Lab Directory

Cassandra Gipson, Ph.D.

(859) 218-0625

Cassie received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2004, and a Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Kentucky in the Psychology Department with Dr. Michael Bardo. Dr. Gipson then continued her postdoctoral training in the lab of Dr. Peter Kalivas in the Neuroscience department at the Medical University of South Carolina from 2010-2015. Cassie then joined the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University in 2015 as an Assistant Professor. She joined the Department of Family and Community Medicine as an Associate Professor in 2020. Cassie accepts PhD students from the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program, as well as MD/PhD students and post-doctoral scholars.


Curriculum Vitae

Erin Maher, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Scholar

Dr. Maher has her B.S. in Biology from Elon University and her MA in Psychology and Ph.D. in Psychology (with a Neuroscience concentration) from the University of Virginia. Dr. Maher’s main research interests are to study how circuits in the brain are wired and how these neural connections change as a result of environmental factors using neuroanatomical and immunohistochemical techniques. She is particularly interested in how drug addiction and cessation affect reward circuitry in the brain.

Shailesh Khatri

Post-Doctoral Scholar

Dr. Khatri received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology under Dr. Marvin Schulte from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Dr. Khatri’s doctoral dissertation examined pharmacology of novel antidepressive drug class, their structure-function activity at the binding site of 5HT3A receptors. In addition, he studied nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) as potential targets for OCD drug candidates using behavioral assays in mouse models of OCD which resulted in a US patent. In his current work he has demonstrated, for the first time, the presence of δ-subunit containing GABAARs in cerebellar Purkinje cells. These signaling pathways overlap with a mechanism by which sleep aids, some antiepileptic drugs, and anesthetics seem to work.

In Dr. Khatri’s second Postdoctoral position in Dr. Gipson-Reichardt’s lab, he will study synaptic/extrasynaptic changes acquired by neurons in Nucleus accumbens (NAc) by nicotine addiction. Dr. Khatri wishes to examine the epigenetic change induced by nicotine that increases the susceptibility of relapse and reward by ‘Patch-Seq’, a combination of whole cell patch clamp with single cell qPCR and RNA-seq.  He is also interested in studying cerebellar projections in the NAc and their contribution in nicotine addiction.

Emma Bondy

Graduate Student

Emma graduated with her B.S. in Neuroscience from Furman University in May of 2020. Emma will be entering the Nutritional Sciences PhD program beginning in Fall 2022. For her Ph.D., Emma is interested in the study of neuroinflammatory signaling pathways in response to behaviors that characterize addiction, specifically the involvement of microglia. She plans to examine the roles of Cx3cr1 (microglial receptor for fractalkine) and adenosine receptors in the regulation of glutamate, and sex differences in these mechanisms.

Percell (Tyrone) Kendrick, Jr.

Graduate Student

Tyrone Kendrick is entering his second year  in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences PhD program, and is funded by the NIDA T32 (PI: Craig Rush). Tyrone is interested in studying sex differences in neuroinflammatory signaling underlying nicotine use.

Alex Pettey

Rotating Graduate Student

Alex Pettey is a 1st year rotating graduate student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program at UK. Alex is interested in studying microglia and cytokines during nicotine seeking behavior, as well as glutamate signaling within the nucleus accumbens core.

Mei Hong

Scientist I

Mei Hong joined the lab in 2021 and is our senior research technician. She conducts neuropeptide analyses to measure hormone expression, chemokine expression, and glutamate transporter expression to further understand the molecular biology of addiction.

Grace Breakfield

Undergraduate Volunteer

Olivia Swanbeck

Chellgren Fellow

Olivia is a 2022 Chellgren Student Fellow in the lab.

Former Undergraduate Volunteers:


Austin Collins





Hollie Clifton





Madison Botkins





Katelyn Lawson





Nikhil Pallem





Satvi Ashwinbhai

Dharani Ramaiah