Adjunct Research Asst. ProfessorPhD, 1997, Duke UniversityLSL N235dianek@umass.eduResearch Area(s): Behavioral NeuroscienceCenter and Institute Affilitation: Institute for Applied Life SciencesTabsResearch One of my lines of research examines the sex-specific modulation of neural circuitry in the mammalian brain. Sex differences in the brain are often identified by dimorphisms in the size and number of neurons within specific regions; we have recently identified one region that also has sex-specific expression of one type of estrogen receptor. This discovery, in a region associated with reproductive and social behaviors as well as the modulation of stress and anxiety, makes it possible to investigate how differences in protein expression within neurons may influence male and female behaviors. One challenge to determining how sex differences in protein expression can affect the neuronal activity within this brain region is identifying the relevant connectome: sexually dimorphic regions contain neurons that make hundreds, if not thousands of connections, and it is difficult to tease out which neurons are part of dimorphic circuits. We are currently using immunohistochemistry and three-dimensional imaging of the sexually dimorphic protein as a marker to trace connectomes within this region inside the brains of male and female mice. Future work will include electrophysiological and optogenetic techniques to investigate how these circuits affect behavior. I also study the functional morphology and evolution of intromittent organs, and I’m currently collaborating with Brandon Moore (Sewanee, University of the South) and Patricia Brennan (Mount Holyoke College) to figure out how the system evolved in archosaurs.