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Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson, Principal Investigator and Laboratory Director
My undergraduate degree in Psychology was earned at Richard Stockton College, located near the beach in Pomona, NJ. To follow my interests in brain and behavior, I began my doctoral research under the mentorship of Dr. Victor Denenberg at the University of Connecticut. My doctoral research focused upon sex differences in brain morphology and function, and how ovarian hormones affected the expression of sex differences in an activational and organizational fashion. The idea that gonadal hormones could have such a profound influence on the brain and behavior was intriguing to me, and this area of work became my passion. After earning my Ph.D. in 2000, I started my postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Ann-Charlotte Granholm at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and several months later I helped move the laboratory to the Medical University of South Carolina. In a series of studies we found that aged male and female rats exhibited poorer working and reference memory relative to young rats, an effect that correlated with cortical neurotrophin levels. Soon after beginning my postdoctoral fellowship I also started investigating gonadal hormone effects on cognition and neurotrophins during aging in the rodent.
Collectively, our initial as well as our current findings demonstrate that estrogen and progesterone have divergent effects on memory and neurobiology in aging females. We also have newer data suggesting that the memory effects of ovarian hormone loss and replacement depend on age. Using the rodent model, we are currently tes ting the cognitive and neurobiological effects of hormones used by women in the clinic, such as Premarin and MPA. These complex interactive relationships betwe en hormones, aging, and memory are a large thrust of our current work here at ASU, which began when the Bimonte-Nelson Memory and Aging Laboratory was initiated in June of 2005. We are also interested in non-pharmacological approaches to protecting the brain and cognition again st age-related change. I am thrilled that I received early tenure with exemplar status, and promotion to Associate Professor, here at ASU. When I am not in the laboratory or teaching, I enjoy the beautiful Arizona atmosphere by spending time outdoors with my husband, Matt, and our two young daughters, Hailey and Brooke. I also enjoy painting, music, concerts and writing short stories.
Alicia Quihuis (BS), Laboratory Manager
Born and raised in Chandler, Arizona, I attended ASU and obtained a BS in Biochemistry with Medicinal Concentration. During my time at ASU, I was involved in Analytical Chemistry undergraduate research with Dr. Mark Hayes focusing on capillary electrophoresis and the ability to separate small molecules. After graduating, I worked at a non-profit blood testing facility in the Virology Department. From there I worked as a Research Technician in Dr. Robert Handa's Neuroendocrinology lab at the University of Arizona School of Medicine in Phoenix. During my time at U of A, I assisted on several studies and small projects focusing on age and sex-differences related to stress and hormones, most specifically mediated by androgen and estrogen receptors. I took a short 2 year hiatis from science to open up a coffee and ice cream small business before deciding to come back. It was a fun experience, but now I'm excited to be part of the Bimonte-Nelson lab and working the neuroscience field again.
Ryoko (Sheri) Hiroi (PhD), Assistant Research Professor
Sarah Mennenga (MA), Graduate Student
Stephanie Koebele (BA), Graduate Student
Alesia Prakapenka (BS), Graduate Student
Zach Plumley, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Catie Carson, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Justin Palmer, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am from Cleveland, Ohio, where I graduated from North Royalton High School in May of 2014. I am currently a freshman at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biochemistry. I have the intention to go to graduate school for behavioral neuroscience. I joined the Bimonte-Nelson lab in October of 2014, and I am thrilled to explore my interests in research with such a great team!
Ryan Melikian, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Ryan Melikian is an English Literature student at Barrett, the Honors College at ASU who also has interests in science and is aiming towards medical school. She is a member of the esteemed Leadership Scholarship Program, as well as the Barrett-Mayo Premedical Scholars Program, which partners with Mayo Clinic to give students the chance to shadow physicians of different specialties at the Arizona campuses. She is interested in hormone and gender research and has worked on projects pertaining to the topic of gender dynamics in the professional workplace as a research assistant at Mayo Clinic. Outside of her academic life, Ryan is a part-time makeup artist, piano aficionada, and exercise enthusiast, inspired by motivating herself and others to lead healthy lifestyles.
Bimonte-Nelson Lab students that have graduated, and are off to change the world:
Joshua Talboom (2011, PhD) - currently doing a Post-Doc in the Oddo lab at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute
B. Blair Braden (2012, PhD) - currently doing a Post-Doc in the Baxter lab at Barrow Neurological Institute
Jazmin Acosta (2013, PhD & Post-doctoral fellow) - currently doing a Post-Doc in the Geda lab at Mayo Clinic
Elizabeth Engler-Chiurazzi (2013, PhD) - currently doing a Post-Doc in the Simpkins lab at West Virginia University
Ian Crain (2007, undergraduate research assistant) - Earned his MD in Neurology, 2013
Britny Sundin (2007, undergraduate research assistant) - currently in culinary school in Maine
Bronson Bowman (2009, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning his Masters degree at the University of Colorado
Melissa Scheldrup (2009, undergraduate research assistant) - currently in the Janowsky lab at Oregon Health Sciences Center
Stephanie Villa (2010, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her PhD at Northwestern
Madeline Andrews (2010, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her PhD at University of California Los Angeles
Alexandra Garcia (2010, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her PhD at University of Texas-Austin
Sarah Mennenga (2010, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her PhD in the Bimonte-Nelson lab
Candy Tsang (2011, undergraduate research assistant) - currently in the Kerrigan lab at Barrow Neurological Institute
Itamar Grunfeld (2011, undergraduate research assistant) - currently in the Baxter lab at Barrow Neurological Institute
Julia Gerson (2012, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her PhD at University of Texas Medical Branch
Jason Caselli (2012, undergraduate research assistant) - currently pursuing a career in veterinary science
Stephanie Koebele (2012, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her PhD in the Bimonte-Nelson lab
Elizabeth Engler (2007, started as an undergraduate research assistant) - currently in the Simpkins lab at West Virginia University
Elizabeth Whitton (2012, undergraduate research assistant) - currently preparing for missionary work and medical school
Melissa Kingston (2013, undergraduate research assistant) - currently preparing for medical school
Tanya Alderete (2013, undergraduate research assistant) - currently preparing for medical school
Perla Kerem Mendoza (2013, research assistant) - currently earning her MS in Psychology at ASU West campus
Ambra Jordan (2013, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her JD at Emory University
Lily Karber (2013, undergraduate research assistant) - currently preparing for graduate school
Lauren Hewitt (2014, undergraduate research assistant) - currently a lab technician in Dr. Newbern's lab at ASU and preparing for graduate school
Laura Torres (2014, undergraduate research assistant) - currently at the Banner Health Summer Research Internship Program and preparing for graduate school
Abeer Mousa (2014, undergraduate research assistant) - currently earning her MS in Science of Health Care Delivery at ASU
Giulia Weyrich (2014, undergraduate research assistant) - currently preparing for medical school
Keley Rose Schaefer is pictured below, working in our laboratory. She was a superstar Bimonte-Nelson Lab undergraduate researcher, and has been an inspiration to our laboratory. Keley passed away of ovarian cancer on Tuesday, June 7th 2011. Keley's intelligence, wit, humor, drive, strength, and innate love of science will continue on as an inspiration to all of us.
We will always remember...