David Estrin, B.S.
Post Bac Research Lunch Presentation:“VTA glutamatergic neurons are functionally diverse”
David used in vivo electrophysiology in conjunction with optogenetics to record VTA glutamatergic neurons during natural rewarding and aversive behaviors. He found that there are two functionally distinct subpopulations of glutamatergic neurons which signal aversion or salience.
Post Bac Info: David learned the fundamentals of in vivo electrophysiology from Dr. Mark West’s laboratory at Rutgers University. He completed a thesis in Cell Biology & Neuroscience researching the electrophysiological properties of Nucleus Accumbens neurons during cue-induced cocaine relapse. Here, in Dr. Marisela Morales’s laboratory, his focus has been on researching VTA glutamatergic subpopulations during motivational behaviors. Along with in vivo electrophysiology, they have been assessing neuronal activity through in vivo fiber photometry and mini-endoscopic microscopy calcium imaging.
Cara Borja, B.S.
Post Bac Research Lunch Presentation: ““Activation of a lateral hypothalamic-ventral tegmental circuit gates motivation”
Using a combination of chemogenetics, optogenetics, electrophysiology, and behavioral asays, this project investigates the role of lateral hypothalamic leptin-receptor expressing neurons in the modulation of motivation and the downstream circuits in which they participate.
Post Bac Info: Cara graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) with two degrees in the Biological Sciences and Psychology. She is currently a postbac in the Aponte Lab at NIDA. She uses optogenetic techniques and behavioral assays to investigate reward-related behaviors and pain perception.