Behavioral Neuroscience of Memory & Aging

(Bimonte-Nelson Laboratory)

Keywords: aging, female, women's health, learning; memory; behavior; estrogen; progesterone; hormone; menopause; maze
Lab Area
Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology
Actively Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers
Lab Director
Heather Bimonte-Nelson, PhD

Bimonte-Nelson Lab, 2023: Empowered. Team-oriented. Who are making the difference? Brilliant, creative student scientists pushing female health scientific discovery forward in innovative ways.

The research goals of our laboratory are to characterize the cognitive and brain changes that occur during aging, as well as to develop behavioral and pharmacological strategies to attenuate mnemonic and neurobiological age-related alterations. Towards this goal, one of our primary interests is to determine the roles that sex, hormones, and brain chemistry play in brain function and cognition in young versus aged subjects. Our interests incorporate these goals with relevance to Alzheimer’s disease-related variables, and non-pharmacological approaches to protecting the brain and cognition against age- and neurodegenerative- related changes.

One of our main aims is to determine the effects that hormone therapies used in women have on the brain and its function across the lifespan. For example, we have been studying the effects of Premarin, estradiol, and progestins on cognition and neurobiology in different types of menopause. We are also evaluating hormones in contraceptives for effects on the brain and cognition across the lifespan. Findings demonstrate that estrogen and progesterone can have divergent effects on memory and neurobiology in aging females, and that effects of ovarian hormone loss and replacement are impacted by many parameters including menopause history, temporal specifics, and age. 

Donate to help Hormones, Menopause, and Memory Aging Research!

If you would like to make a donation to our lab, please click the button below. Even small contributions are a tremendous help when it comes to our research. Notably, supporting our research also means supporting the amazing students who work so hard to collect, analyze, and present the research findings.


Your financial support may be considered a charitable contribution and all donations will be processed by the ASU Foundation for A New American University, a non-profit organization that exists to support Arizona State University (ASU). Your contribution to the Hormones, Menopause, and Memory Aging Lab and the Department of Psychology is greatly appreciated!

Bimonte-Nelson Lab Students Collecting Data in the Laboratory, Engaging in Lab Meeting, and Presenting Data:

Haidyn, our lab Barrett Honor's Student and Fulbright Scholar, publically presenting a subset of her honors data.
Team lab meeting with a lot of brainstorming and experimental design discussions...
Team "Isabel's Honor's Project" ready to go!
Preparing to obtain brain samples.
Student researchers setting up for behavioral testing to test learning and memory, as well as anxiety-like measurements.
Student researchers prepared for brain dissections.

Bimonte-Nelson Lab, 2022

Lab Director and Principal Investigator, President's Professor, Heather Bimonte-Nelson, PhD

Dr. Bimonte-Nelson's undergraduate degree in Psychology was earned at Richard Stockton College, located near the beach in Pomona, NJ. To follow her interests in brain and behavior, she began her doctoral research under the mentorship of Dr. Victor Denenberg at the University of Connecticut where she 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 her and this area of work became her passion. After earning her PhD in 2000, she began a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Ann-Charlotte Granholm at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and several months later, helped move the laboratory to the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2005, Dr. Bimonte-Nelson moved to ASU and founded the Bimonte-Nelson Memory and Aging Laboratory. When Dr. Bimonte-Nelson is not in the laboratory or teaching, she enjoys the beautiful Arizona atmosphere by spending time outdoors with husband, Matt, and their two teenage daughters. She also enjoys painting, music, concerts and writing short stories.

Doctoral Students

Camryn Rae Lizik, Doctoral Student: Hello there! I am Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson’s second-year graduate student, excited to be embarking on the Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology PhD program. I found the Bimonte-Nelson Laboratory in my final semester as an undergraduate at ASU while majoring in Biological Sciences (Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior) and Global Health. My interests in health, physiology, and behavior that led me to join Dr. Bimonte-Nelson’s team are something I now get to explore in depth as we unpack the impacts of endocrine factors on cognition across the lifespan.

Matthew Oevermann, Doctoral Student: I graduated from Southwestern University in 2021 with a BS in Psychology. During my time at Southwestern, I began research in the undergraduate lab of Dr. Fay Guarraci, where I studied the impact of drugs of abuse on female sexual behavior and motivation. After graduation, I worked in the Behavioral Neuropharmacology Laboratory as a laboratory technician, under the supervision of Dr. Rick Bevins, assisting with basic lab management and maintenance while supporting research projects relating to contraceptive hormones on nicotine use. This previous experience led me to the Behavioral Neuroscience PhD program at ASU, where I am now Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson’s first-year doctoral student. My research interests broadly include the impacts of sex hormones, reproductive experiences, and aging on cognition.

Lab Manager

Elizabeth Wu: I graduated from ASU with a BS in Biological Sciences specializing in Conservation Biology and Ecology in 2022. After working on research projects studying the impacts of climate change on various physiological functions during my undergraduate degree, my interest in the research environment led me to the Bimonte-Nelson lab where I’m excited to further explore and expand my knowledge of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology. Contact: 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Megan Nelson: Megan Nelson was born and raised in Gilbert, Arizona. She is a senior in Barrett, The Honors College, who is double-majoring in psychology and biological sciences with a concentration in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. She is looking forward to learning about memory and aging, and her goal is to earn a PhD in neuroscience in order to conduct behavioral neuroscience research in academia. 

Kieran Andrew: An Arizona native, I am currently a senior at Barrett the Honors College majoring in Psychology. My time in the lab began in the Fall of 2019. I enjoy learning about neuroscience and am grateful to get the opportunity to research topics such as how memory and aging affect the brain. I am excited to continue to work alongside my talented peers in the lab.

Avantika Mitbander: I am a native Arizona undergraduate senior double majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience at Barrett, the Honors College. I am also pursuing a minor in Spanish and a certificate in Cross-Sector Leadership. I have been a part of the lab since November 2020 and have enjoyed researching the various factors that affect women's health with an interest in how hormonal alterations affect the female reproductive system and the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases. 

Sadaf Asadifar: I was born and raised in Iran, moved to Turkey at the age of 8 and moved to the US at the age of 10. I am currently a senior at Barrett, The Honors College, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Global Health. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the amazing graduate and undergraduate students working in the lab.

Jade Pastor: Hello! I am a senior pursuing a degree in Neuroscience at Barrett, The Honors College. At age four, I moved from New York to Arizona and have lived here ever since. I joined the lab in hopes of expanding my knowledge of behavioral neuroscience and to develop my research skills. In the future, I hope to attend graduate school and make a lasting contribution to science through research. I am so excited to continue learning from my amazing lab colleagues! 

Lynn Highton: I am a senior double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychological Sciences, in Barrett, the Honors College! I am from Tucson, Arizona. I joined this lab because the work we do is incredible, and the hands-on experience as well as the awesome team culture make it one of the best experiences I’ve had here at ASU. My interests are specifically focused on memory, and I have had experience working in other labs around campus, in addition to being a TA for several classes and labs. In the future, I hope to continue to do research and follow my academic interests, and maybe even one day become a neuroscience professor!

Where are they now?

Joshua Talboom (2011, PhD) - currently a Post-doc at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN)

B. Blair Braden (2012, PhD) - currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Arizona State University

Jazmin Acosta (2013, PhD & Post-doctoral fellow) - currently an Associate Medical Science Liaison, Medical Affairs at Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

Elizabeth Engler-Chiurazzi (2013, PhD) - currently an Assistant Professor at Tulane

Sarah Mennenga (2015, PhD) – currently pursuing a Post-Doc at New York University

Mari Willeman (2018, Post-doctoral fellow) - currently faculty at Glendale Community College

Alesia Prakapenka (2018, PhD) - currently pursuing a Post-doc at Syracuse University

Stephanie Koebele (2019, PhD) - currently pursuing a Post-doc at Arizona State University

Victoria Bernaud (2022, PhD) - currently at Phoenix Children's Hospital as a scientific writer

Veronica Pena (2023, PhD) - currently a Neuroscience Professor at Arizona State University

LABORATORY MANAGER: Alicia Quihuis - Currently a graduate student at the University of Southern California.

LABORATORY MANAGER: Steven Northup-Smith - Currently in Research Advancement in the ASU Psychology Department


Graduate Students
Prospective graduate students must meet the minimum qualifications for admittance in the Department of Psychology Graduate Program. Qualities of successful students include the following traits: highly motivated, dependable, organized, meeting challenges, working well with others as well as independently. Highly desirable are those who have had experience working in an animal research facility in the past. However, successful students have joined Dr. Bimonte-Nelson's laboratory without this experience. Please contact Dr. Bimonte-Nelson if you have any questions. Dr. Bimonte- Nelson's contact information is at the bottom of this page and graduate student contact information is available on this page (above).

Selected Publications

The list of publications below are just a sample of the work that's being done in our lab. For a complete list of Dr. Bimonte-Nelson's publications, please view her CV. 

* denotes graduate student or postdoc in our lab
^ denotes undergraduate student in our lab


Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., Bernaud, V.E. (2023). How preclinical models of menopause can inform clinical care: A focus on midlife and reciprocal communication between clinical and preclinical science. Current Opinion in Endocrine and Metabolic Research, 28. doi:


Bernaud, V. E., Bulen, H. L., Peña, V. L., Koebele, S. V., Northup-Smith, S. N., Manzo, A. A., Valenzuela Sanchez, M., Opachich, Z., Ruhland, A. M., & Bimonte-Nelson, H. A. (2022). Task-dependent learning and memory deficits in the TgF344-AD rat model of Alzheimer's disease: three key timepoints through middle-age in females. Sci Rep, 12(1). PMCID: PMC9418316

Maher, E. E., Kipp, Z.A., Leyrer-Jackson, J.M., Khatri, S., Bondy, E., Martinez, G.J., Beckmann, J.S., Hinds, Jr., T.D., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., Gipson, C.D. (2022). Ovarian Hormones Regulate Nicotine Consumption and Accumbens Glutamatergic Plasticity in Female Rats. eNeuro, 9(3). PMCID: PMC9239849

*Koebele, S. V., ^Poisson, M. L., ^Palmer, J. M., ^Berns-Leone, C., Northup-Smith, S. N., *Peña, V. L., ^Strouse, I. M., ^Bulen, H. L., ^Patel, S., ^Croft, C., Bimonte-Nelson, H. A. (2022). Evaluating the Cognitive Impacts of Drospirenone, a Spironolactone-Derived Progestin, Independently and in Combination With Ethinyl Estradiol in Ovariectomized Adult Rats. Front Neurosci, 16. PMCID: PMC9177129


Zeibich, L., *Koebele, S. V., *Bernaud, V. E., Ilhan, Z. E., Dirks, B., Northup-Smith, S. N., ^Neeley, R., Maldonado, J., Nirmalkar, K., Files, J. A., Mayer, A. P., Bimonte-Nelson, H. A., Krajmalnik-Brown, R. (2021). Surgical Menopause and Estrogen Therapy Modulate the Gut Microbiota, Obesity Markers, and Spatial Memory in Rats. Front Cell Infect Microbiol, 11. PMCID: PMC8515187

Stonebarger, G. A., Bimonte-Nelson, H. A., Urbanski, H. F. (2021). The Rhesus Macaque as a Translational Model for Neurodegeneration and Alzheimer's Disease. Front Aging Neurosci, 13. PMCID: PMC8446616

*Koebele, S. V., *Hiroi, R., ^Plumley, Z., ^Melikian, R., *Prakapenka, A. V., ^Patel, S., ^Carson, C., ^Kirby, D., *Mennenga, S. E., Mayer, L. P., Dyer, C. A., Bimonte-Nelson, H. A. (2021). Clinically Used Hormone Formulations Differentially Impact Memory, Anxiety-Like, and Depressive-Like Behaviors in a Rat Model of Transitional Menopause. Front Behav Neurosci, 15. PMCID: PMC8335488

Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., *Bernaud, V.E., *Koebele, S.V. (2021). Menopause, hormone therapy and cognition: maximizing translation from preclinical research. Climacteric. PMCID: PMC9124656

Gipson, C. D., Bimonte-Nelson, H. A. (2021). Interactions between reproductive transitions during aging and addiction: promoting translational crosstalk between different fields of research. Behav Pharmacol, 32. PMCID: PMC7965232

*Bernaud, V.E., *Hiroi, R., ^Poisson, M.L., *Castaneda, A.J., Kirshner, Z.Z., Gibbs, R.B., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A. (2021). Age impacts the burden that reference memory imparts on an increasing working memory load and modifies relationships with cholinergic activity. Front Behav Neurosci, 15. PMCID: PMC7902531


*Prakapenka, A.V., ^Quihuis, A.M., ^Carson, C.G., ^Patel, S., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., Sirianni, R.W. (2020). Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticle encapsulated 17β-estradiol improves spatial memory and increases uterine stimulation in middle-aged ovariectomized rats. Front Behav Neurosci, 14. PMCID: PMC7793758

*Koebele, S.V., *Mennenga, S.E., ^Poisson, M.L., ^Hewitt, L.T., ^Patel, S., Mayer, L.P., Dyer, C.A., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A. (2020). Characterizing the effects of tonic 17β-estradiol administration on spatial learning and memory in the follicle-deplete middle-aged female rat. Horm Behav, 126. PMCID: PMC8032560 

*Prakapenka, A.V., *Peña, V.L., ^Strouse, I., Northup-Smith, S., Schrier, A., ^Ahmed, K., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., Sirianni, R.W. (2020). Intranasal 17β-estradiol modulates spatial learning and memory in a rat model of surgical menopause. Pharmaceutics, 12(12). PMCID: PMC7766209


*Koebele, S.V., Nishimura, K.J., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., Kemmou, S., Ortiz, J.B., Judd, J.M., Conrad, C.D. (2019). A long-term cyclic plus tonic regimen of 17β-estradiol improves the ability to handle a high spatial working memory load in ovariectomized middle-aged female rats. Hormones and Behavior, 118. PMCID: PMC7286486

Holter, M.C., Hewitt, L.T., *Koebele, S.V., Judd, J.M., Xing, L., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., Conrad, C.D., Araki, T., Neel, B,G., Snider, W.D., Newbern, J.M. (2019) The Noonan Syndrome-linked Raf1L613V mutation drives increased glial number in the mouse cortex and enhanced learning. PLoS Genet. 15(4). doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008108. PMCID: PMC6502435

Goenaga, J., Powell, G.L., Leyrer-Jackson, J.M., Piña, J., Phan, S., *Prakapenka, A.V., *Koebele, S.V., Namba, M.D., McClure, E.A., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., Gipson, C.D. (2019). N-acetylcysteine yields sex-specific efficacy for cue-induced reinstatement of nicotine seeking. Addict Bioldoi: 10.1111/adb.12711. PMCID: PMC6685767

*Koebele S.V., ^Palmer J.M., ^Hadder B., ^Melikian R., ^Fox C., ^Strouse I.M., DeNardo D.F., George C., Daunis E., Nimer A., Mayer L.P., Dyer C.A., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2019). Hysterectomy uniquely impacts spatial memory in a rat model: a role for the nonpregnant uterus in cognitive processes. Endocrinology. 160(1):1-19. doi: 10.1210/en.2018-00709. PMCID: PMC6293088


*Prakapenka, Alesia V., and Heather A. Bimonte-Nelson (2018). Memory and Menopause: An Unsolved Puzzle. Aging 10: 2541-543. PMCID: PMC6224240

Rajeth K., Bimonte-Nelson H.A., Ciavatta V., Haile W., Elmore K., Ward J., Maroun L., Tyor W.R. (2018). Reversing interferon-alpha neurotoxicity in a HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder mouse model. AIDS. 32:1403-11. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000001836

Tyor W.R., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2018) A mouse model of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders: a brain-behavior approach to discover disease mechanisms and novel treatments.Neurovirol. 24(2): 180-4.  PMCID: PMC5845816

*Prakapenka A.V., *Hiroi R., ^Quihuis A.M., ^Carson C., ^Patel S., ^Berns-Leone C., ^Fox C., Sirianni R.W., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2018) Contrasting effects of individual versus combined estrogen and progestogen regimens as working memory load increases in middle-aged ovariectomized rats: one plus one does not equal two. Neurobiol. Aging. 64:1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.11.015. PMCID: PMC5820186

*Willeman M.N., *Mennenga S.E., Siniard, A.L., Corneveaux, J., De Both M., ^Hewitt L.T., Tsang, C.W.S., Caselli J., *Braden B.B., Bimonte-Nelson H.A., Huentelman J. (2018). The PKC-ß selective inhibitor, Enzastaurin, impairs memory in middle-aged rats. PloS One. 13(6). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198256. PMCID: PMC5988320


*Koebele S.V., *Mennenga S.E., *Hiroi R., ^Quihuis A.M., ^Hewitt L.T., ^Poisson M.L., George C., Mayer L.P., Dyer C.A., Aiken L.S., Demers L.M., ^Carson C., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2017) Cognitive changes across the menopause transition: A longitudinal evaluation of the impact of age and ovarian status on spatial memory. Hormones and Behavior, 87, 96-114. PMCID: PMC5479707

*Koebele S.V., *Mennenga S.E., ^Patel, S., *Hiroi R., Hewitt, L.T., ^Quihuis A.M., Mayer L.P., Dyer C.A., Demers L.M., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2017). Menopause and the aging brain: Evaluating relationships between circulating ovarian hormone levels and choline acetyltransferase-containing neurons in the basal forebrain. Experimental Gerontology, 94, 111-112. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2017.02.021

*Koebele, S.V. & Bimonte-Nelson, H.A. (2017). The endocrine-brain-aging triad where many paths meet: Female reproductive hormone changes at midlife and their influence on circuits important for learning and memory. Experimental Gerontology, 94, 14–23. PMCID: PMC5479709

*Prakapenka, A.V., Bimonte-Nelson, H.A., & Sirianni, R. (2017). Engineering poly(lactic- co –glycolic acid) (PLGA) micro- and nano- carriers for controlled delivery of 17beta-estradiol. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 45, 1697-1709. PMCID: PMC5599155


*Koebele S.V., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2016) Modeling menopause: The utility of rodents in translational behavioral endocrinology research. Maturitas, 87, 5-17. PMCID: PMC4829404

*Hiroi R., Carbone D.L., Zuloaga D.G., Bimonte-Nelson H.A., and Handa R.J. (2016) Sex-dependent programming effects of prenatal glucocorticoid treatment on the developing serotonin system and stress-related behaviors in adulthood. Neuroscience320, 43-56. PMCID: PMC4840233

*Braden B.B., ^Andrews M.G., *Acosta JI, *Mennenga S.E., ^Lavery C., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2016) A comparison of progestins within three classes: Differential effects on learning and memory in the aging surgically menopausal rat. Behavioral Brain Research, 30, 258-268. PMCID: PMC5195920

 *Braden B.B., Dassel KB, Bimonte-Nelson H.A., O'Rourke H.P., Connor D.J., Moorhous S., Sabbagh M.N., Caselli R.J., Baxter L.C. (2016) Sex and post-menopause hormone therapy effects on hippocampal volume and verbal memory. Neuropsychology, Development, and Cognition (Section B: Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition), 4, 1-20. PMCID: PMC5963938

*Hiroi R., ^Weyrich G., *Koebele S.V., *Mennenga S.E., *Talboom J.S., ^Hewitt L.T., ^Lavery C.N., ^Mendoza P., ^Jordan A., Bimonte-Nelson HA. (2016) Benefits of hormone therapy estrogens depend on estrogen type: 17β-estradiol and conjugated equine estrogens have differential effects on cognitive, anxiety-like, and depressive-like behaviors and increase tryptophan hydroxylase-2 mRNA levels in dorsal raphe nucleus subregions. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 510-517. PMCID: PMC5143618


*Mennenga, S.E., ^Gerson J.E., Dunckley T., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2015) Harmine treatment enhances short-term memory in old rats: Dissociation of cognition and the ability to perform the procedural requirements of maze testing. Physiology & Behavior, 138, 260-265. PMCID: PMC4406242

*Braden B.B., ^Kingston M.L., Koenig E.N., ^Lavery C.N., ^Tsang C.W., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2015) The GABAA antagonist bicuculline attenuates progesterone-induced memory impairments in middle-aged ovariectomized rats. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 7:149. PMCID: PMC4536389

*Mennenga S.E., ^Gerson J.E., *Koebele S.V., ^Kingston M.L., ^Tsang C.W., *Engler-Chiurazzi E.B., Baxter L.C., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2015) Understanding the cognitive impact of the contraceptive estrogen Ethinyl Estradiol: tonic and cyclic administration impairs memory, and performance correlates with basal forebrain cholinergic system integrity. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 54:1-13. PMCID: PMC4433884

Prokai L., Nguyen V., Szarka S., Garg P., Sabnis G., Bimonte-Nelson H.A., McLaughlin K.J., *Talboom J.S., Conrad C.D., Shughrue P.J., Gould T.D., Brodie A., Merchenthaler I., Koulen P., Prokai-Tatrai K. (2015) The prodrug DHED selectively delivers 17β-estradiol to the brain for treating estrogen-responsive disorders. Science Translational Medicine. 7(297):113. PMCID: PMC4591937

Wallace E., Kim do Y., Kim K.M., Chen S., *Braden B.B., Williams J., Jasso K., ^Garcia A., Rho J.M., Bimonte-Nelson H., Maganti R. (2015) Differential effects of duration of sleep fragmentation on spatial learning and synaptic plasticity in pubertal mice. Brain Research. 1615:116-28. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2015.04.037

*Koebele S.V., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2015) Trajectories and phenotypes with estrogen exposures across the lifespan: What does Goldilocks have to do with it? Hormones and Behavior. 74:86-104. PMCID: PMC4829405


*Mennenga S.E., Baxter L.C., ^Grunfeld I.S., Brewer G.A., Aiken L.S., *Engler-Chiurazzi E.B., *Camp B.W., *Acosta J.I., *Braden B.B., ^Schaefer K.R., ^Gerson J.E., ^Lavery C.N., ^Tsang C.W., ^Hewitt L.T., ^Kingston M.L., *Koebele S.V., Patten K.J., Ball B.H., McBeath M.K. Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2014) Navigating to new frontiers in behavioral neuroscience: traditional neuropsychological tests predict human performance on a rodent-inspired radial-arm maze. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience8. PMCID: PMC4158810

*Mennenga S.E., *Koebele S.V., ^Mousa A.A., ^Alderete T.J., ^Tsang C.W., *Acosta J.I., *Camp B.W., Demers L.M., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2014) Pharmacological blockade of the aromatase enzyme, but not the androgen receptor, reverses androstenedione-induced cognitive impairments in young surgically menopausal rats. Steroids. PMCID: PMC4398574

*Talboom J.S., West S.G., *Engler-Chiurazzi E.B., Enders C.K., ^Crain I., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2014) Learning to remember: cognitive training-induced attenuation of age-related memory decline depends on sex and cognitive demand, and can transfer to untrained cognitive domains. Neurobiology of Aging, 35(12), 2791-2802. PMCID: PMC4252709


*Acosta J., *Hiroi R., *Camp B., *Talboom J., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2013) An update on the cognitive impact of clinically-used hormone therapies in the female rat: models, mazes, and mechanisms. Brain Research, Special Issue on Window of Opportunity for Hormone Therapy, 1514: 18-39. PMCID: PMC3739440

*Mennenga S., Bimonte-Nelson H.A. (2013) Translational cognitive endocrinology: Designing rodent experiments with the goal to ultimately enhance cognitive health in women. Brain Research, Special Issue on Window of Opportunity for Hormone Therapy, 1514: 50-62. PMCID: PMC3936018

Singh M., Simpkins J.W., Bimonte-Nelson H.A., Brinton R.D. (2013) Window of opportunity for estrogen and progestin intervention in brain aging and Alzheimer's disease. Brain Research, Special Issue on Window of Opportunity for Hormone Therapy, 1514:1-2. PMCID: PMC4076427

Rao V.R., Neogi U., *Talboom J.S., Padilla L., Rahman M., Fritz-French C., Gonzalez-Ramirez S., Verma A., Wood C., Ruprecht R.M., Ranga U., Azim T., Joska J., Eugenin E., Shet A., Bimonte-Nelson H.A., Tyor W.R., Prasad V.R. (2013) Clade C HIV-1 isolates circulating in Southern Africa exhibit a greater frequency of dicysteine motif-containing Tat variants than those in Southeast Asia and cause increased neurovirulence. Retrovirology, 10:61. PMCID: PMC3686704

Lab News & Highlights!

Kieran Andrew and Jade Pastor both won travel awards to present posters at the 2023 Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM in Washington D.C. next February.

Camryn Lizik, Sadaf Asadifar, Jade Pastor, and Kieran Andrew presented posters at the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Conference on September 22nd, 2022. 

Victoria Bernaud successfully defended her PhD on September 13th, 2022! Dr. Bernaud’s dissertation is entitled “Learning and Memory Outcomes with Variations in Rodent Models of Menopause: Interactions between Age, Gynecological Surgery, and Ovarian Hormone Shifts alter the Course of Healthy Female Aging.” CONGRATULATIONS DR. BERNAUD!

Heather Bimonte-Nelson hosted the ADRC Junior Fellows, 5 high school students from Desert Vista High School and Horizon Honors Secondary School, at the ASU Psychology Department on September 5th, 2022 to provide the students with experience in a research laboratory setting and to teach them about Alzheimer’s disease, neuroscience, and brain aging.  

Heather Bimonte-Nelson was awarded one of the university's most prestigious faculty honors, the designation as President's Professor! She is one of only 40 ASU professors to ever receive this award. As a recipient, she is recognized for her "enthusiasm and innovation in teaching, the ability to inspire original and creative work by students, mastery of subject matter and scholarly contributions."

Victoria Bernaud received the Sharon Manne Graduate Student Research Award! This award provides funds to PhD students who are conducting research in the fields of clinical and health psychology and behavioral neuroscience that aims to address mental and physical health issues. 

Haidyn Bulen received a Fulbright award to conduct research in Australia for three years

Stephanie Koebele won the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) Doctoral Dissertation Research Excellence Award! More information can be found here.

Victoria Woner successfully defended her Master’s thesis entitled “Young Adult and Middle-age Rats Display Unique Working Memory Impairment and Differential Neurobiological Profiles Following Hysterectomy” on January 15th, 2020! 

Haidyn Bulen defended her honors thesis and received Top Honors Thesis in the Psychology Department!

Victoria Woner was awarded the Society for Neuroscience Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA)! Article can be found here.

Veronica Pena successfully defended her Master’s thesis entitled “Progestogens Impact Cognition During the Transition to Menopause in the Rat: Dissociation of Progestogen- and Memory- Type” on September 19th, 2019!

Stephanie Koebele successfully defended her PhD on July 8th, 2019! Dr. Koebele's dissertation is entitled, "Variations in Menopause Etiology Affect Cognitive Outcomes: How Age, Menopause Type, and Exogenous Ovarian Hormone Exposures Across the Lifespan Impact the Trajectory of Brain Aging."

 Isabel Strouse defended her honors thesis and received the 2019 Barrett Award for Outstanding Research, which only two undergraduates in the Barrett Honors program receive each year! She was also awarded the Top Honors Thesis in the Psychology department.

Stephanie Koebele received the 2019 Faculty Women's Association Outstanding Graduate Student Award!

Alesia Prakapenka successfully defended her PhD on October 25th, 2018 and started her Postdoctoral Fellowship at Syracuse University with Dr. Donna Korol. Dr. Prakapenka's doctoral thesis is entitled: "Optimizing the Delivery of 17β-estradiol: Maximizing Beneficial Cognitive Effects While Minimizing Undesired Peripheral Stimulation in a Rat Model of Surgical Menopause

60 third grade students and 4 teachers from William T. Machan elementary school participated in the 2019 Brain Fair for Children with 10 volunteer instructors from the lab who helped.

Stephanie Koebele did a press release for her publication "Hysterectomy Uniquely Impacts Spatial Memory in a Rat Model: A Role for the Nonpregnant Uterus in Cognitive Processes." More information can be found here.

Haidyn Bulen presented research on sex differences in Alzheimer’s disease.  at the ASU-Banner Neuroscience Symposium, hosted by the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center. The symposium capped off the Banner-ASU Neuroscience Scholars Program, which is a paid, eight-week research training program available to undergraduate students nationwide.

AZBio named Heather Bimonte-Nelson the 2018 Michael A. Cusanovich Arizona Bioscience Educator of the Year for her commitment to developing the next generation of inquiring minds.

Justin Palmer won "Best Undergraduate Thesis" in the Psychology department for his thesis titled, “An Evaluation of the Cognitive Effects of a Short-Term and a Long-Term Ovarian Hormone Deprivation in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease: Addressing the Critical Window."

The Bimonte-Nelson lab teamed up with Red Mountain High school for the second consecutive year to teach students about the brain at the 2018 Red Mountain STEM day.

Justin Palmer won the 2017-2018 Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences Undergraduate Research Excellence Award! This award acknowledges and honors undergraduate student investigators who have conducted research of superior quality and with broader societal impact.

75 third grade students and 4 teachers from Creighton elementary school participated in the 2018 Brain Fair for Children with 11 volunteer instructors from the lab who helped.

Alesia Prakapenka won the 2018 Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Faculty Women’s Association!

Isabel Strouse and Justin Palmer won 1st and 2nd place for their posters at the 2018 Arizona Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (AZPURC)!

55 third grade students and 4 teachers from Creighton elementary school participated in the 2017 Brain Fair for Children with 11 volunteer instructors from the lab who helped.

About sixty 4th and 5th grade students and two teachers from Kyrene's Monte Vista elementary school participated in the 15 March 2016 Brain Fair organized by Dr. Sheri Hiroi with seven volunteer instructors from the lab who helped. For more pics and info about our Brain Fairs, click here! (posted 5/9/16).

Stephanie Koebele just won a competitive scholarship to attend the August 2016 Practical Workshop in Confocal Microscopy and Stereology in Chicago. The purpose of this intensive, week-long workshop is for researchers in biomedical science to learn new cell quantification microscopy techniques including a comprehensive overview in the theory and practice of modern histological preparation and microscopic analysis. Notes Dr. Bimonte-Nelson, “we’re so proud of Stephanie’s accomplishment in winning this award and look forward to her conducting her own workshop to teach us these new skills and techniques!” (posted 4/27/16).

Explore the new book which provides a laboratory roadmap for testing cognition in rodents, edited by Heather with stellar contributions from leaders in the field including personal accounts and scientific perspectives of their key discoveries: The Maze Book: Theories, Practice, and Protocols for Testing Rodent Cognition


Doctoral student Stephanie Koebele wins Young Investigator Award at the 10th European Congress on Menopause and Andropause (EMAS). Read more about Stephanie's fabulous achievement!


Read about Brain Fairs for Children, organized by the Bimonte-Nelson lab and attended by hundreds of happy kids!

Doctoral student and lab member Sarah Mennenga earned the Psychology Department scholar award and successfully defended her PhD in 2015. She recently started her Postdoctoral Fellowship at NYU.

Bimonte-Nelson Lab graduate student Alesia Prakapenka won an NSF award co-mentored by Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson and Dr. Rachael Sirianni at Barrow Neurological Institute, entitled "Development of targeted delivery of estrogen to examine its effect on cognitive function." 

Bimonte-Nelson Lab, Washington DC, Society for Neuroscience 2014 (above)

Bimonte-Nelson Lab Dinner, Society for Neuroscience 2013 in San Diego (left).

Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel visiting the lab at ASU in 2012.

Contact Us

To apply, please email principal investigator President's Professor Dr. Bimonte-Nelson and contact the laboratory manager Elizabeth Wu for the Undergraduate Research Assistant application.

Research Opportunity Description

Research Technicians
Dr. Bimonte-Nelson expects the same traits from her research technicians as she does for her graduate students (see above). Potential applicants must also be hardworking and dependable with a BA or BS in psychology or biology. Animal handling experience is a plus as well as laboratory work, management and maintenance experience. Dr. Bimonte-Nelson asks that applicants be dedicated to this position for at least 4 years (the duration of a grant). 

Undergraduate Research Volunteers
We are interested in accepting undergraduates into our laboratory team who have interests in studying the neurobiological and cognitive effects of hormones and aging.  Students who are more likely to be considered are Psychology majors, focusing on pursuing a career in neural behavioral research. The majority of the work will involve behavioral testing on our various maze tasks. Other duties that will be required will involve assistance/participation in experimental procedures, surgeries, and laboratory data management.

Requirements for undergraduate researchers:

Highly responsible
Highly motivated and enthusiastic
Punctual and organized
Can work independently as well as within a group
Willing to run behavioral procedures in the morning to late afternoon
Willing and able to work with the rodent model, and to assist with surgery
A year minimum before graduation (training takes time)
Morning availability

Note: Undergraduates work on a volunteer basis or through the Honors College; some are eligible to earn competitive funding through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences SOLUR program.