Cynthia Gill

Dean of Natural Science, Cognitive Science and Critical Social Inquiry and Associate Professor of Physiology
Cynthia Gill
Contact Cynthia

Mail Code NS
Cynthia Gill
Cole Science Center 305
413.559.5358

Cynthia Gill, dean of Natural Science, Cognitive Science, and Critical Social Inquiry and associate professor of physiology, received her B.S. in biology from the University of North Carolina and her Ph.D. in neuroendocrinology from the University of Virginia.

Professor Gill did postdoctoral research at the University of Texas examining the development of brain steroid receptor regulation in parthenogenetic and gender-reversed lizards. She also studies neural regulation and connectivity in response to hormonally-mediated environmental cues. Her interests span the areas of human and comparative physiology, neuroscience, endocrinology, herpetology, conservation biology, and behavioral biology. She's also a triathlete and adventure racer with an interest in exercise physiology.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

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  • The social, nutritional and sensory environment of an organism can dramatically affect the expression of specific hormones. Those hormones, in turn, can determine the development, degree of plasticity and output of the nervous system. Thus, the behavior an organism can have is sometimes determined by the endocrine constraints on the nervous system. This course examines how the endocrine system interacts with the nervous system to influence behavior in a range of organisms. We'll start with the foundations of nervous and endocrine system physiology and anatomy with consideration of common methods and techniques in neuroendocrine and behavioral research. Then we will focus on some specific behaviors such as parental behavior, reproductive behavior, feeding, affiliation, aggression, learning, and memory. In addition, we'll consider the range of normal to "abnormal" behaviors and the neuroendocrine factors that could influence these behaviors. Keywords: neuroscience, behavior, animal, endocrinology, biology

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  • Students in this course will learn about the biological function of selected human organs and systems through the study of actual medical cases. Not all human systems will be covered, but students will gain a good understanding of how diseases affect the body and how they are diagnosed. Working in small teams, students will develop diagnoses for medical cases through reviewing descriptions of patient histories, physical exams, and laboratory findings. A human biology text, medical texts on reserve, and Internet resources will help students track down information they need to solve these medical mysteries. Students will also learn to find and read scientific research articles on topics of their choosing and will learn to write analytical reviews of these articles. These reviews will form the basis of final papers in which students choose particular diseases or treatments to investigate in detail and present their findings to the class. Keywords: biology, health, disease, physiology, medicine

  • Animal Physiology: This course will cover physiology of organ systems in a variety of animal phyla, including vertebrates and invertebrates. Topics can include nutrition, temperature regulation and neural, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, digestive and endocrine function. One focus will be on cellular and molecular mechanisms common across systems and phyla. We will spend some time outdoors and at the Hampshire College Farm. Students will engage in class problems, discussion, and reading of text and primary science literature. Key words: biology, physiology, animal, health

  • Stress is a daily part of our lives that has become an intense subject of interest among scientists and the medical community. The body's responses to stress are linked to multiple health problems, but stress can also be overused as an explanation. In this course, we will examine the scientific evidence for the links between stress and human health issues such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. This will include readings of primary scientific research papers and coverage of basic physiological mechanisms in humans and other animals. Students will learn techniques to measure stress and stress hormones. (Keywords: Biology, Neuroscience, Pscyhology, Public Health)

  • Examine the function of the nervous system with particular focus on mechanisms at work in the brain. The course will link current advances in cell, molecular and developmental physiology research in the context of neuronal functional mechanisms. Topics may include neurotransmitter function and regulation, brain area function, integrative intracellular signaling pathways, neuroendocrine control. Advanced topics may include the correlation of ion channel properties and synaptic transmission with physiological functions such as learning and memory, circuits involved in behavior, and the organizational principles for the development of functional neural networks at synaptic and cellular levels. Along with regular discussion participation and problem solving, students will prepare papers and lead discussions on their own chosen topics. This course is particularly appropriate for students interested in behavioral mechanisms, neurophysiology, psychology, and neuroendocrinology. Keywords: animal, biology, neuroscience, pyschology