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Lee Baugh, Ph.D.

Neural Correlates of Decision Making

Research within the Baugh / Scholl Lab has previously examined the process of decision making utilizing a wide range of behavioral and neuroimaging approaches including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). Current SPURA research has focused on the use of neuromodulation techniques (transcranial direct current and magnetic stimulation) to impose changes on impulsive behavior by modifying brain activity in human participants. The information gained from this research may offer novel intervention and treatment regimens for impulsive behaviors associated with a wide range of addictions such as in eating disorders and substance abuse while providing further information as to the brain systems involved in short-term, reward-seeking, compulsions.

Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences (Vermillion)
Email: Lee.Baugh@usd.edu

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Chris Berghoff, Ph.D.

Mindfulness, Acceptance and Substance Use in Daily Life

My research interests are twofold:

  • To gain a better understanding of the events that occur in everyday life that precipitate substance use, the consequences that maintain such behavior and psychological factors that make one more susceptible to misuse
  • Evaluating the usefulness of mindfulness and acceptance based behavioral treatments for co-occuring substance use and anxiety and trauma-related disorders

Research projects will likely involve self-report ecological momentary assessment and physiological data collected with wearable devices such as the Apple Watch.

Department of Psychology (Vermillion)
Email: Chris.Berghoff@usd.edu


Brian Burrell, Ph.D.

Cannabinoid Modulation: Synapses to Behavior

My lab studies the mechanisms by which endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitters) alter synaptic signaling as well as the functional/behavioral effects of this neuromodulation. The current focus is on the ability of endocannabinoids to alter nociception (the perception of pain), but these studies also have relevance to other behavioral processes such as learning and memory.

Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences (Vermillion)
Email: Brian.Burrell@usd.edu

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BreAnne Danzi, Ph.D.

My interests broadly focus on the mental health of children and families, especially those impacted by stress and trauma. My research focuses on understanding children's responses to traumatic stress, improving the assessment of PTSD in children, and identifying biopsychosocial factors (e.g., genetics, social support) that contribute to risk and resilience trajectories following trauma exposure. My work has historically focused on community-wide trauma (e.g., natural disasters, terrorism), but I also study other forms of stress (e.g., peer victimization, transitions). I am particularly interested in assessment and diagnostic issues in children, and my recent research has focused on improving the diagnostic criteria for PTSD to be more developmentally-sensitive to clinical presentations in trauma-exposed children.

Department of Psychology (Vermillion)

Email: Breanne.danzi@usd.edu


Melissa Dittberner, Ph.D.

Addiction is an epidemic. We know that personalized care is best yet the US continues to lag in individualized care for those struggling with addiction issues. In an attempt to advocate for people who need help amplifying their voice my research effort surround addiction, education and advocacy. More specifically those interests are pedagogy, stigma reduction, harm reduction, tattoos, sex trafficking, college substance use and SBIRT.

Department of Counseling & Addiction Studies

Email: Melissa.Dittberner@usd.edu


Yohann Fernandes, Ph.D.

Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to a host of negative outcomes collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Individuals with FASD have social, learning and memory deficits. In the US FASD has a prevalence rate ranging between 1.5 and 5% which suggest prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading cause of birth defects. The mechanisms responsible for ethanol induced behavioral and cognitive defects remain unknown. We use zebrafish to characterize the effect gene-ethanol interactions have on the developing brain and behavior. Our current focus is on characterizing the role the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway and the dopamine system play in modulating ethanol-induced defects of social behavior, learning and memory. 

Department of Biology

Email: Yohaan.Fernandes@usd.edu


Victor Huber, Ph.D.

The Huber lab studies host immune responses against influenza virus infection, including those that can be targeted to improve therapeutic intervention and vaccination efforts. In addition to lung epithelial cell damage, both influenza A and influenza B viruses have demonstrated the ability to present neurological complications that are associated with neuroinflammation. As a step toward understanding how to limit these neurological complications, we plan to characterize host responses against a neurotropic strain of influenza A virus at the level of the neurons, resident macrophages (microglia), and the whole animal. Our initial evaluation of these host:pathogen interactions will occur at the cellular and molecular level as we define the impact of virus infection on host responses that lead to neuroinflammation. As part of this evaluation, we are also interested in the role that nicotine may play in modulating macrophage responses that are associated with inflammation both in the lung and in the brain.


Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences (Vermillion)
Email: victor.huber@usd.edu


John Korkow, Ph.D., LAC

The Reasoning Behind LGBTQ Methamphetamine Use

Research interests include: methamphetamine use disorder, opioid use disorder, impulse control disorders, diverse issues in substance use disorders, substance use disorders in college populations.

Addiction Studies, Health Affairs (Vermillion)
Email: John.Korkow@usd.edu

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Sara Lowmaster, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology (Vermillion)
Email: Sara.Lowmaster@usd.edu


William Mayhan, Ph.D.

Neurovascular-mediated effects of alcohol on behavior

In utero exposure to alcohol remains a leading cause of cognitive, memory and behavioral abnormalities that persist into adulthood. The link between in utero exposure to alcohol and cognitive/memory/behavior dysfunction may relate to the effects of alcohol on the coupling of cerebral blood flow to metabolic demand (neurovascular coupling), which is governed by reactivity of cerebral resistance arterioles. The goal of our studies is to define the consequences of in utero exposure to alcohol on reactivity of cerebral arterioles and the susceptibility of the brain to ischemia-induced brain damage, and to then relate these findings to cognitive/memory/behavior dysfunction produced by in utero exposure to alcohol.

Basic Biomedical Sciences
Email: william.mayhan@usd.edu


Role of the Frontal Cortex in Methamphetamine-Seeking

Methamphetamine addiction is a serious world wide health problem for which no drug therapies are currently available. Understanding the changes in the brain that underlie addiction and relapse is an important step towards developing successful drug interventions. The current project will investigate the changes in the brain associated with methamphetamine-seeking. Specifically, we will investigate the role of the neurotransmitters serotonin and glutamate in the frontal cortex during drug-seeking behaviors. Understanding the role of these neurotransmitters in the frontal cortex during drug-seeking may allow for the development of targeted interventions for methamphetamine addiction.

Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences (Vermillion)
Email: Lisa.Mcfadden@usd.edu


Luye Qin, Ph.D.

We are interested in neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder and child epilepsy. Human studies have shown higher prevalence of epilepsy or history of seizures in individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), which indicate prenatal alcohol exposure increases the susceptibility for seizures.Epilepsy happens in 1-2% of general population with 30-40% genetic predisposition.We will determine the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on genetic factors-predisposed seizures by using genetic knock-in or knock-out mouse models.  

Basic Biomedical Sciences
Email: Luye.Qin@usd.edu


Pat Ronan, Ph.D.

Neural Mechanisms and Treatment of Stress-Induced Psychiatric Disorders

We are interested in the neurobiology and treatment of a wide range of psychiatric disorders. We have a particular interest in PTSD and addiction including alcohol use disorder (AUD). Our work has focused on understanding fundamental mechanisms underlying these disorders to identify therapeutic targets and test treatment strategies, including both conventional pharmaceutical based approaches as well as novel approaches such as optogenetics and viral vectors. One current research focus involves the interrogation of neuroimmune interactions and neuroinflammation in rodent AUD models. Techniques involve immunohistochemistry, ELISA, confocal microscopy, stereology, HPLC, qRT-PCR, stereotaxic surgeryand animal behavior models.

Sioux Falls VA Healthcare System
Email: patrick.ronan@usd.edu

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KC Santosh, Ph.D.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning in Healthcare: Data Analysis to Decision Making and Data Visualization

In medical/health science, handling multitude of data is not trivial since their importance can be varied from one data type to another. For multitude of data in health science, based on the experts’ annotations, one needs to able to use automated AI tools that help make respective decisions. In KC’s PAMI (Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence) research lab, you will be able to learn how can we analyze data (big data of various types, such as images, texts, sensor-based signals, and numeric data), make decisions, and visualize at the output for better understanding. Beside image processing, signal processing and pattern recognition techniques, you will be able to learn data mining, machine learning fundamentals as well as deep learning (tools) with your own data (application).

Division of Computer Sciences (Vermillion)
Email: Santosh.kc@usd.edu

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Samuel Sathyanesan, Ph.D.

Molecular Neuropsychiatry Laboratory

The Sathyanesan Laboratory focuses on understanding the role played by multifuctional trophic factors in the central nervous system. These molecules act on multiple cell types in the brain. Research focuses on four areas: gene expression, cell signaling, structural biology and behavior.

Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences
Email: Samuel.Sathyanesan@usd.edu

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Jewel Shepherd, Ph.D.

ED Utilization for Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction

The Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) is the largest all-payer emergency department (ED) database in the U.S. The dataset includes patient-level and hospital-level characteristics, principal and secondary payers for the ED services rendered, presence of chronic or non-chronic diseases, principal diagnosis and up to 30 secondary diagnoses all reported as ICD codes. This project will utilize the most current NEDS dataset to explore the factors associated with patient ED encounters specific to ICD codes related to substance use, abuse, addiction, relapse, and adverse reactions. The data will be used to lend to a discussion on the economic impacts associated with substance abuse.

The student will have an opportunity to work through all of the stages of a research project that utilizes secondary data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Data Use Agreement and Online Training; the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI); USD’s IRB approval process; formulation of research questions; descriptive and predictive data analysis; literature synthesis; and manuscript submission for consideration.

Beacom School of Business, Health Services Administration (Vermillion)
Email: Jewel.Shepherd@usd.edu


Raluca Simons, Ph.D.

Comorbid Psychopathologies and Substance Use Disorders

Our primary focus has been the study of traumatic stress and substance use. Specifically, our lab examines research questions regarding the etiology and maintenance of substance use and problems in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research involving undergraduate students would include conducting a series of NIH-funded or DoD-funded research projects using assessment tools to understand the underlying bases of comorbid psychopathology and substance use.

Department of Psychology (Vermillion)
Email: raluca.gaher@usd.edu

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Susan Strobel, DNP

Department of Public Health (Vermillion)
Email: susan.strobel@usd.edu


Gabrielle Strouse, Ph.D. 

Supporting Young Children’s Educational Experiences with Media and Technology

Parents with addictions are less able to read and respond to their children’s cues, less likely to display warmth toward children, and tend to demand more self-reliant behavior of their children (Whipple, Fitzgerald, & Zucker, 1995). These interactions, in turn, may produce children who display difficulty communicating their feelings, display less proximity to parents during directed play, and display less ability to maintain physical and psychological closeness to their parent (Jones & Houts, 1992; Whipple et al., 1995). According to the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the target ages for intervention in these children are ages 3-5.

The planned research will use video chat to promote positive interactions and closeness between children under 5 and remote family members. Students will aid in developing an intervention that may be particularly effective for people suffering from substance use disorders as well as other populations.

Human Development and Educational Psychology (Vermillion)
Email: Gabrielle.Strouse@usd.edu


Cliff Summers, Ph.D.

The Role of Stress, Anxiety and Depression on Decision-Making

The Laboratory of Molecular Neuropsychoecoendochemistry is currently focused stress-related neurocircuitries that modulate anxiety and depression. These circuits and behavioral states influence the process of decision making. This confluence of neural and behavioral pathways is critical for healthy adaptive responsiveness.

Department of Biology (Vermillion)
Email: Cliff@usd.edu

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Hongmin Wang, Ph.D.

The Effect of Addiction on Developing Alzheimer's Disease

My laboratory is interested in studying why neurodegeneration occurs in some pathological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, and how we can protect neurons from death or dysfunctions under these conditions. One research direction related to the SPURA program is to investigate the effect of addiction on developing Alzheimer’s disease by using both neuronal cultures and animal models.

Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences (Vermillion)
Email: Hongmin.Wang@usd.edu

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Hyung Suk Yang

Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment in reducing drug seeking in preclinical models. However, in clinical populations compliance with exercise treatment programs is sometimes problematic. In some cases impairments in mobility may hider exercise treatment. My research interests include investigating factors that alter or impede various aspects of gait such as walking, running and landing, especially as related to clinical applications and health disparities. Research projects will likely involve biomechanical tools such as motion capture, electromyography, and force measurement. My primary research efforts are currently focused on the effects of arm swing on walking.

Division of Kinesiology and Sport Management (Vermillion)
Email: hs.yang@usd.edu


JongSung Yoon, Ph.D.

One of my research topics is the development of training activities and/or technology-based interventions that can help older adults remain cognitively healthy and independent.  I have also investigated older adults' attitude towards and uptake of new technology and how it is related to other cognitive factors. Recently I conducted several studies on the relationships between depressive symptoms and memory in older adults.  I am planning to expand my research into the influence of PTSD on cognitive aging and the development of intervention to help older adults with PTSD. 

Department of Psychology (Vermillion)
Email: jongsung.yoon@usd.edu