Current and former Ohio Northern University students, in collaboration with faculty mentors, have been involved in a high-impact learning experience that resulted in the publication of an article in a prestigious research journal.
The article, “A predator-based psychosocial stress animal model of PTSD in females: Influence of estrous phase and ovarian hormones,” was published in the September 2019 edition of Hormones and Behavior. The project was supported by a $411,453 research grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute that was awarded to ONU Associate Professor of Psychology Phillip Zoladz, Ph.D., and former ONU pharmacy faculty member Boyd Rorabaugh.
The article is available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0018506X19302247?via%...
The study builds on similar grant-funded research Zoladz and Rorabaugh have completed regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Over the past several decades, extensive research has been conducted on the effects of stress in male rats, but research examining the effects of stress in female rats is lacking,” Zoladz said. “This is especially concerning, considering that, in humans, females are more likely to develop PTSD than males.”
“In our study, we found that female rats exposed to chronic stress exhibited PTSD-like changes in physiology and behavior that were comparable to those we have previously observed in stressed males.”
“The next step will be to assess whether other measures are affected in female rats, such as brain chemicals, and then try to identify treatments that might prevent such effects,” Zoladz said.
STUDENTS INVOLVED IN RESEARCH ENDEAVORS
In all, nine current and former ONU students were involved with the project at various times.
“It is rare for undergraduate students to be so heavily involved in federally-funded research projects like this,” Zoladz said. “The students were very hands-on. Under faculty supervision, they ran the labs and did the work. This is professional experience that will be of great benefit to them in pursuing careers or graduate school.”
“Being a part of this lab group will give me an edge in my future because of having the experience of working in a lab, and the published papers and presentations allow me to stand out more,” said current ONU student researcher Cassandra Goodman, a pharmacy major. Goodman, of Evergreen Park, Ill., graduated from Marist High School in Chicago, Ill.
“The project I have been doing with Dr. Zoladz has helped me to understand the methods of research, what it takes to run a study, how to prepare a presentation, and how to present at a conference,” she said.
After graduation, Goodman intends to pursue a career as a research pharmacist or a long-term care pharmacist.
“From working on this project, I have gained additional experience in conducting psychological research, which will be invaluable for me in my career,” said Ian Smith, a senior psychology major from East Liverpool High School. “I believe that having an understanding of how a research lab operates gives me an advantage in my future pursuits.”
Smith plans to attend graduate school and study psychology. “I would like to one day teach at a university and give undergraduate students the same research opportunities that I have had in college,” he said.