Dr. Christina Reppucci won 2 awards for her excellence as a research supervisor

May 6, 2021 - Psychology Department

Dr. Christina Reppucci is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Neurobiology of Social Behavior Lab, directed by Dr. Alexa Veenema. Dr. Reppucci won the 2021 Undergraduate Research Supervisor of the Year Award in April, and this week she won the 2021 Postdoctoral Excelllence in Mentoring and/or Teaching Award from the MSU Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Dr. Reppucci came to MSU in 2017 when Dr. Alexa Veenema relocated her lab from Boston College to Michigan State University. Dr. Reppucci spoke with us about her experiences conducting research and supervising undergraduates in the lab.
What are your main research interests?
​"Broadly, I am interested in understanding the neural systems underlying motivated behaviors, and assessing whether those systems are differentially recruited in males and females. I use rodent models to ask questions about the roles of specific neurochemicals and specific neural pathways in the expression of behaviors like social play, social interaction-seeking, and food-seeking."
Tell us about working in the Neurobiology of Social Behavior Lab.
"I love that there is no typical work day. Some days I'm with my rodent subjects -- doing surgeries or studying their behavior.  Some days I'm in the lab working with brain tissue -- slicing it, staining it, looking at it under a microscope. Some days I'm on the computer -- scoring videos of rodent behavior, analyzing images of stained brain tissue, writing papers about my research, or writing grant proposals to fund new research. Moreover, intertwined among all those things are all the incredible people I get to do this work with, including my own supervisor and mentor Dr. Alexa Veenema (2019 receipient of the Undergradute Research Mentor of the Year award) and the students that I directly supervise and mentor. Overall, the Neurobiology of Social Behavior Lab has been an amazing place to do my postdoc."
What do you enjoy most about working with undergraduates in the lab?
"​Sharing in their excitement-- whether it's when they are fascinated by a paper we read for journal club, when they are mastering a new technique for the first time, or when they are presenting results from their project at a lab meeting, symposium, or conference.  These moments remind me of when I first fell in love with neuroscience and research, and it's incredibly fulfilling to pay that forward by providing research and presentation opporunities to undergrudate students who join the lab."
What advice do you have for individuals who supervise and mentor students?
"​There is no one-size-fits-all plan for mentoring, and open communication between you and your students is crucial.  I try to tailor my metoring to each indivdivual's needs, goals, and desires, but when they first join the lab they may not even know those things themselves. To help guide us, I expose students to a wide variety of techniques, hold mini journal clubs to discuss relevant research and methods papers, and am supportive if they want presentation opporutnities.  If particular things come up that excite them, then we can focus their future work and readings around that." 
What are your plans for the future?
"​I hope to become a professor at an undergradudate-focused institution where I can continue to work with and support the next generation of scholars and scientists."