BY CATHERINE HINES – STAFF WRITER
The Cento continues its “Meet the new faculty member” series this week with Dr. Karen Gill, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience.
Dr. Gill most recently taught as a graduate student at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. She is originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a major in Psychology and a double minor in Biology and Sociology. From there, Dr. Gill took two years off and was involved in sales.
She then attended the University of Kentucky where she received a PhD in Experimental Psychology, specializing in Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology.
“I fell in love with teaching and I fell in love with Kentucky. When this job came up it was a no brainer for me,” Dr. Gill said. “There was no better fir for me than Centre College.”
Even though Dr. Gill began her undergraduate studies as a computer science major, she fell in love with Psychology after taking an introductory level course. She continued to become fascinated with the brain and psychological mechanisms.
“I started taking a lot of biology classes which helped me gain a much deeper understanding of the information I was learning in my psychology classes,” Dr. Gill said. “When it came time to apply to graduate programs, behavioral neuroscience was the obvious choice for me since this is where psychology and biology intersect.”
Dr. Gill’s research, specifically, is related to sex differences in drug-induced behaviors.
“I am especially interested in understanding how sex hormones and various neurotransmitters interact in the brain and the role that this interaction may play in drug addiction,” Dr. Gill said.
Dr. Gill recently had an article accepted in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, which includes an experiment that she completed for her dissertation that examined cocaine reward for female Japanese quail. She is currently working on a project exploring sex differences in nicotine reward that will hopefully be ready for publication early next year. Dr. Gill is including Centre students in this project.
When she isn’t studying quail, Dr. Gill enjoys photography, running, cross-stitching, taking naps with her cat, Riley, and playing with her four-year-old daughter, Josie.
Given that Dr. Gill’s research includes studying Japanese quail and Centre College has a budding Japanese quail population, she fit in nicely on campus. Besides to the quail, she has enjoyed working with colleagues “who ‘get it’ and appreciate my work.”
There are several additional reasons that Dr. Gill and Centre fit well together: teaching, students, professors and research. Her passion for teaching and helping students better themselves and prepare for their futures can be seen in her creatively conducted classes and interactions with students. This close-knit community of Centre has made an impression.
“It is never uncommon to see professors from very different disciplines enjoying lunch together in Cowan, and I have always been welcomed to join in—even if they have not met me yet. There is an air of mutual respect and cooperation among the faculty that I think is truly unique to Centre,” Gill said. “The students here are so rewarding to teach. They are always engaged and truly invested in their education. The questions they ask in class demonstrate that they are deeply thinking about the material. In fact, it is not uncommon for me not to know the answer—which has led to some very fun and interesting discussions where we are all learning together.
“I have felt so welcomed by the faculty, students, and staff and I already feel included in the community here,” she concluded. “I look forward to coming to work each and every day.”