The Role of Neurochemicals in Stress/Reward-Related Behaviors and Substance Abuse

Image of dopamine release in the brain as it relates to stress.

Determine dysfunctions of brain and nervous systems implicated in stress-related diseases and substance abuse using a variety of electrochemical, genetic and pharmacological techniques.

Project description

Illicit drug use places a large burden on both society and the user. This project aims to characterize the neurochemical and behavioral changes associated with psychostimulant abuse/stress/reward as well as delineate dysfunctions of the central and peripheral nervous systems in catecholamine related disease states. In this project, we will use a rat model to simultaneously observe changes in neurochemical transmission and behavior. Students will learn many techniques including in vivo genetic manipulations, behavioral pharmacology and basic neuroscience. Students should have an open mind and will be expected to handle rats as well as manually score videos of behaving rats.

Project outcome

The specific outcomes of this project will be identified by the faculty mentor at the beginning of your collaboration. Students will be expected to maintain a laboratory notebook and submit a biweekly report utilizing the scientific method.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Year-long (10-12 months)
Start time Anytime
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Small group project (2-3 students)
Benefits Academic credit; Work study
Who is eligible All undergraduates
Goldwater and the National Science Foundation

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Goldwater Scholarship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Project mentor

Jinwoo Park

Assistant Professor

Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences

314 Farber, 3435 Main Street


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • Students will be required to read project-related articles as outlined through a meeting with the project mentor.


Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences