Postdoctoral Fellows

Elizabeth Avegno, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., Columbia University, Pharmacology and Molecular Signaling
Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.
Research: Relationship between the ventral tegmental area and central amygdala in rodent model of alcohol dependence


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Udita Datta, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., Bowling Green State University
Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.
Research: Understanding the neurobiological basis of addiction and factors that contribute to individual differences in addiction trajectories.






Elizabeth A Fucich, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Advisor: Patricia Molina, Ph.D.
Research: Traumatic brain injury and alcohol use
Department: Physiology


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E Fucich2

My research addresses the neural mechanisms underlying the interaction between traumatic brain injury and alcohol use. I am also interested in how stress interacts with this relationship as well as identifying ways to improve negative outcomes of these concurrent conditions.


Joshua Oakes, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., Cardiovascular Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, January 2016
Advisors: Jason Gardner, Ph.D. and Xinping Yue, Ph.D.
Research: Effects of inhalable nicotine on the development of cardiopulmonary disease


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My long term research interest is how the airborne inhalation of nicotine leads to the development of cardiac disease. More specifically, my research is looking at the effects of nicotine on the renin-angiotensin system and its effects on cardiac function.


Amanda R. Pahng, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Neuroscience Program, Tulane University October 2015
Advisors: Scott Edwards, Ph.D.
Research: Neurobiological mechanisms of altered cognitive behavior and relapse propensity in alcohol dependence
Department: Physiology


  • Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) 39th Annual Scientific Meeting Junior Investigator Award
  • 4th International Congress on Alcoholism and Stress held in Volterra, Italy NIH Travel Award
  • 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist Travel Award from the Association for Women in Science-Southern Louisiana (AWIS-SL) Chapter
  • Central Nervous System Section Research Recognition Award, American Physiological Society, Experimental Biology 2018 Meeting


Pahng AR, Paulsen RI, McGinn MA, Edward KN & Edwards S. (In press). Neurobiological Correlates of Pain Avoidance-Like Behavior in Morphine-Dependent and Non-Dependent Rats. Neuroscience.

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My long-term research interest is to determine how specific cellular changes influence cognitive deficits and relapse propensity in alcohol-dependent animals. In addition, I am interested in investigating cognitive mechanisms affected by chronic pain in rodents as well as altered signaling in reward-, pain-, and cognition-related circuitry in non-human primate models of HIV/alcohol comorbidity.


Marcus Weera, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Neuroscience, Purdue University, August 2017
Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.
Research: Neural mechanisms underlying substance use and co-morbid disorders.
Department: Physiology

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Dr. Weera is interested in elucidating the neural circuits and neurobiological factors that underlie substance (primarily alcohol) use disorders. Further, his research seeks to understand the neural bases of co-morbid substance use and psychiatric (e.g. post-traumatic stress) disorders , as well as between different types of substance use disorders. The goal of Dr. Weera's research is to inform prevention and treatment strategies for substance use and related psychiatric disorders.


Former Post-Doctoral Fellows

Matthew Auten, M.D., Ph.D.

Degree: : Ph.D. in Clinical Microbiology, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology, LSUHSC-New Orleans

Degree: M.D. from LSUHSC May 2016

Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, Ph.D. 



Currently a first year Pathology resident at West Virginia University School of Medicine


Emily A. Roltsch Helland, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.





Currently working as a postdoctoral fellow int he lab of Dr. Jun Wang at Texas A&M University School of Medicine in the Department fo Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics.


Megan L. Armstrong, Ph.D.

Degree: : Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida

Advisors: Patricia Molina, MD, Ph.D. and Gregory Bagby, Ph.D.


Currently in private Practice


Tracy Y. Dodd, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of South Alabama

Advisors: Patricia Molina, Ph.D.



Curretnly  a second year medical student  at LSUHSC.


Paige S. Katz, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Advisors: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.



Currently working in industry.


Christy A. Itoga, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., University of Michigan

Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.


Currently  at the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Neuropsychology, Biological Psychology and Physiology.


Annie Whitaker, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D. Department of Physiology  Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.



Currently teaching at the High School level.


Karina Villalba, MPH, Ph.D.

Degree:  PhD., Roberto Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Florida International University

Advisors: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.


Currently working at Florida Internationa University.



Anthony A. Duplanty, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., University of North Texas August 2015
Advisors: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Research: Muscle Physiology and metabolic dysregulation in SIV/HIV


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Anthony Duplanty Photo

Currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health Sciences at Texas Women's University, in Denton Texas.