"Through the Scholars program, I hope to learn valuable research experience, both by running my own experiment as well as writing and publishing a paper."
My primary research interest is in behavioral pharmacology, which is the study of the effects of drugs on behavior.
- I have been very active in the equestrian community since I was 5 years old. It has taught me so much about responsibility and leadership and I hope to continue riding for the rest of my life.
- Since a young age I have been a volunteer at Wakulla Springs State Park (in the Tallahassee area) and the Office of Greenways and Trails. At the state park, I participate in clean-up days, the Wildlife Festival, and Creature Features (showings of the Creature of the Black Lagoon movies, which were filmed at the park). At OGT, I file grant applications, make folders for workshops and events, and go on trail inspections.
Hobbies and Interests
- I love water. I grew up on a river and water's ability to both sooth and excite have always been intriguing to me. Kayaking, swimming, sailing, wind surfing, scuba diving, fishing and just enjoying the beach are some of my favorite activities.
The Effects of Amphetamine on Risky Decision Making
For many people who have ADHD, medication can help them live a more normal lifestyle by helping to lessen some of their symptoms. However, most ADHD medications are stimulants such as amphetamine; and little is known about the long term effects of taking drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin. The research that has been done on the cognitive and behavioral effects of these drugs has provided mixed-outcomes and therefore more research is necessary to determine how decision making and risk-taking are affected with extended use. Not only is it important to know about the long-term effects of these drugs in the context of pharmaceutical uses, but also because amphetamine is a commonly abused psychostimulant, in the same class as cocaine and methamphetamine. Research has shown that people who use these psychostimulants show deficits in decision making, but whether people who have natural deficits in decision making are drawn towards the use of these drugs or the deficits are caused by the drugs themselves remains to be seen. Long-Evans rats are trained to complete a decision making task where they chose either a small, safe food reward or a large, risky food reward. The risk involved would be a slight foot shock, which would be delivered at a range of probabilities. After collecting baseline data, the rats are then be given amphetamine injections for one month (as per Floresco and Whelan, 2009) and complete the same task to determine how chronic amphetamine affected risky decision-making (and also to see whether rats with different baseline levels of risk preferences are affected differently by chronic amphetamine – e.g. – are the risk averse rats more affected by chronic drug than the risk-takers).