Liberal Arts Research and Scholarly Work newsletter
Vol. 11, Issue 9
RESEARCHER OF THE MONTH
Mat Wimmer, Assistant Professor, Psychology and Neuroscience
The opioid epidemic in the US is a major public health crisis representing a massive societal burden. Approximately 65 million individuals are exposed to opioids annually, and a substantial proportion of patients go on to be diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD). Why are some people more susceptible to develop OUD? How can we improve preventative measures and available therapeutics to treat OUD? As the Director of the Memory, Epigenetics, and Addiction Laboratory, I strive to better understand the neurobiology of OUD as well as the mechanisms underlying addiction vulnerability. Using a combination of rodent models of addiction and molecular biological approaches, my research team aims to elucidate the neural mechanisms contributing to OUD and to identify novel targets to ameliorate available pharmacotherapeutics to treat substance use disorders.
I first became interested in neuroscience as an undergraduate student studying the biological basis of behavior. This discipline brings together many areas of science and there is so much we don’t understand about the brain. As I progressed in my training, I studied the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity, memory and sleep. As an independent investigator, I sought to bring together my background in molecular biology and behavioral neuroscience to explore the neurobiology of addiction. The idea that some of our results could one day help improve treatment options for people living with substance use disorders is one of the many reasons I decided to focus on this topic when I established my own laboratory. My favorite part of being a professor is mentoring students and trainees to help them find their own career paths. Currently, I am working on a 5 year, roughly $2.5 million dollar project that has been funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse entitled, "Unraveling Epigenetic Mechanisms Of Opioid Addiction Susceptibility Using Multigenerational Animal Models." Learn more here .
~Caterina Roman (Criminal Justice)
Since 2008, the year I arrived at Temple, 20,734 people have been shot in Philadelphia. The annual tally of gun violence victims has been increasing steadily, but it has skyrocketed in the last two years with the onset of the pandemic. As a public policy researcher dedicated to conducting research that will inform community violence reduction and improve neighborhood outcomes, I believe there are a number of ways to get our evidence-based ideas and scholarship in front of policymakers and city agency leaders. Op-eds are one of them. I wrote this Inquirer op-ed (with John Roman from NORC at the University of Chicago) to put forward the idea that the answers to the gun violence epidemic do not rest within criminal justice agencies alone. By using data to publicly document the barriers and opportunities at the neighborhood level, the links among poverty, segregation, and community violence will be evident. Furthermore, the extent of trauma and disadvantage resulting from these entwined issues would be brought to the forefront, creating an urgency to address gun violence from many fronts (and in a coordinated manner). As researchers, we know that the way in which a problem is understood has a huge impact on proposed solutions. As John and I conclude in the op-ed: “A city government that carefully considers the layers of obstacles facing people in high-risk places will make smart investments in solutions that match the scale of our gun violence problem.”
AWARD OF THE MONTH
Featured this month is Jason Chein, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of the Temple University Brain Research & Imaging Center (TUBRIC). Dr. Chein has been awarded roughly $2 million dollars from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development for a 5 year project entitled, "Origins and Outcomes of Smartphone and Social Media Habits Across Development."
The question of how our digital lives might impact cognitive development actually first came to me as a 2009 email inquiry from retired (at the time Emeritus) CLA Greek and Roman Classics Professor Dan Tompkins, who I worked for as a Temple undergraduate in the Learning Communities office that he directed. A question arose from a conversation that Dan had been having with the provost of Georgetown University about the apparently shrinking attention spans of university students (he described it as the loss of "Sitzfleisch (sitting-flesh)" - the ability to sit still for the long periods of time. Dan asked me if I had a view on the topic based on the work I'd been doing on attention and cognitive enhancement. I did my best to answer, but realized that there were some serious gaps in how well prior work could even address the question. So, from there I launched a few studies in my lab trying to explore whether there is a relationship between attentional/executive functioning skills and one's smartphone and social media habits. That work synergized in several ways with the ongoing research that Larry Steinberg and I have been conducting on the neurodevelopmental factors influencing adolescent decision making, and from this synergy, the premise of the grant proposal - a blending of my prior work on digital media habits and that on the development of executive and socio-emotional processing systems - was born.
- Lauren Alloy (Psychology and Neuroscience) has received new funding from the National Institute of Mental Health for a 5 year project entitled, "Integrated Reward-Circadian Rhythm Model of First Onset of Bipolar Spectrum Disorders in Adolescence."
- For the project entitled, " Constable and Sheriff/Deputy Sheriff Curriculum Development," Anthony Luongo (Criminal Justice) has received renewal funding from the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
- Caterina Roman (Criminal Justice) has received additional funding from the National Opinion Research Center for her project entitled, "Methods to Cost Crime Victimization: Statistical Modelling with Integrated and Survey Data to Comprehensively Measure Harm."
INTERNAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
Temple University Funding Opportunities Portal
InfoReady, OVPR's funding opportunities portal, houses internal funding program mechanisms and externally sponsored limited submission competitions. Log in today to access your account and review current opportunities.
SAMPLING OF EXTERNAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
National Endowment for the Humanities
Deadline: March 2, 2022
National Science Foundation
Deadline: April 22, 2022
RESEARCH EVENTS AND NEWS
Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT) Book Group: Putting the Humanities PhD to Work
*January 20th at noon via Zoom*
Graduate students in the Humanities are encouraged to join. Faculty and administrators are welcome.
Reports are now available for FY2022 Quarter 2. If you receive a notification to certify your report or reports related to employees (students or otherwise) on your sponsored funds and have questions, please contact your departmental administrator.