What We Do
Our research explores the effects of environmental stressors (e.g. maternal/neonatal infection, psychogenic manipulations, drugs and other neurotoxicants) on the developing brain. We also have a particular interest in evaluating factors that offer neuroprotective and/or rehabilitative potential (e.g. environmental enrichment, maternal care, pharmacological agents) against early-life adversity.
Using rodent models, we assess behavioral performance using a variety of translational behavioral tasks including several sociability metrics, prepulse inhibition, and other indices of emotional reactivity. Neuroendocrine and neurobiological correlates are also evaluated using standard approaches such as ELISA, western blotting, immunochemistry, and qPCR. The lab is currently evolving to include additional methods to evaluate neural circuit adaptations that arise from exposure to enrichment (e.g. environmental complexity, targeted sensory stimulation, maternal care).
Here is a select listing of some of our most recent work:
Those interested in working in the lab (i.e. post-doc, graduate or undergraduate positions) should contact Dr. Kentner by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include a current Curriculum vitae along with a description of their research interests. Potential postdocs should also include a statement about their interest in student mentorship. Preferred undergraduates include those who have taken (and done well in!) at least one of Dr. Kentner's courses: BEH341 (Biological Psychology), BEH457 (Drugs & Behavior), or BEH454 (Stress & Illness).
Amanda (Mandy) Kentner is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston Massachusetts. She earned her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Ottawa, Canada, focusing on sex differences in depression and brain stimulation reward. Current research involves the neuroprotective/rehabilitative role of the environment on health and behavior following perinatal inflammation. She also earned a clinical research certification and consults on good clinical practice (GCP) principles and regulations, in addition to study design, in human participant research. In addition to being a Council Member of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, Dr. Kentner serves on the editorial board of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Her laboratory helped to reactivate the Boston Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, and she served as Secretary for the Chapter. Dr. Kentner has sat on multiple National Science Foundation (NSF) panels and is currently a Social Media Manager for the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.
Arielle Strzelewicz is a Master of Science candidate in the Clinical Research program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences in Boston Massachusetts. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston University in Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences and graduated cum laude. Current research involves measuring the biological and behavioral outcomes of perinatal inflammation combined with early life stress and enrichment interventions. When she is not in the laboratory she works as a substitute teacher in the Framingham school district, and particularly enjoys working with students who have learning disabilities or behavioral plans. She ultimately hopes to enroll in a Doctor of Clinical Psychology program that utilizes the scientist-practitioner training model to combine her love of science and working with children.
My name is Amanda Speno and I am a Pre-medical and Health Science student, with a minor in Health Psychology. I am also in the School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program. I plan on continuing my education in a doctorate program when I graduate. My current interests are in neuroscience, however, my interests in the field of medicine also extend to preventive healthcare and complementary and alternative medicine.
My name is Ryland Roderick and I am in the
Pre-medical and Health Studies (Physician Asst.) major. I became a member of
the Kentner Laboratory in Fall 2018. My current interest include neuroscience, etiology, and the
influence stressors play on the developing brain. In the laboratory I am learning about maternal immune activation models and their role to further our mechanistic understanding of maternal infection and neuropathological and behavioral disorders.
My name is Marina Demild and I am in my second year of the Pharmacology & Toxicology Major. I am currently working in the laboratory as a research assistant, learning several wet-lab techniques. My main project in the laboratory is using an animal model of the neonatal intensive care unit to investigate the beneficial mechanisms that underlie sensory enrichment interventions.
My name is Dominic Rainone, I am a third-year Pre-Medical and Health Studies major with a minor in Chemistry. In the Kentner Laboratory I am collecting data for a large systematic review on environmental enrichment. Moreover, I conduct research in the synthetic chemistry of organic fluorescent compounds as a part of the School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program. Additionally, I am a clinical research intern at the Loddenkemper Pediatric Epilepsy Research Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital. My other medical research interests include autoimmune pathologies, neuroimmunology, and organ transplantation. These foundational research experiences will assist me in my aspirations of completing a doctoral program in medicine and eventually becoming a practicing physician.
My name is Jenny Nguyen and I’m a Doctor of Pharmacy student. I am also a first generation college student. I became a part of the Kentner Laboratory as a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) during my second year and have been a part of the lab since then. Within the past few years, I have participated in research evaluating bisphenol A degradation from laboratory plastic water bottles, the protective mechanisms of environmental enrichment following maternal stress, and social preferences following enrichment. I have learned a lot of different lab techniques such as RNA extraction, qPCR, assays, behavioral testings etc., that I know will be very valuable in the future for my pursuit in Pharmacogenomics. I was awarded the SURF Research Scholar Award, our bisphenol-A research is published, and I have been able to present our other projects at the Boston Area Neuroscience Group Symposium. Besides working in the Kentner Laboratory, I’m also a pharmacy intern at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a peer tutor for Chemistry, and a manager for the center of campus life at MCPHS University.
Urma Khan - BS Health Sciences '16
Patient Care Technician - Neurosciences Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston MA
I’m Urma Khan, and I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Premedical and Health Studies with a minor in Health Psychology. When working in the Neurodevelopmental Brain and Behavior Laboratory, I had the opportunity to collaborate with other students and learn about research methods and conduct data processing. The research experience sparked my interest in neurosciences, as a nursing specialty, and inspired me to work towards a preceptorship on a Neurosciences Intermediate Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, as I completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at Northeastern University this past December. I am currently working on a Neurosciences Unit as a Patient Care Technician at BIDMC, and hope to continue as a Registered Nurse after licensure.
Tiffany Macrina - BS Health Psychology '16
Occupational Therapist - VA Hospital, Aberdeen, Washington
My name is Tiffany Macrina. I am currently working as an occupational therapist in Aberdeen Washington, providing both inpatient and outpatient services in addition to providing care to children at some of the surrounding elementary schools. I learned many skills from my experience in the lab that I have
carried with me through graduate school. I learned to read research articles, how to observe and evaluate behavior, and how to apply myself to learn outside of the classroom. I learned
that the interactions between the environment and other physical, psychological and social factors are important to consider when evaluating a patient's condition, prognosis, and
Stephanie Scalia - BS Pharmacology and Toxicology '18
Graduate Student, Masters in Pharmacology, University of Vermont
My name is Stephanie Scalia and in the Summer of 2017, I was fortunate enough to work as a Research Fellow under the direction of Dr. Kentner through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at the University. During my 10 weeks, I learned how a research project is conducted, several behavioral testing procedures, and how extensive research projects are in laboratory settings. Through SURF, I was awarded the Research Scholar Award, which recognizes the excellence of the research scholar during the 10-week program.
My name is Mary Tran and I volunteered at Dr. Kentner's laboratory during the summer of 2017. I graduated from MCPHS University in 2015 and my major was Premedical and Health Studies. I also was a first generation college student. By working in the laboratory, I learned how research is conducted, how to perform behavioral tests, and how to properly collect and record data. Most importantly, I learned that basic research studies can be used to learn about humans. I am currently working as a radiology tech assistant.
Karen Nunez - MS Pharmacology '16
Clinical Research Associate at Alliance Research Centers, San Diego CA.
Siyang Yan - MS Pharmaceutics '16
Researcher in Pharmacokinetics at Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge MA.
Molly MacRae - BS Premed '16
Clinical Researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center for Leukemia, Boston MA