Rocio is a senior MCDB major from Denver, CO and is also getting a Certificate of Public Health. Her future endeavors are to get a Masters of Public Health in the Environmental and Occupational Health Department from the Colorado School of Public Health and then
pursue medical school. Since summer of 2021, she has been in the Root Lab in the Neuroscience and Psychology Department at CU Boulder where she studied the neurobiology of withdrawal-induced changes in behavior. She is very excited to be working in Environmental Health for her Masters and to be pursuing a career in the medical field later on.
“The Neurobiology of Withdrawal-Induced Changes in Behavior” The aim of this research is to identify which specific cell-types and circuits in different areas of the brain in mice control behaviors exhibited during opioid withdrawal. The central amygdala is a master regulator of defensive behavior and activated by opioid withdrawal. The central amygdala will be inhibited to identify the withdrawal-induced changes in defensive behavior. Transgenic mice will receive a virus injection that inserts an inhibitory light-gated ion channel in
the principal GABA neurons of the central amygdala. These neurons will be optically inhibited during threat exposure under different opioid states. Two mice displayed successful virus injection in the central amygdala and fleeing behavior was altered by inhibiting central amygdala GABA neuron inhibition during each opioid state.
Research Faculty Mentor:
Dr. David Root, Assistant Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience
Rocio's McNair Scholars mentor was Saydie Sago.