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Research Projects

Salt, behavior, and neuroinflammation

Salt is one of the most prevalent, non-caloric dietary components.  Consuming excess salt is generally advised against for cardiovascular health purposes.  But how excess salt affects the brain, and all the behaviors it regulates, is vastly underexplored.  We are investigating how excess salt consumption affects behavior across the sexes, and exploring the contributions of neuroinflammation to these behavioral shifts.  In particular, we are interested in how responses to stressors are altered by high salt intake, and how consuming foods high in salt can feed forward to increase further unhealthy diet consumption. 

Plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT)

PMAT (Slc29a4) preferentially transports dopamine and serotonin over other monoamines (e.g., norepinephrine) across the cell membrane.  Drugs that act as antidepressants block dopamine and serotonin transport by inhibiting other transporter proteins, such as the dopamine transporter, but these drugs do not inhibit transport by PMAT.  We hypothesize that this persistent transport of dopamine and serotonin by PMAT, in the presence of drugs intended to act as antidepressants, might help explain why some people don't experience a therapeutic effect.  We're investigating this possibility using mice genetically engineered to have reduced PMAT function. 

STEM Faculty Service Burden (In)Equities Across Intersectional Identities

In collaboration with 3 other Kent State researchers - Drs. Clarissa Thompson, Susan Fisk, and Mary Himmelstein - Dr. Gilman is studying how intersectional gender and racial/ethnic identities influence service burdens of STEM faculty.  Our research is funded by the National Science Foundation.  In addition to creating transparency regarding service burdens across intersectional identities while preserving anonymity of faculty, we are developing a support network for women faculty in STEM fields at Kent State.   Our work is based on previous research demonstrating that effective and accessible communication of service disparities across gender identities generates a powerful impetus for equitable change.  By integrating intersectional identities into our research, we will first focus on ensuring equitable service contributions at our university, then share our approaches and data with others to facilitate widespread adoption of this equity-promoting transparency across institutions, within and outside of academia.

Outside the Lab

Kent State University is located in northeast Ohio, just south of Cleveland and east of Akron, and home to the recently established Brain Health Research Institute.  The Gilman lab is housed in the Department of Psychological Sciences, a fantastically supportive group of highly collaborative researchers.  Every year, Kent State hosts a regional Annual Neuroscience Symposium

Northeast Ohio is a beautiful area of the country, offering a wealth of culture and outdoor activities for a very low cost of living.  In fact, the Cleveland metropolitan area was found by researchers at the University of Southern California to be the third most affordable metropolitan area for renters in the United States.  Only thirty minutes from Kent is the gorgeous (and free!) Cuyahoga Valley National Park, full of a variety of trails open during all four seasons.

Nearby Cleveland is the home of many professional sports teams, including the Browns, Cavaliers, and Guardians.  Cleveland is the location of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the expanding Pro Football Hall of Fame is just on the other side of Kent in Canton.  Blossom Music Center is an outdoor concert venue located only 20 minutes away in Cuyahoga Falls.  In 2023, a report named the Cleveland metro area as the most affordable housing market in the US.  Northeast Ohio is easily accessible by air at both the Cleveland Hopkins (CLE) and Akron-Canton (CAK) airports.  Kent is within a day's driving distance of 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, as well as several popular destinations, including Chicago, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Washington, D.C.

For more information about all Northeast Ohio has to offer, see Kent State's Beyond Kent website.

Outside the Lab
Photos of Campus & Northeast Ohio
(Copyright - Dr. Gilman)
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