Lauren DiFazio: Graduate Student

Lauren earned a B.A. from Vassar College in 2018 with honors in Neuroscience and Behavior and a minor in Studio Art. She spent her junior summer interning for Dr. Valerie Bolivar at the NYS Wadsworth Center investigating the relationship between physiological and behavioral deficits in a mouse model of autism spectrum disorders. Upon return to Vassar, she completed an undergraduate thesis on the effect of mindfulness meditation on anxiety in college students.

After graduation, Lauren pursued work with rodent models of learning and behavior and began as a research assistant for Dr. Joseph Manns at Emory University. There, she helped to plan and execute experiments using optogenetics and electrophysiology to study the role of the basolateral amygdala in prioritizing hippocampal dependent memories. Her early time in the lab was heavily focused on behavioral training, but she gradually assumed a leadership role in her project. This experiment demonstrated that optogenetic stimulation to the basolateral amygdala accelerated acquisition of an object-context association task.

Lauren is enthusiastic to continue studying behavioral neuroscience and joined the Sharpe Lab at UCLA as a graduate student in the fall of 2020. She is specifically interested in how prior experience influences the role of the basolateral amygdala and lateral hypothalamus in associative learning.

In her free time Lauren enjoy playing tennis, all other outdoor activities, hanging out with her cat, sewing and visiting her friends all over the country.