Christina Ragan - Psychology Professor at Colgate University

Colgate Directory

Chris Ragan

Christina Ragan

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology
Psychology, Olin Hall
p 315-228-7343
Please visit my other professional site here.

B.S. Molecular Biology, Minor Chemistry Towson University 2004
Ph.D. Neuroscience The Pennsylvania State University 2011
Postdoctoral Training: Michigan State University 2011-2015

Teaching interests/experience:
Brain and Behavior/Biopsychology
Developmental Psychobiology
Stress and Health
CORE Scientific Perspectives: Science, News Media, and You

Research interests:
In 2011, I earned my PhD in Neuroscience from the Pennsylvania State University under the guidance of Dr. Sonia Cavigelli.  At Penn State, I found that differences in maternal care within a litter show the opposite effects that others have shown between litters.  Pups that received more licks than their siblings were less exploratory as adults compared to their low-licked littermates.  In addition, rats that were less exploratory than their siblings at a post-weaning age also had decreased adult serotonin transporter expression in the brainstem compared to their more exploratory siblings.  

Stemming off of my graduate work, I expanded these studies as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Joseph Lonstein's laboratory.  

One project from the Lonstein lab examined the stability of anxiety-related behavior across reproductive stages within individual females.   For this project, I investigating the roles of dopamine beta hydroxylase (DBH) in anxious and non-anxious postpartum females with and without recent offspring contact.  You can find the outcome of this project in our paper published in Neuroscience in 2014.

PictureInternational Society for Developmental Psychobiology Washington, D.C. November 2014

My most recent project was selected to be highlighted in a special issue of Hormones and Behavior on the Parental Brain.  In this study, we examined variability in maternal care among siblings and how that related to sibling differences in emotional and maternal behaviors, and serotonin-related mechanisms in the brain later in life.

My primary research interests lie in determining early-life predictors of adult sibling differences in anxiety-related behavior and physiology.  Specifically, I am curious about 1: how variability in maternal care during the early postnatal period plays a role in sibling differences in anxiety found later in life with a particular focus on serotonergic and noradrenergic systems; and 2:  the molecular mechanisms that regulate maternal behavior and postpartum anxiety.

I regularly attend and present at 3 conferences annually:  Society for NeuroscienceInternational Society for Developmental Psychobiology, and Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.  I also attend the tri-annual Parental Brain conference.  In June 2016, I will be speaking in a symposium entitled, "Early life stress and serotonin: effects on social and emotional health" at the International Society for Behavioral Neuroscience in Budapest, Hungary.

Ragan C.M., Gyekis J., Dingman M., Vandenbergh D.J., Cavigelli, S.A.  Within-litter variance in maternal behavior predicts adult sibling variance in anxiety-related behaviors in inbred mice.  (Under Revision).

Bressler AJ, Kovacsics C.E., Ragan C.M., Jones B.C, Vasudevan N, Cavigelli S.A., Andrews A.M. Segregating Contextual Versus Social Neophobia in Two Strains of BXD Recombinant Inbred Mice.  Genes, Brain and Behavior (Under Review).

Ragan C.M., Gyekis J., Dingman M., Vandenbergh D.J., Cavigelli S.A. Early life experiences and behavior are related to adult GR mRNA expression in a sex specific manner. (In preparation). 

Ragan C.M., Harding K. M, Lonstein J.S.  Associations among within-litter differences in early mothering received and later emotional behaviors, mothering, and cortical tryptophan hydroxylase-2 expression in female laboratory rats.  Hormones and Behavior  special issue on Parental Behavior (In Press).
Ragan C.M. & Lonstein J.S. Postpartum anxiety is predicted by pre-mating anxiety and related to recent offspring contact and brain monoamines. Neuroscience. 2014. 3(256): 433-444.

Ragan C.M., Loken E.L., Stifter, C.A., Cavigelli S.A. Within-litter variance in early rat pup-mother interactions and adult offspring responses to physical and social novelty.  Developmental Psychobiology. 2011 54(2): 199-206. 
Cavigelli S.A., Ragan C.M., Barrett C.E. and Michael K.C.  Within-litter variance in rat maternal behavior.  Behavioural Processes 2010.  84(3):  696-704.
Cavigelli S.A., Ragan C.M., Michael K.C., Kovacsics C.E., Bruscke A.P.  Stable temperament and glucocorticoid production both predict male rat life span.  Physiology and Behavior. 2009. 98 (1-2): 205-214.

Boggiano M. M., Cavigelli S. A., Dorsey J. R., Thomas J. M., Pritchett C. E., Ragan C.M., Chandler-Laney P.C.  Effect of a cage divider permitting social stimuli on stress and food intake in rats.  Physiology and Behavior.  2008. 95(1-2): 222–228.
Sabunciyan S., Yolken R., Ragan C.M., Potash J., Nimgaonkar V.L., Dickerson F., Llenos I.C., and Weis S. Polymorphisms In The Homeobox Gene OTX2 May Be a Risk Factor for Bipolar Disorder. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics. 2007.  144B (8): 1083-1086.

Book Chapter

Cavigelli S.A., Michael K.C., Ragan C.M. Behavioral, physiological, and health biases in laboratory rodents: a basis for understanding mechanistic links between human personality and health.  In: Animal Personalities: Behavior, Physiology and Evolution (Ed. by C. Carere and D. Maestripieri), Chicago: University of Chicago Press.