Department of Physiology Postdoctoral Fellows



Elizabeth A Fucich, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., UTHSC-San Antonio
Advisor: Patricia Molina, Ph.D.
Research: Traumatic brain injury and alcohol use
Department: Physiology

View Curriculum Vitae

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


View Curriculum Vitae


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.


Danielle E. Levitt, Ph.D.
Cropped COE picture
Degree: Ph.D., University of North Texas
Advisors: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D., and Liz Simon, Ph.D.
Research: Alcohol- and gonadal hormone loss-mediated mechanisms
of metabolic dysregulation in SIV
My long-term research interest is to elucidate alcohol-mediated
mechanisms of metabolic dysregulation in order to develop effective methods to counteract such changes in health and disease states.
Currently, my research focuses on alcohol and gonadal hormone
loss-mediated mechanisms of mitochondrial dysregulation in insulin-producing and insulin-sensitive tissues using a simian model of HIV.

View Curriculum Vitae


Amanda R. Pahng, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Tulane University 
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.

View Curriculum Vitae



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

View Curriculum Vitae


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.


Christian Montanari, PhD

Degree: PhD, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD
Research: Neuronal Ensembles Involved in Nicotine and Alcohol Co-Abuse
Department: Physiology

View Curriculum Vitae


Dr. Montanari is interested in the rewarding, motivational and inhibitory behaviors and in their neurobiological basis, both in normal conditions and in neurological and psychiatric illnesses as drug addiction and PTSD. His work at LSUHSC will model in rats the human nicotine and alcohol co-abuse, and it will investigate its neurobiological, cellular and molecular bases.


Former Post-Doctoral Fellows



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.





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

Degree: : Ph.D., LSUHSC-New Orleans
Degree: M.D. from LSUHSC May 2016
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, Ph.D. 
Currently a Pathology resident at West Virginia University School of Medicine.




Emily A. Roltsch Helland, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.
Currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Jun Wang at Texas A&M University.




Megan L. Armstrong, Ph.D.

Degree: : Ph.D., University of Florida
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, Ph.D.
Currently working in private practice as a clinical psychologist.




Tracy Y. Dodd, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., University of South Alabama
Advisor: Patricia Molina, Ph.D.
Currently a medical student at LSUHSC-New Orleans.




Paige S. Katz, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., LSUHSC-New Orleans
Advisor: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Currently Associate Director and Medical Science Liasion at Novartis Oncology.




Christy A. Itoga, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., University of Michigan
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.
Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Irvine.




Annie Whitaker, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., LSUHSC-New Orleans
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D.
Currently a biology teacher at St. Scholastica Academy.


Karina Villalba, MPH, Ph.D.

Degree:  PhD., Florida International University
Advisor: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Currently working at Florida International University.



Anthony A. Duplanty, Ph.D.

Degree:  Ph.D., University of North Texas
Advisor: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Research: Muscle Physiology and metabolic dysregulation in SIV/HIV
View Curriculum Vitae
Currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Women's University.

Anthony Duplanty Photo