Jillian Hufgard.Hometown: Portage, Indiana
Undergraduate Institution: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Indiana

During my undergraduate career at a small engineering school I was blessed to be part of a program with very attentive professors keen on developing the research skills and ideas of their students. I first became interested in the Molecular and Developmental Biology program through UC because of the broad range of laboratories and specialties of research, but I knew it would be home when I realized that despite the large university and hospital atmosphere there was still a the small school attentive professor attitude.

I currently work in the lab of Charles Vorhees who specializes in teratology and behavioral neuroscience. Our lab works on a large variety of projects such as prenatal methamphetamine, stress, antidepressant, PCB, and manganese exposures. We also look at combinations of these prenatal perturbations. A few of the projects I am intimately involved in utilize transgenic animals to model human disorders. We currently have a rat model of ADHD and a mouse model that is resistant to depression. The most interesting part about working in a behavioral lab is knowing that the work we are doing is incredibly translational to human disorders. Building connections and translational science is something that the MDB program excels at, which can be witnessed when looking that the careers of previous students. We are blessed to have many opportunities due to the intimate UC and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital collaborations, but it really is the passion of each individual mentor that keeps us so competitive.

Outside of the program and lab work, Cincinnati is a big city with a small-town feel and has a truly incredible parks and recreation system. With the Ohio River and the rolling hills, there are numerous spots around that city with incredible views. Even if Cincinnati was not a good looking city, the cornucopia of restaurants will win anyone over. It truly is a “foodie’s” city.