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About Laura Elena O'Dell

My long-term career goal is to establish a strong research program that involves mentoring trainees who are interested in pursuing a career in Neuroscience. My research interests lie in the application of scientific principles to the study of how the brain controls behavior. During my training, I have dedicated myself to learning research skills that I can apply to my research program investigating the neural mechanisms of drug addiction. More specifically, I have studied the brain mechanisms that mediate the reinforcing and toxic effects of abused substances, such as nicotine, alcohol, heroin, and cocaine. Throughout my career, I have combined various behavioral and biochemical tools to study drug abuse. These include place conditioning, self-administration, locomotor behavior, anxiety-like behavior, and intracranial brain self-stimulation. I have also applied techniques such as in vivo microdialysis, receptor binding, second messenger assays, quantitative PCR, and Western blot analysis. As part of my career goals, I hope to continue to learn new biochemical skills that I can apply to my research using state-of-the-art research skills. Part of my goal is to also maintain an independently funded research program. In 2007, I was awarded with a 5-year (R01 grant) examining developmental differences to the rewarding and aversive effects of nicotine and this award was extended via a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This research program has expanded to include nicotine use in other vulnerable populations, including females and persons with diabetes. Another important goal is to mentor students. My desire to mentor a diverse population of students is reflected in my work at UTEP, which is a minority serving institution with 85% Hispanic students. I have enjoyed working with students, and I hope to continue to build my research program on the basis of strong student-mentor relationships.

Positions

Present Professor, University of Texas at El Paso
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Curriculum Vitae



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Honors and Awards

  • 2017 Research Exemplar Award.
  • 2016 Excellence in Mentoring given by the National Hispanic Science Network on Drugs of Abuse
  • 2015 Faculty Mentor Award given by the UTEP College of Undergraduate Research Initiatives
  • 2012 Outstanding Performer in securing extramural funding given by the UTEP Office of Research and Sponsored Projects
  • 2008 Outstanding Performer in securing extramural funding given by the UTEP Office of Research and Sponsored Projects
  • 2008 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
  • 2006 Outstanding Young Investigator in The College of Liberal Arts

Courses

  • Psychobiology
  • Animal Models
  • Drugs and Behavior
  • Ethics and Professional Development
  • Grant Writing

Education

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1992 - 1997 Ph.D., Graduate Student, Arizona State University ‐ Psychology
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Contact Information

The University of Texas at El Paso
Department of Psychology
500 West University
El Paso, TX 79968


Review papers (11)

Alcohol papers (9)

Nicotine papers (17)