I have a longstanding research interest in neural mechanisms driving behavior and how environmental triggers such as diet can influence these brain systems. Current studies seek to explore the role of neuroinflammation and microglial response in neurodegeneration, neuroprotection, and interactions with external stressors such as dietary fats. I have a broad background in behavioral neuroscience, with specific experience and training in areas key to the completion of studies in these fields of research. During my doctoral work I performed studies examining the link between neuropeptide signaling and patterns of physical activity in a diurnal rodent. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, I continued to pursue studies of activity and energy expenditure, investigating the effects of supplementing or interfering with peptide signaling in various hypothalamic nuclei to affect weight gain, food intake, and energy expenditure in rodent models of obesity. As PI on a VA-funded grant I examined anatomical and behavioral evidence for peptide signaling in the promotion of ingestion and energy expenditure. Currently funded and proposed work seeks to elucidate the role of microglial phenotypic shifts in neuroprotection and neurodegenerative disease.