The key mechanisms through which dopamine transmission organizes neuronal activity to mediate a wide spectrum of (mal-)adaptive behaviors are poorly understood. During my PhD project I aim to dissect how pre- and postsynaptic dopamine signaling in the striatum orchestrates two of its vital functions: movement control and reward prediction. To better understand all aspects of dopamine transmission I utilize a variety of genetics-based tools, such as fast scan cyclic voltammetry, calcium imaging and optogenetics, to record, image, and/or manipulate different regional compartments of the striatum in behavioral paradigms.
My fascination and drive to understand how motivation, memories, and external influences propel individuals to adaptive as well as maladaptive behaviors has led me through a path of clinical and pre-clinical internships during my education. By working near both bench- and bed-side, I have come to understand that progress in clinical research and advancement in treatment opportunities requires strong findings from fundamental, pre-clinical research. After having done one internship at the Willuhn lab, it was clear that this was the right fit for me and my interests and I got the opportunity to pursue a PhD at the lab.