My name is Chris and I received my Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. I conducted postdoctoral brain imaging research at Vanderbilt University until January 2019. I love writing about science and sharing resources and information with others.

In my current role, I direct the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at North Carolina State University. I help Ph.D.-trained researchers unlock their potential by developing the skills they need to succeed in the world of work, whether that be as a professor, researcher, writer, or policy maker. 

In this LifeApps blog, I plan to focus on helping readers understand human behavior and the brain through science.

The brain and human behavior are complex and there is still a lot researchers don’t know about how the biology of our brain produces the vastly complex behaviors we are capable of. It is an exciting time for brain science as the scientific techniques available to us continue to grow. Genetic sequencing through companies like 23andme has allowed for anyone to learn more about variation in their DNA, a key biological driver of individual differences in the human biology. Furthermore, scientists and doctors now have the tools to peer inside people’s heads and watch their brain “in action.” The acceleration in the development and use of these and other techniques over the past few decades is allowing a growing number of researchers to better understand our brains and behaviors. Here, I will share with you the latest breakthroughs in these domains.  

My 10+ years of research experience centered around understanding how variation in people— be it based on genetics, age, sex, family history, or environmental factors— led to variations in biology and behavior. One behavior of particular interest to me is drug addiction. It is a major cost on our society and risk for developing it is associated with both our biology, behaviors, and environment. Addiction is often misunderstood as a moral failing and that willpower alone can overcome it but, like much I will cover in this blog, the truth is more complex and biologically-based. 

What will be covered in the Brain & Behavior blog?

Some topics I plan to focus on include:

  1. The complex biology of drug addiction 
  2. Stress & the brain
  3. The effects of aging on our brain biology and behavior
  4. The effects of exercise on the brain
  5. How dopamine’s role in the brain is complex and much more than a “reward” signal
  6. How our environment (particularly stress and other challenges) can impact our brain

And so much more!

I look forward to sharing the latest research and findings around these topics with you in an accessible way. I also promise to be balanced in my presentation, illustrating the complexities of many of these topics. 

What one learns the deeper one delves into the scientific process is that most topics are complex and nuanced. Part of my goal is to illustrate that to you. In the end, I hope you not only learn something in each of my posts but that you also come to appreciate that our knowledge is consistently evolving in the complex domains of the brain and human behavior.