Cynthia Gill, 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.
Explore the function of the endocrine system and its role in behavior, specifically as examined in animal model systems. 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 of an organism is set in a background of endocrine influences. This course examines the endocrine system and how it 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, and aggression. Students will analyze the primary scientific literature, write short papers and develop an independent paper that they present to the class. Experimental projects will be part of this course. 300-level students will act as team leaders for the course projects.
With humans as our primary model system, we will cover cellular and general tissue physiology and the endocrine, nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, and renal organ systems. Primary emphasis is on functional processes in these systems and on cellular and molecular mechanisms common across systems. Students will engage in class problems, lectures, and reading of secondary science literature. Basic knowledge of and comfort with biology, chemistry, and math is necessary.
The function of the brain can hardly be examined without considering the influence of the endocrine system. 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 the endocrine system and how it interacts with the nervous system to influence behavior in a range of organisms, including humans. 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.
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, stress hormones and glucose regulation. In addition, as community service outreach, students will develop projects to explore the effectiveness of stress relief options in the college community.
Rhythmic activity is observed in many biological systems, such as with pacemaker neurons, hormone secreting systems, sleep-wake circuits, and cardiac muscle contractions. In this course, we will explore the biological mechanisms and mathematical representations of biological rhythms. Mathematical topics may include periodic functions, factor analysis, differential equations, and Fourier transforms. We will consider examples of periodicity from different time scales, including those that affect behavioral activity. Students will work as a class on questions drawn from primary research literature and analyze equations and patterns, with room for individual projects at the end of the course. Students should have had Calculus in Context (or equivalent)and at least one college-level biology course, such as physiology, prior to this course. Prerequisites: Calc I (or equivalent) and one college-level biology course.
This course will cover physiology of organ systems within animal phyla with special emphasis on physiological adaptations of organisms to their environment. Topics will include osmoregulation, 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'll also examine unique adaptations to extreme environments. Knowledge of basic biology and chemistry is not required but is recommended. Students will engage in class problems, lectures, and reading of text and primary scientific literature.
Associate Professor of Physiology
Mail Code NS
Cole Science Center 305
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002