About Me

I am currently a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Karen Bales at UC-Davis. My research uses a comparative approach across rodents, primates, and humans to better understand the neural function of the oxytocin and vasopressin systems. In the Bales lab, we investigate the neural mechanisms of pair-bonding and social attachment in the monogamous coppery titi monkey, which we study at the California National Primate Research Center. The broader goal of this research is to better understand the neurobiological basis of social function in humans and to try to identify possible biomarkers or treatment options for clinical populations characterized by deficits in social function, such as individuals with autism spectrum disorders, social anxiety disorder, or schizophrenia.

Sara's Emory graduation May 2014 047I completed my PhD in Neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga in August of 2013, where I worked with Dr. Larry Young at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. My dissertation research focused on the neuroanatomy and pharmacology of the oxytocin receptor in the nonhuman primate brain, and I developed the first reliable method for the visualization of oxytocin receptors in primate brain tissue. I am now using this technique to describe the neural distribution of oxytocin receptors in the human brain and investigating the differences between postmortem specimens from individuals who had autism spectrum disorder and specimens from typically developing individuals.

Throughout my graduate training, teaching has been a high priority, and I have had extensive training and experience with active learning and curriculum development. I designed two interdisciplinary, upper-level seminar courses during graduate school: Intersex: Biology & Gender and The Coevolution of Dogs & Humans.
I was awarded one of Emory’s competitive Sara crystal apple croppedDean’s Teaching Fellowships in my final year of graduate school, which allowed me to independently teach my intersex class. My students nominated me for the Crystal Apple Teaching Award, which only professors were eligible for, but due to the overwhelming nominations by my students, the selection committee made a new category for ‘Teaching by a Graduate Student’ to recognize my efforts. I am committed to a career that prioritizes undergraduate education, and I place a high value on employing innovative and engaging teaching strategies and cross-disciplinary course design.