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Steven Boomhower, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts, has received the 2017 American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award for his research on neurobehavioral consequences of exposure to drugs and environmental contaminants during development.

“The College of Liberal Arts and Department of Psychology are committed to supporting graduate student research. I am delighted that Steven is being recognized for his scholarship,” Dean Joseph Aistrup said.

Boomhower received a master’s degree from Auburn and is now working on obtaining his doctorate degree. He works in the Psyhocpharmacology and Neurotoxicology Lab with Chris Newland, professor of cognitive and behavioral sciences and Boomhower's advisor.

“This award is excellent recognition for a promising student. By supporting his cutting-edge research, the award will help him explore the consequences of exposure to a ubiquitous environmental contaminant,” Newland said.

Boomhower’s dissertation is designed to determine whether exposure to methylmercury, an environmental neurotoxicant, during adolescence impairs behavior in adulthood. He will also examine whether these behavioral effects can be prevented with therapeutic treatments that alter gene expression in the brain.

The Psychopharmacology and Neurotoxicology Laboratory investigates the effects of drugs and environmental contaminants that act on the nervous system. The emphasis is on motor and cognitive measures, including some that mimic executive functions in human neuropsychology: timing, behavioral flexibility and repeated learning tasks. Taking a lifespan developmental approach, the lab investigates prenatal, adolescent and aging stages of development, with a special interest in how early developmental exposures have long-lasting, irreversible effects on behavior during adulthood and aging.

Boomhower will receive $1,000 to offset research costs for his dissertation.

Read more about Boomhower’s research on the ResearchGate website.