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Meet the Researcher - Kathryn Bates

MEET THE RESEARCHER LIVE ON APRIL 28‚Äč
Breakout Room: 4

KathrynBates_HeadshotResearcher Name: Kathryn Bates
Co-Presenter: Dorian Tignor
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: 
Kathryn Bates is a senior with a double major in biology and psychology with a minor in neuroscience studies. Her research experience includes studying the effects of environmental enrichment on maternal behavior in rats. She also researches acceptance and commitment therapy will a specific focus on defusion interventions. During the winter she works as a supervisor at an adaptive ski school teaching people with disabilities.

Presentation Experience: 
Kathryn Bates has given multiple presentations at the Student Showcase for Research and Creative Inquiry at Longwood University. She has also attended the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference. There, she acted as a representative for the Cormier Honors College by participating in a poster session and an idea exchange. In addition to this, Kathryn gave an oral presentation and lead a round table discussion on safely doing community service during a pandemic at Longwood University's Leadership Summit. Both Dori and Kathryn 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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