Dr. Shelly B. Flagel was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio, came to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, and never left. Dr. Flagel became involved in research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program conducted an undergraduate thesis project under the mentorship of Dr. Israel Liberzon, and graduated with High Honors in Psychology as a Natural Science. She then matriculated into the Neuroscience Graduate Program and conducted her graduate thesis work under the mentorship of Drs. Delia Vazquez and Terry Robinson. Her thesis project examined the effects of early life stress on drug-taking behavior in adulthood. After obtaining her PhD, Dr. Flagel joined the laboratory of Dr. Huda Akil and conducted her postdoctoral training at the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. Dr. Flagel "opened" her lab in the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan in 2011 and is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. In addition to "doing science", Dr. Flagel enjoys being the mom of two young boys, the outdoors, exercising and travelling.
Paolo was born in Sardinia, Italy, but completed his studies at Sapienza - University of Rome, where he received a B.SC in Psychological Sciences and a M.Sc. in Cognitive Neuroscience. During his studies he worked in the laboratory of 'Developmental Psychobiology and Behavioral Genetics' under the mentorship of Prof. Simona Cabib, where he studied how the impact of a previous stress history alters the behavioral and neural adaptations to environmental challenges in different inbred mouse strains. In December 2014 Paolo received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Sapienza University, with a dissertation titled "A genotype-environment interaction modulates the involvement of different memory systems in the consolidation of stress related memories." In September 2015 Paolo came to Ann Arbor to join the Flagel Lab as a post-doctoral fellow. His current research interests are focused on the study of the brain mechanisms underlying maladaptive behaviors and the study of individual differences in liability to drug addiction. In his spare time, Paolo loves playing guitar, listening to rock music and home-recording.
Aram grew up in Washington DC, received his B.Sc. in Psychology from Bates College in 2004, worked three years in Dr. William Carlezon’s Behavioral Genetics Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, and received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2012. His thesis examined the contribution of methamphetamine-induced dysfunctions in the corticostriatal pathway to persistent drug seeking behavior. He is now a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Huda Akil’s laboratory, and collaborates with the Flagel Lab on a regular basis. Aram’s overall research interest is to understand how environment, behavioral experiences, and neurobiological factors contribute to susceptibility for neuropsychiatric conditions including mood disorders and drug addiction.
Senior Scientists & Research Specialist
Steve began his research career at the University of Michigan, where he received a B.S. with High Honors in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science while working in the laboratory of Dr. Kent Berridge. He then obtained his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in Dr. Peter Holland's laboratory, completing a thesis on the neural basis of sign-tracking. Steve next completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College in Dr. Kyle Smith's laboratory investigating the neural circuitry of cue-reward learning. Steve joined the Flagel lab in September 2018. His current research interests are focused on understanding the neural pathways mediating reward-seeking behaviors that may result in the development of drug addiction.
Lauren grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and received her B.A. in French from Johns Hopkins University. She then went on to complete her veterinary medicine degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. During that time, she was able to explore the laboratory animal field as a summer fellow at MIT and an extern at various academic research institutions – gaining a global perspective of veterinary medicine. In the summer of 2017, she joined the University of Michigan as a veterinary resident in laboratory animal medicine. Her research involvement includes qualification of DNA mutations in guinea pigs, development of a guide to assess pain in mice, and evaluating the enrichment preferences of zebrafish. Lauren was awarded Associate Fellow status by the Higher Education Academy in the UK in recognition of her contribution to teaching and supporting learning in higher education. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys hiking with her dog and travelling.
Amanda was raised in Southern California and received her B.A. in Psychology from California State University – Fullerton (CSUF). While at CSUF, she participated in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers program under the mentorship of Dr. Jennifer Trevitt; where she studied the effects of a western diet and physical activity on anxiety and learning. Amanda joined the Program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Michigan and matriculated into the Neuroscience Graduate Program in the fall of 2017. Her research interests include the complex biological mechanisms and subcortical, hypothalamic neural circuitry that may subserve individual differences in cue-motivated behaviors. And, more specifically, how these differences can help us understand maladaptive behaviors related to reward and motivation, such as drug addiction. Amanda enjoys spending time with her dog, hiking, and crafting in her spare time.
Sofia received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso, where she worked with Dr. Edward Castañeda investigating the role of dopamine plasticity in neurodegeneration. In the fall of 2015 she joined the University of Michigan’s Neuroscience Graduate Program. Sofia’s interests include understanding the neural mechanism underlying maladaptive behavior such as addiction, stress, and anxiety. Specifically, she is interested in the individual differences that drive or prevent the manifestation of such behaviors. Outside of the lab, Sofia enjoys training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and going on the occasional jog.
Jasmine is from Sterling Heights, Michigan, and joined the lab during her freshman year at the end of 2019. She is a student in the LSA Honors Program, planning to major in Neuroscience. After graduating, she hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career as a physician. Outside of her time in the lab, she enjoys watching new movies, listening to music, and taking personality quizzes.
Hannah is from Princeton, New Jersey and joined the Flagel Lab after transferring to Michigan from Rutgers University in September 2019. She previously worked with Dr. Amy Kohtz in the Aston-Jones lab at Rutgers investigating the effects of estrous cycle and oxytocin on cocaine demand. She is currently pursuing a major in neuroscience and hopes to attend graduate school in the future. Her research interests include reward mechanisms in the brain and their implications in reward motivated psychological disorders. Outside the lab, Hannah likes to do art, bake, and play with her five cats and dog.
Michael is from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He joined the lab in May 2019 and is studying Biology, Health, and Society. Michael interested in one day becoming a neurologist, and outside of class and lab he enjoys playing soccer and video games with friends.
Alexandra is from Dearborn, Michigan, and joined the Flagel Lab in March 2019. She is in the LSA Honors Program and currently pursuing a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Spanish. She hopes to attend medical school in the future. In her free time, she enjoys boxing, going to concerts, and baking.
Recent Lab Alumni
Current position: Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Current position: Medical Student at University of Pittsburgh
Current position: Graduate Student at Johns Hopkins University (http://www.janaklab.com/)
Current position: Assistant Professor of Psychology, Quinnipiac University
Current position: Graduate Student in Biomedical Engineering, Michigan State University
Position as of August 2020: NIDA Postbaccalaureate Program, Dr. Nora Volkow’s Lab
Current position: Neuroscience Gradate Student, University of California, Berkeley
Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow at Medical University of South Carolina, Kalivas Lab
Current position: MSTP Student, University of Chicago (http://bensmaialab.org/lab-members/)
Current position: Medical Student at University of Michigan
Current position: Pursuing Masters in Public Health at the University of Michigan
Current position: Medical Student at the University of Cincinnati
Previous Lab Members