I graduated in January 2000 from the neuroscience program at the University of Virginia, where I spent most of my time in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Gold, now at UIUC, after an initial year working with Dr. Dan Willingham on aging and implicit/explicit memory dissociations. My research with Paul was in the area of neurochemistry of memory, and that's continued to be (mostly) my field ever since. Specifically, I looked at fluctuations of glucose in the extracellular fluid (ECF) of the brain as the brain processes memories. Previous work in the lab had shown that giving glucose to either rats or humans could boost performance on a variety of memory tests, but the mechanisms of action were unclear. I started out by looking at the ways in which glucose interacts with other memory modulators, including investigation of differences between brain regions, and moved to look more at the existence and pattern of changes in ECF glucose level and how they are caused/affected. Probably the most important paper from my grad work, which demonstrated task-associated fluctuations in hippocampal ECF glucose correlated with performance and with task difficulty, is here.
After graduating, I spent a year learning electrophysiology and patch-clamping of amygdala cells; this left indelible scars but did produce one paper (the first characterisation of the lateral amygdala, showing that there exist there examples of an interesting late-spiking class of neurons) of which I'm quite proud, sadly only ever published online but freely available here and deserving in my humble opinion of a slightly better fate!
In July 2001 I moved to the lab of Dr. Robert Sherwin in Yale's Med School. His research looks at the mechanisms and effects of diabetes; this was a fabulous place to be a postdoc and later a nascent faculty member, and we were able to find much common ground between my neuroscience and behaviour skills and his diabetes expertise. I've taken some of the lines of research established there with me to Albany - in particular, continuing to explore the cognitive and neural impacts of recurrent hypoglycemia (RH), which is the most common and most feared side-effect of intensive insulin therapy for diabetes: too much insulin can cause hypoglycemic shock. The first two major papers on RH from that work are available here and here; several more are, as of June 2010, either under review or close to it. Another major line of work that continues started with the demonstrtaion that, contrary to previous dogma, insulin is not only active in modulation of brain functions beyond control of food intake, but is in fact a critical component of hippocampal memory and metabolic processes. Not only is memory improved by administration of insulin, but local direct inhibition of insulin signalling within the hippocampus entirely wipes out spatial memory processing - see paper here. I retain an adjunct appointment in Bob's department at Yale, and feel extremely lucky that both my doctoral and postdoctoral mentors were (and are!) simply fabulous people to work for and with, incredibly smart, and encouraging of new research directions even - especially! - when said directions directly opposed then-current thinking, true both of my doctoral glucose work and of my postdoctoral insulin experiments.
Other ongoing research foci include the relationship between insulin and beta-amyloid, in both diabetes (especialy type 2 diabetes) and Alzheimer's disease; the interactions between the brain's multiple memory systems; and the impact of fatty acids and a high-fat diet on cogntive and neural functions. My official Psychology department webpage is here - as will be obvious, I'm somewhat of an outlier in Psychology and in fact the lab is housed in the (splendid) new Life Sciences building, as far from Psychology as it is possible to get on campus!
Away from the lab, I'm lucky to have solved (at least for now!) the perennial academic two-body problem with the move to Albany, as my wife Jenny is a Senior Director at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals who have a site just across the Hudson River; we have two sons aged 7 (Aidan) and 1 (Keiran) as well as assorted cats and most recently newts. I spend a lot of my free time playing various strategy games (and would love to get back into playing bridge, which I used to take quite seriously) so that if you Google me, the half of the hits that are not neuroscience are generally game-related; one of the things we enjoy most about Albany is the plethora of local hiking spots, and the rest of my time seems to be spent keeping up with Aidan's social life...
Thanks for coming by. If you actually know me, as opposed to happened to wander by - and I haven't heard from you recently - do drop me a line!