issue Summer 2022

Behavioral Neuroscientist Joins RFU Faculty

By Sara Skoog
Nicole Ferrara, PhD

Nicole Ferrara, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Brain Science Institute Director Amiel Rosenkranz, PhD, will join the Center for Neurobiology of Stress Resilience and Psychiatric Disorders on Sept. 1 as an assistant professor of physiology.

“My research program will investigate the impact of the environment on innate and learned fear and social behaviors.”

“I’m excited to join the Stress Center, where my research program will investigate the impact of the environment on innate and learned fear and social behaviors, and the regulation of these behaviors by cortical amygdala-hippocampal circuits throughout the lifespan,” said Dr. Ferrara. “I’m really happy to have the opportunity to explore these interests at RFU with so many supportive and innovative researchers.”

“Dr. Ferrara is an outstanding scientist and was the top-ranked candidate in our national search for a research-intensive faculty,” said center director Janice Urban, PhD. “The study of developmental timepoints throughout adolescence is particularly impactful and has significant implications for stress-related illnesses that emerge during development. Even at this early stage of her career, Nicole’s work is well-received within the scientific community.”

After earning her PhD in behavioral neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2018, Dr. Ferrara came to RFU for her postdoctoral work. In 2019, she secured a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for her research applying a variety of electrophysiological and molecular approaches to understand how the maturation of neural circuits impacts developmental differences in social behavior. In 2020, she served as an organizer of RFU’s Virtual Brain Science Institute Innovation Seminar Series as well as RFU’s inaugural Neuroscience Research Symposium.

Dr. Ferrara is an active member of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society and serves on the Pavlovian Society executive committee. She is also co-executive director of Women in Learning, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for students and postdoctoral fellows to seek advice, support and career guidance from notable female neuroscientists.

Sara Skoog is a staff writer with RFU’s Division of Marketing and Brand Management. In addition to writing for Helix and other university publications, she also produces Pulse, RFU’s monthly e-newsletter.