Research & Faculty

Summer Research Fellowship Program

Anatomy & Neurobiology Opportunities

Lisa Cooper, Ph.D.

Age-Related Changes to the Joints, with an Emphasis on Articular Cartilage

The overall objective of this study is to characterize the in vivo differences in expression patterns for genes critical to cartilage and joint health, and their phenotypic consequences. Based on preliminary data, the working hypothesis for this study is that bats, compared to mice, display novel in vivo cartilage cell signaling and activity rates in those genes crucial for cartilage maintenance and health.

Rebecca German, Ph.D.

The Effect of Preterm Birth and RLN Damage on Airway Protection and Maturation

We have created an animal model to measure the coordination between respiration and swallowing in infants, and test the impact (1) of prematurity, (2) RLN sensory damage, and (3) the recovery and maturation over time of that coordination. We will be collecting several modalities of data (outlined below), each of which needs to be independently analyzed, and ultimately integrated into a larger picture. A trainee will participate in all aspects of data collection over the summer, but will design and carryout a project that will include hypothesis formulation and testing for a portion of these data. This strategy has been successful with numerous trainees.

Catherine Mattinson, Ph.D.

Gross Anatomy Electronic Educational Resource Development

Our primary goal is to develop and implement electronic educational resources in the gross anatomy lab experience for first year medical students. As part of this goal, we have the following specific aims: 1) to create a virtual dissector for cadaver dissection, 2)   to identify and edit appropriate images, illustrations and photographs for specific  dissection experiences, 3) enhance current resources, such as image quizzes, through the addition of interactive elements, 4) begin to develop videos for use in the laboratory  and 5) establish the pedagogy for how to best deliver multimedia content during laboratory sessions.  The fellowship student will have the opportunity to participate in   each of these goals.

Jeffrey Mellott, Ph.D.

Neurotransmitter Changes in the Auditory System during Age-Related Hearing Loss

The student will determine IC circuits that lose inhibitory input during aging.

Dana Peterson, Ph.D.

Histology Across the Human Lifespan: A Photographic Atlas Projects

Seeking two fellows for eight weeks.
Students will be trained in all phases of tissue processing, paraffin- embedding, sectioning and tissue staining. Students will also be trained to operate the automated slide-scanning system that creates digital images from the prepared tissue slides. Students will learn to utilize the proprietary cell quantification software modules to determine changes in cell numbers and cell types in the analyzed tissue samples across all age and weight categories for organs of the endocrine system, reproductive systems and integumentary systems. The primary goal for the summer of 2018 is to process approx. 1,000 autopsied tissue samples.

Merri Rosen, Ph.D.

The interactive effects of developmental stress and hearing loss on auditory perceptual abilities

The overall research question that the student’s work will address is whether early life stress induces perceptual deficits for basic temporally-varying auditory stimuli.

Sharad Shanbhag, Ph.D.

Brain Circuitry and Neurochemistry Underlying Hearing and Emotions

Our long-term goal is to improve the understanding of neural mechanisms that underlie acoustic communication. The specific aims of the project are: (1) to identify the cortical and subcortical structures that provide information to the basolateral amygdala for contextual processing of social vocalizations, and (2) to identify and quantify the neurochemicals responsible for contextual modulation. We hypothesize that discrimination and selectivity in response to social vocalizations arises from projections of secondary auditory cortical areas. We further hypothesize that inputs from the prefrontal cortex, ventral tegmental area and hippocampus underlie contextual modulation of auditory responses. This work will provide guidance for future studies that investigate the origin of social vocalization selectivity in the basolateral amygdala. Of further interest is whether the stimulus selectivity found in BLA neurons is inherited from inputs or arises from local circuit interactions with inputs.

Hans Thewissen, Ph.D.

CT investigation of cetacean fetuses

To produce three dimensional reconstructions based on CT data of organ systems studied in the lab, especially the sense organs (olfaction, vision, hearing, balance). The specific research question is to determine the shape differences in the sense organs between the fetuses studied and younger fetuses, as well as postnatal individuals.

Chris Vinyard, Ph.D.

Oral processing and performance of mouth behavior groups during feeding.

The primary goal of this project is to conduct a series of assessments to determine how preferred mouth behavior relates to oral processing during mastication of various foods. Oral processing will be evaluated using EMG and a jaw-tracking device, which will measure jaw-muscle activity and jaw movement patterns, respectively. These techniques will be employed in three different scenarios. In the first scenario, we will assess how members of the four mouth behavior groups chew a series of different foods that are behaviorally linked to each of the groups (e.g., chocolates including nuts [crunchers/chewers] vs softer, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates [smooshers/suckers]). Second, we will assess how members of the four groups chew different food-grade gels of known material properties to evaluate physiological variation while holding food material properties constant. Third, we will assess any behavior by oral processing interaction during feeding by allowing participants to choose various foods that are behaviorally linked to the mouth behavior groups.

Jeff Wenstrup, Ph.D.

Determining the Meaning of Mouse Vocalizations

The goal is to determine the emotional meaning of the four major classes of mouse vocalizations.

Learning objectives:

  • The student will learn to assess stress levels in mice behaviorally.
  • The student will learn to analyze mouse vocalizations emitted in response to playback of conspecific vocalizations
  • The student will become familiar with the measurement of hormones in blood.
  • The student will become familiar with the medical research environment by actively participating in lab meetings and departmental journal clubs


Nona Hose
Phone: 330.325.6499


Northeast Ohio Medical University