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Christina Ragan, PhD

How did you become interested in neuroscience?
As a kid, I was always curious about the world around me. Naturally, I enjoyed science classes and signed up for almost all of the ones that were offered in school. If you really enjoy something, get to know everything about it! In high school, I took AP Psychology, and that’s where I fell in love with the brain. Later, in college, I had an internship at Johns Hopkins University in a Neuroscience lab. I had a great experience there, and my research mentor encouraged me to apply Neuroscience graduate programs, so I did!

What was the academic/professional path you had to take to get here?
In high school, I took several science classes. In college at Towson University in Maryland, I was a Molecular Biology major and Chemistry minor. The research experience at Johns Hopkins was really what drove me to pursue Neuroscience, and in 2011, I earned my PhD in Neuroscience from the Pennsylvania State University under the guidance of Dr. Sonia Cavigelli. In the summer of 2011, I joined Dr. Joseph Lonstein’s lab at MSU as a postdoctoral fellow to continue my training in Behavioral Neuroscience.

What are your current research interests?
If you have a sibling, would you say you’re like two peas in a pod, or different as night and day? Are you the adventurous one, and your sibling is the shy one? My primary research interests lie in determining early-life predictors of adult sibling differences in anxiety-related behavior and physiology. Specifically, I am curious about how variance in maternal care early in life plays a role in sibling differences in anxiety found later in life with a particular focus on serotonergic systems.