Distinguished Professor of Psychology
Spear’s current research uses animal models to examine fundamental characteristics of adolescence, including adolescent sensitivity to ethanol. Of particular interest are the contribution of pubertal hormones and adolescent brain changes, as well as adolescent-relevant motivational strategies, stressors and peer affiliations to risk taking, alcohol/drug use, and other problem behaviors of adolescence. Other work in the laboratory focuses on consequences of alcohol exposure and/or stressors during adolescence on later neurobehavioral function, with a particular focus on social anxiety and later intake of alcohol and other drugs. Spear also collaborates with other researchers (the Collaborative Ethanol Group [CEG]) in the conduct of human field studies designed to test applicability of basic research findings regarding adolescent alcohol sensitivities to college-age drinkers.
Contact Linda P. Spear (firstname.lastname@example.org) during pre-registration of the semester prior to the semester in which the student would like to begin work in the laboratory. Generally, new undergraduate research assistants are added to the laboratory during the summer as well as the fall semester, with at least a 1 year commitment to work in the laboratory (assuming satisfactory performance).
Types of Research Experiences Available
Much of the work in the laboratory involves behavioral and psychopharmacological testing of laboratory animals (typically, Sprague Dawley rats), and assistance in maintaining those animals. Limited opportunities for interested students to assist in surgical procedures and hormone and other assays are also available.
Congenial, motivated and reliable students are encouraged to apply to the laboratory. Students accepted to enter the lab are typically integrative neuroscience or psychology majors in their sophomore or junior years, with completed or ongoing coursework in Drugs and Behavior and/or Physiological Psychology.