Elizabeth Crofton, Ph.D.
Pharmacology & Bowles Alcohol Research Center
University of Texas Medical Branch
Melissa Herman, Ph.D. and Leslie Morrow, Ph.D.
My long-term career goal is to conduct cutting-edge addiction research while training the next generation of diverse scientists. My passion for academic research was first sparked as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. I want to share my excitement of science and research with students as a SPIRE scholar and in the future.
My research interests lie in investigating the underlying biological processes of abused drugs in order to better understand substance use disorders and develop effective treatments. Drug addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease with compulsive drug taking despite negative consequences. Former addicts even report waking up in the morning wanting their drug of choice after being sober for twenty years. I have studied aspects of drug addiction in my dissertation project and will continue to do so as a postdoctoral fellow and I hope to continue in the future in my own independent research program.
My dissertation project in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Green at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX focused on identifying novel treatment targets for cocaine use disorder with comorbid depression and anxiety by investigating the cellular mechanisms of environmental enrichment, which shows protective depression and addiction phenotypes in animals. My dissertation focused on the effects of cocaine and the behavioral consequences of altered protein expression in the nucleus accumbens. As a SPIRE scholar, I am investigating the effects of alcohol on the inhibitory networks of the brain, especially the inhibitory circuitry of the central amygdala. I am using molecular and electrophysiological methods under the mentorship of Dr. A. Leslie Morrow and Dr. Melissa Herman to determine the physiological effects of alcohol as well as alterations in GABA receptors.
Throughout graduate school, I mentored several junior graduate students, two summer undergraduate students, and one medical student in the laboratory. I was also able to gain several different teaching experiences, even on a medical school campus without undergraduate students. So far I have grown the most as a teacher by serving as co-instructor for two semesters in a critical reading course in the Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at UTMB. I led recent graduates from under-represented groups in science in discussing a variety of peer-reviewed research articles on a range of topics.
I am excited to further my training in science education and mentoring as a SPIRE scholar while also expanding my research expertise.
Concepts in Biology II – North Carolina A&T State University
Fundamentals in Neurobiology – North Carolina A&T State University
Hughes BA, Crofton EJ, O’Buckley TK, Herman MA, Morrow AL. 2019 Chronic ethanol exposure alters prelimbic prefrontal cortical Fast-Spiking and Martinotti interneuron function with differential sex specificity in rat brain. Neuropharmacology