aggression in mammals are mediated, at least in part, by melatonin.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Kat Presents at SICB 2021

This week, Kat gave an oral presentation at SICB 2021, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual meeting! In her talk, she discussed some of her recent findings on the role of adrenal melatonin 1a receptor (Mel1aR) signaling in modulating territorial aggression in male Siberian hamsters. Way to go, Kat!

Nikki Publishes Manuscript in Journal of Neuroendocrinology

Former Demas Lab graduate student Dr. Nikki Rendon’s manuscript on the role of melatonin in regulating steroid metabolism and aggressive behavior in female hamsters was recently published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology! In this study, Nikki showed that females given a SD-like melatonin signal, either via timed melatonin injections or exposure to short-day photoperiods, reduced circulating dehydroepiandrosterone and testosterone levels, but increased circulating estradiol levels following an aggressive interaction. She also found that LD and SD females showed distinct relationships between aggression and neural aromatase abundance. Together, her findings suggest that melatonin increases non-breeding aggression by elevating circulating steroid metabolism after an aggressive encounter and by regulating behaviorally-relevant neural circuits in a region-specific manner.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Kat and Beth Awarded Indiana CTSI Core Pilot Grants

Both Kat and Beth received Core Pilot Grants from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI)! These research grants are awarded semi-annually to promote the use of technologies and expertise afforded by the Indiana CTSI Core Facilities available at all partner institutions, including Indiana University. Congratulations, ladies!

Congratulations to our Spring 2020 Graduates!

Congratulations to our spring 2020 graduates: lab manager Jessica Deyoe, who earned her Master’s of Public Health, and undergraduate students Justuss Boice, Eamonn Duffy, Sarah Henderson, and Grace Murphy! All of us in the Demas lab are so proud of all you have accomplished, and we wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors!

Kat Receives Louise Constable Hoover Fellowship

Kat received a Louise Constable Hoover Fellowship from the Department of Biology! This fellowship is awarded annually to three senior graduate students in the Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior graduate program to support research expenses. Congratulations, Kat!

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