Department of Psychology

Laboratory of Alcoholism and Addictions Neuroscience (LAAN)

Lab Personnel





Brendan Walker, Ph.D.

Dr. Walker received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the Psychology Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004. During his time at UCSB, he was mentored by Dr. Aaron Ettenberg, funded by a predoctoral NRSA from NIDA and conducted research focusing on opiate / benzodiazepine interactions in animal models of reward and reinforcement and the neurobiology of ethanol reward. Upon graduation, he initiated postdoctoral studies with Dr. George Koob at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the Department of Neuropharm-acology (today known as the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders). While at TSRI he was also funded by a postdoctoral NRSA from NIAAA that focused on alterations in opioid peptide systems during the transition to dependence. Following his postdoctoral studies, he moved into a Staff Scientist position at TSRI in the Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience Department where he continued to work on topics related to alcohol dependence and adolescent alcohol exposure. In 2008, Dr. Walker came to WSU and started the LAAN and while Pullman, WA is a tad different than LaJolla, CA, the exciting nature of the research is the same and what keeps life stimulating!. When he gets a few moments of free time, Dr. Walker tries to take advantage of the amazing outdoor activities that are local to WSU. Dr. Walker states, "We are extremely excited about the research being conducted here at WSU and are very fortunate to have an amazing team of researchers working within the LAAN. I am continuely impressed by the work ethic and aptitude of the trainieees (undergrad, grad and postdoc) I work with in the LAAN" 2012 was a big year for Dr. Walker because he was promoted to Associate Professor of Psychology (with Tenure) and received the highest honor bestowed upon early-career scientists by the United States governement, the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President Obama (see PECASE page for more information).


Postdoctoral Research Associate(s)


Sunil Sirohi, Ph.D.

I received my undergraduate degree (B. Pharm.) in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Guru Jambheshwar University, India, and M.S., Ph.D degree in Pharmacology from St. John's University, NY. My graduate research work was largely based on studying various functional effects produced by different efficacy opioid antagonists and role of opioid agonist efficacy and treatment protocol in opioid receptor regulation, opioid analgesic tolerance and dependence. Dr. Walkerís lab has been exciting while we explore the biochemical, behavioral and neuropharm-acological aspects of alcohol and drug dependence.


Graduate Student(s)


Angela Williams, B.S. - Grad Student

I am currently a graduate student at Washington State University.  I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where I earned my Bachelorís of Science degree in Psychology from Arizona State University. While pursuing a doctoral degree in Behavioral Neuroscience at WSU, I have been focusing on the neurobiology of negative affective states produced by chronic alcohol and drug exposure.



Anthony Berger, B.S. - Grad Student

I am currently a graduate student at Washington State University.  I moved from Portland, OR to Phoenix, AZ to attend Arizona State University where I earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Biological Sciences and Psychology.  At ASU, I was a Research Assistant in a neuroscience lab which focused on the mechanisms underlying cocaine addiction.  I worked on projects that involved mediating symptoms of cocaine use through manipulation of the serotonin system and exploring genetic changes induced by cocaine self-administration.  At WSU, I plan to further explore the neurobiology of motivation and addiction.



Jessica Kissler, B.S. - Grad Student

I graduated from WSU Honors College in 2011 with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. As I had already been an undergraduate researcher in the LAAN during my senior, I had the opportunity to apply for (and get) a Research Technician position in the LAAN, which I have held for over a year. I am now starting graduate school at WSU with Dr. Walker as my mentor.


Research Technicians


Rachel Abella, B.S.

After recently graduating from WSU with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology, I will now be joining the LAAN for the the summer of 2012 as a recipient of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. In August 2012, I will officially join the LAAN as a Research Technician. A primary focus of mine is the use of conditional knockout techniques in mice to asses the molecular neurobiology of the behaviors the LAAN is interested in.



Mitch Kissler, B.S.

I graduated from WSU with a B.S. in genetics and cell biology. I am really excited to expand my research experience and plan to make research my career and am trying to gain as much knowledge as I can. 




Chelsea Smith, B.S.

As a recent graduate of WSU with a degree in Neuroscience, I recently had two summer research grants funded by the WSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program and the Department of Psychology. I am currently evaluating microRNA regulation of particular genes the lab is interested in.  Within the next few years I plan on going to medical school.




Current Undergraduate Researchers



Molly McGinnis

I am double majoring in neuroscience and psychology with plans to graduate in the Spring of 2013. Previously, I have studied the effects of methamphetamines on learning and memory. Addiction and behavior are two of my main interests so I am very excited to join the LAAN.



Georgia Schafer

I am currently a Junior at WSU majoring in Neuroscience and am interested in the study of addiction. I plan on applying to medical school, and attending after I graduate from WSU in the winter of 2013.



Cole Ziegler, B.S.

I majored in psychology and was also a student in the Honors College. I have worked on a variety of projects and am currently focusing on the role of matrix metalloproteinases during ethanol withdrawal from a negative reinforcement perspective. After graduation, I plan to take a year off to pursue medical outreach opportunities abroad. I then plan to apply to medical school and am currently looking into MD/PhD programs.



Past LAAN Researchers


Spring 2012

Winter 2011

Spring 2011

Fall 2010

Fall 2009

Spring 2009











































Department of Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164