Lab Members


Dr. Jill B Becker 

The goal of my research is to understand the relations between behavior and neuronal activity associated with the ascending dopamine projections to the striatum and nucleus accumbens. Research on this topic has evolved into two major research themes. One theme investigates the role of ovarian hormone modulation of the striatum and accumbens in sexual behavior and motivation to engage in sexual behavior in the female rat. A second theme investigates gender differences in drug abuse. Finally, we are interested in the mechanisms mediating the rapid effects of estradiol in the brain which are fundamental in the sex differences in motivated behaviors.

Research Support: Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship (2020), Rackham Precandidate Research Grant (2018), National Institute on Drug Abuse Diversity Supplement Fellowship (2016)


Noah Bass

Noah grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, and completed her undergraduate, masters, and PhD at the University of Guelph. During graduate school, she studied the hormonal regulation of dopamine mediated social learning in the dorsal hippocampus in Dr. Elena Choleris’ lab. She recently joined the Becker Lab as a post-doc where she is studying the role of social housing on dopamine release and drug administration in the nucleus accumbens using fiber photometry. Her interests also include understanding how sex hormones influence dopamine circuitry. When she is not in the lab, Noah enjoys crocheting, camping, running, sitting by the lake, and making soup.


Christopher Turner

Chris grew up in Spring Valley, NY, and graduated from UPenn with a B.A. in the Biological Basis of Behavior. After graduating, he spent 3 years as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Heath Schmidt at UPenn, where he studied neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying drug-taking and seeking behaviors. He joined the Biopsychology graduate program and the Becker Lab in the fall of 2018. His research interests include evaluating sex differences in the neural systems mediating motivated behavior and drug abuse. His current project is about characterizing how G-Protein Coupled Receptor-1 (GPER1) activity differentially modulates dopamine signaling in male and female rats' dorsal-lateral striatum (DLS). When Chris isn't in the lab, he enjoys watching movies and video games.

Ivette Gonzalez

Ivette grew up in Torrance, California, and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology & a B.A. in Spanish from San Diego State University. At SDSU, Ivette worked in Dr. Jennifer Thomas’ lab looking at prenatal exposure to THC & alcohol & its effect on motor coordination. She joined the Biopsychology graduate program & the Becker Lab in Fall 2019. Her research interests include understanding the relationship between social behavior and drug-taking behavior. Her current project looks at how different housing conditions can affect dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens and methamphetamine self-administration. When she’s not in the lab, Ivette enjoys baking & exploring nature. 

Noah Leonardo

Noah grew up in South Lyon, Michigan. She graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry with a minor in philosophy from the University of Michigan–Dearborn. During undergrad, she worked in Dr. Sheila Smith's lab using cyclic voltammetry to study copper co-factor binding to free floating proteins. Noah is a first year graduate student and is interested in the topography of the dorsolateral striatum, using multielectrode arrays with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, and patch-matrix subregions. When she's not in the lab, Noah enjoys PC gaming and wildlife macro-photography.

Lab Technicians

Kristin Lee 

Kristin came to Ann Arbor from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she graduated with a Biology degree from Calvin University in 2018. During her time at Calvin, Kristin participated in grassland bird conservation and habitat restoration, which introduced her to research and reinforced her love of working with animals. She has enjoyed observing the role animals play not only in the natural world, but also in education as she worked at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, and now in research here in the Becker Lab. Outside of the lab, Kristin likes summer backpacking, cross-stitching, and snuggles with her cat.

Hibah Mirza Chughtai

Hibah came to Ann Arbor from New Delhi, India, and graduated in 2022 with degrees in Physics and Psychology from the University of Michigan. During her time at Michigan, she was involved in physics laboratories and helped develop experiments in the Department of Physics. That, combined with her involvement in psychopathology courses and neuropsychology projects led her to working at the Becker Lab. When not at work, she enjoys writing, spending time with her tabby cat and fixing old computers.

Aarani Varatharajan

Aarani Varatharajan is from West Bloomfield, Michigan and graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience in December 2023. She is on the pre-med track and will be applying to medical school in May 2024. In her free time, she likes to try new foods in Ann Arbor, listen to music, or spend time with friends and family.

Current Undergraduate Students