My research focuses on the intersection of sex hormones and the stress response. In particular, the ability of estradiol to modulate the cortisol response in women. To investigate how ovarian hormone levels can affect the adrenal cortisol and progesterone responses to stress, I study post-menopausal women using and not using estradiol therapy, pre-menopausal women not using hormonal contraception during various points of the natural menstrual cycle, and women using hormonal contraception during the different phases of the hormonal contraceptive cycle. In testing these effects, I also examine whether the influence of ovarian hormones on the stress response alters the typical effects of stress on cognition.
I utilize a number of modalities in my research program including behavioral testing, neuroimaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) for hormone measurements.