Stress Physiology Laboratory

Carlson 106 and 1B03

phone: 303-492-7331

Research Interests

  • To determine how physical activity status changes the impact of stress on behavior, neural, endocrine, and immune system function.


  • Laboratory Director: Monika Fleshner, Ph.D.
  • Research Associate: Robert S. Thompson, Ph.D.
  • Professional Research Assistant: Abby Hills, B.A.
  • Graduate Students: Aggie Mika, B.S.
  • Undergraduate Students: Nicco Baumann, Donald Borchert, Michelle Gaffney, Kristina Hulen, Meg Lieb, Alex Martinez, Rachel Roller, Nicole Rumian.
  • High School Intern: Mira Guha.
  • Collaborators: Jose Amat, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; Heidi Day, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder; Ben Greenwood, Ph.D, University of Colorado Denver; Rob Knight, Ph.D, University of Colorado Boulder; Steven Maier, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder; Mark Opp, Ph.D., University of Washington; Jerry Rudy, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder; Linda Watkins, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder.
Back Row (L to R): Meg Lieb, Alex Martinez, Kristina Hulen, Rob Thompson, Nicco Baumann, Donald Borchert.
Front Row (L to R)
: Mira Guha, Rachel Roller, Abby Hills, Aggie Mika, Nicole Rumian, Monika Fleshner, Michelle Gaffney.

Current Research Projects

Overview: Exposure to acute and chronic stressors (mental or physical) influences many aspects of physiology. This lab investigates the impact of exposure to stressors on neural, hormonal, and immunological function, and how these systems interact to influence the whole organism. The body's stress response is a powerful and wonderfully integrated series of responses that under normal conditions functions to facilitate fight/flight responses, restore homeostasis, and promote survival. If, however, the stressor is excessive or frequent, the response is inappropriate, or the organism suffers from other illnesses or vulnerabilities, the stress response can have negative health consequences. Current projects include:

  • Stress and immunity: immune suppression/immune potentiation.

  • Stress and immunity: impact of acute or chronic stressor exposure on sterile inflammatory processes. Potential impact on vascular function.

  • Stress-buffering effects of exercise on central serotonin and autonomic neural circuits and behavior.

  • Neurobiology of exercise: involvement of dopamine motivational circuits and changes in learning and memory processes.

  • Stress and gut microbiota: investigation of the developmental impact of diet-induced changes on brain development; and how such changes could impact stress vulnerability and stress resistance.

Opportunities for Undergraduates

  • Undergraduates play an important role in our research and gain valuable skills unobtainable through regular university courses alone.

  • The requirements for undergraduate students who want a research experience in our Laboratory are:

    • Have an understanding and acceptance of the use of animals in research.
    • Successful completion of one course with bench top laboratory requirements.
    • Enroll in independent study (IPHY 4860) for a minimum of 10 hours/week for at least one semester.
    • Demonstrate maturity, commitment, and dependability.
    • Sophomore undergraduates entering into the Junior year preferred, but all students are encouraged to apply.
    • Must submit "unofficial" transcript, resume, and reason for interest in order to be considered.
    • All accepted undergraduates will undergo a 1-2 month trial period prior to full acceptance into the lab as an undergraduate assistant.

  • For consideration, please email Dr. Monika Fleshner ( with appropriate materials.


Recent Publications