Neuroimmunology and Neurotoxicology Laboratory

Gisel Flores-Montoya
Gisel Flores-Montoya

The Neuroimmunology and Neurotoxicology Laboratory, led by Gisel Flores-Montoya, focuses on better understanding how the neuroimmune system influences behavior in health and disease. Our research is translational, that is, findings from human studies inform the development of hypotheses for animal studies and vice versa. The lab is currently examining the effects of chronic low-level lead exposure on neuroimmune cells in the brain, meningeal lymphatics, and on memory using a model of C57BL/6j mice. The final goal of the laboratory is to provide foundational studies that might aid in the development of a treatment that might rescue the detrimental effects of chronic low-level lead exposure on memory in children. Another focus of research is examining how the newly discovered meningeal lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain might influence memory in health and in disease (e.g. after pathogenic exposure).

Are you interested in better understanding biological and neuroimmune factors underlying neurotoxicity and behavior? My research laboratory uses mouse models to study neuroimmune factors associated with decreased neurocognition as a result of exposure to low-levels of lead during early development. Currently, we are testing the potential effectiveness of a natural and cost-effective intervention for mitigating the lead-induced effects on neuroimmunity and behavior in mice.  I am looking for 1 student research partnerto join our research team of 5 students beginning in the spring term of 2023 Additionally, starting fall 2023 I will have more research positions available and I will circulate a new email during spring term of 2023 for students to apply (if you are interested in joining in fall rather than spring term please indicate this in the comments section in your submission or await for the email that I will send out later in spring term). 

In the laboratory students will become familiar with literature on chronic low-level lead exposure (in child and mouse studies), neuroimmune factors influencing neurocognition, and mouse behavioral testing. Students will learn to design and conduct studies, share their findings in poster presentations at conferences, and may participate in writing manuscripts for publication.

Students that do research in my lab must be comfortable handling and working with mice and be willing to avoid using scents such as perfume, cologne, deodorant, or strong scented hair products because those can interfere with mouse behavior. Additionally you should be willing to do the following:

1. Commit to two to three terms in the lab 

2. Register for 2-3 credits for PSYC 300 

3. Attend lab meeting during the 2-3c time slot (T and Th from 10:10-11:55) for Spring term 2023

4. Willing to work 8-10 hours per week (this includes lab meeting time) on research-related tasks

If you would like to join the lab please complete the form on the neuroimmunology and neurotoxicology lab application form  to apply to join the team. If you have questions please email me. 

Submit an application by March 15, 2023 to receive full consideration. Short interviews (e.g. 10-15 min) may be conducted via zoom during spring break. 

Eric Hoopfer, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Eric Hoopfer

The Hoopfer Lab

Research in the Hoopfer Lab is focused on understanding how social behaviors are encoded in the brain. My research combines techniques from molecular biology, genetics, and animal behavior to study the genes and neural circuits that regulate social behavior like aggression and courtship. Projects in the lab use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to investigate the neural circuit mechanisms that regulate these behaviors and the underlying brain states that influence them.

Current research is focused on identifying the neural circuits that mediate aggressive behavior. To do this, we are using genetic techniques to label neurons that show increased activity when flies are fighting. This genetic labeling technique allows us to characterize the morphology of these populations using confocal microscopy and activate or inhibit their firing in order to understand how they affect aggressive behavior. A second research focus is on understanding how neuromodulators motivate flies to engage in social behaviors. We are using associative learning assays combined with genetic manipulation of neuronal activity to investigate the neuromodulators that underlie reward states associated with social behaviors like mating and courtship.

To learn more about how we are using fruit flies to understand social behavior, check out this video on work that I did as a postdoctoral fellow in David Anderson’s lab at Caltech.

I am looking for student researchers for an 8-week summer internship in my lab. My research is aimed at understanding the genetic and neuronal basis of behaviors like aggression and courtship. The research project will involve using genetic tools, behavior assays, and confocal microscopy to identify neurons in male flies that produce aggressive behavior. To find out more about research in the lab click here.

This is a full-time position with a stipend. Interested students must be able to commit to the full 8 weeks. If you are interested, please fill out this form. Applications received before March 10th will receive priority. If you have questions, please email me at

Meerts Hormone and Behavior Lab

Sarah Meerts
Sarah Meerts

The lab overseen by Sarah Meerts investigates the neural and hormonal factors involved in the expression and development of motivated behaviors.  Specifically, we are working to better understand the role of the brain, hormones and sensory inputs that contribute to the rewarding nature of mating behavior in female rats. We are investigating the interactions between hormones and the brain that occur during puberty in female rats that are necessary for adult social interactions. To examine these questions, we combine behavioral observation and classical conditioning procedures with pharmacological and neuroanatomical techniques.

Primate Cognition Lab

Julie Neiworth

Julie Neiworth is the primate faculty researcher, entering her 21st year of working with and getting to know the tamarins at Carleton College, a total group of 31 monkeys that have spanned over three monkey generations, involving more than 100 undergraduate collaborators, supported by four NIH grants totaling $1,101,651, and producing more than two dozen publications and presentations. Her current focus is cognitive decline that occurs naturally with aging, and specifically with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Please visit the lab website to find out more about our research, the monkeys, student collaborators, and the possibility of taking a tour.

Matt Rand
Matt Rand

The Rand Lab

Matt Rand, a vertebrate reproductive biologist, studies the hormonal mediation and function of sexually dimorphic traits. Currently the Rand Lab is looking at the role of genes in determining pigment differences in Sceloporus lizards and bullsnakes. 

The Wolff Lab

Jennifer Wolff, Biology
Jennifer Wolff

Jennifer Wolff’s lab uses classic and molecular genetic techniques to study how neuronal fates are specified by transcription factors, using the nematode C. elegans as our model system. Students in the Wolff lab work on projects including molecular cloning and analysis of fluorescent transgene expression in neurons, mutant analysis, and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.