Short Professional Biography:
Dr. Perez was the first in her family to go to college; she received her BS in Biology, from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX. As an undergraduate student, she worked in a research lab studying the role that serotonin receptors within the hypothalamus have on behavior. In addition, she did a summer research program at Johns Hopkins University characterizing caffeine withdrawal in humans. It was these two experiences that lead Perez to get her PhD in Neuroscience and begin studying the role of alpha 5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors play during nicotine, alcohol and opioid withdrawal. As a postdoctoral fellow, she continued her work studying the role of alpha 5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in addiction, but focused on how the expression of different gene variants affects behavior.
She also studied the influence that kainate receptors have in reducing alcohol consumption. During both her gradate and postdoctoral training, Dr. Perez mentored several graduate and undergraduate students in the lab. She is passionate about working with undergraduate students to achieve their research goals. As a postdoctoral Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award Post-Doctoral Award Program (IRACDA) fellow, Perez taught at Lincoln University and Rutgers University-Camden, institutions that serve historically underrepresented groups.
Dr. Perez is interested in the neural mechanisms underlying addiction, in particular, nicotine and alcohol. Her lab focuses on characterizing the role of various receptor systems as viable drug cessation aids; in particular, she and her students are investigating the role of neurokinin receptors in modulating nicotine consumption. The lab uses a variety of techniques to measure drug consumption, reward, dopamine release and withdrawal associated behaviors in mice. She is also interested developing novel rodent behavioral models that better represent human behaviors.