My interests stem from growing up in a low socioeconomic city east of Houston where the prevalence of drug use was high. Witnessing the use of drugs like alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and nicotine drove my interests onto, not only what turns people onto drugs, but what keeps them there. The Wellman lab was attractive to me because it investigated the effects of pre and post-natal heavy metal (ex. lead) exposure on susceptibility to psychostimulants in rats. I come from an area where this exposure occurs on the human level, so I was intrigued and curious to discover the answers relating back to my adolescent surroundings.
Also of interest is the modification of the desired seeking for high fat/rewarding foods that this reward circuit also plays a part in. Psychostimulants are also connected to these diets as they are tied to suppression and modification of appetite and metabolism. Bringing it together, by manipulating ghrelin we may not only tackle drug addiction, but also fight obesity. Both of which are tied to increased yearly morbidity rates in the US and should be a current focus for the betterment of humanity as a whole.