Meet the Researcher - Dorian Tignor

Breakout Room: 4

DorianTignor_HeadShotResearcher Name: Dorian Tignor
Co-Presenter: Kathryn Bates
Title of Research: Effect of Maternal Behavior and Environmental Enrichment on Anxiety, Memory, and Resiliency in Rats
Division Representing: Biology
Institution: Longwood University
Institution Location: Virginia
Home State: Virginia
District Number: 5
Advisor/Mentor: Richard Franssen
Funding Source: State Funding

Research Experience: 
Dori Tignor is a senior biology student at Longwood University. She is involved in a neurobiology research lab studying maternal behavior in rats, specifically the role of motherhood on pup anxiety, depression, and memory. She is also an undergraduate research student in a developmental biology lab studying the effects of water quality on vertebrate gene misexpression. She also has experience researching wildlife management and roadkill patterns in Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya. 

Presentation Experience: 
Dori Tignor has experience presenting scientific research in a poster format to undergraduate neuroscience students and professors at the Symposium for Young Neuroscientists and Professors of the SouthEast. She has also given both oral and poster presentations at the Student Showcase for Research and Creative Inquiry at Longwood University. During her semester abroad in Tanzania, East Africa, Dori presented research on roadkill data to both scientific members of the community, government officials, and non-scientific community members. Dori presented a proposal defense to members of multiple disciplines at Longwood University in order to conduct a Senior Honors Research project.

Significance of Research:      
Significant research has been dedicated to understanding the role of maternal behavior on offspring in the rat model. In our lab we presented mother rats with eight pups in one of three ratios of their own pups to pups from another mother: 8:0, 4:4 , 0:8. Not surprisingly, we previously showed that mother rats retrieve and care for the 8:0 and 4:4 pup groups more quickly than they retrieve 0:8 pups. Surprisingly, however, we showed that some mother rats would quickly retrieve pups regardless of group and other mothers would ignore pups regardless of group. Based on these findings, we then identified mother rats as 'Good', 'Average', or 'Bad'. In this study, there were two goals. Firstly, determine if there is a relationship between type of mother and anxiety, memory, and resilience in pups. Secondly, identify if environmental enrichment could help a pup of a bad mother become a good mother in the future. To do this we split pups into two groups, Control Housing and those with Enriched Housing (chew toys and extra bedding). We then tested the pups on a battery of behavioral tests, including the Elevated Plus Maze (anxiety), Forced Swim Test (resilience), Morris Water Maze (spatial memory), and a Novel Object Preference Test (non-spatial memory). Our results correlate maternal behavior with performance on these tests. 

Uniqueness of Research: 
This project will contribute to the current literature on maternal behavior in rats by continuing to investigate maternal behavior both as a correlate to anxiety, resilience, and memory in adult rats. The results of this study will also contribute to anxiety and depression research in the field of neurobiology.


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