OR: How did a Kentucky kid one generation removed from dirt poor tobacco farmers make it good in addiction neuroscience? 

(That's the actually tobacco farm where I grew up - the inset is an artists' rendition of me as a young man).

Born in Somerset, Kentucky; Raised in Frankfort, Kentucky

Graduated from Western Hills High School

(that's me on the left in both pictures)

College at the University of Kentucky

I was incredibly fortunate to work in Mike Bardo's lab for three years

The Bardo Lab is where the research bug bit, leading to an obsession with the role of dopamine in motivated behaviors.

Mike and I published seven papers together including my first first-author paper.


Graduate school at Indiana University,

starting in Fall 1989

Learned voltammetry and behavior in George Rebec's lab (that's him on the left.  Mark Wightman was across campus in Chemistry).

PhD defense

October, 1993

What I learned in graduate school

(reduced to four bullet points)

 •  Addiction is a form of neuronal plasticity.

 •  The plasticity relevant to addiction takes place in the

 limbic system.

 •  Glutamate plays a critical role in neuronal and behavioral


 •  I need to study the role of glutamate in addiction and

 Peter Kalivas’ lab is the place to do it.

So I loaded up the truck, and moved to Pullman, Washington.

(October, 1993)


Peter was and is a fantastic mentor.

We had a great working relationship, when he wasn't trying to kill me...

Not kidding. This photo is from my interview. White water rafting on the Salmon River in Idaho. Also known as "the river of no return". Not making that up.

Peter was an expert in microdialysis/HPLC, then an emerging technology.

We published one of the first papers examing the role of glutamate in behavioral sensitization to cocaine.

This manuscript has now been cited over 500 times.

We also published a paper on CaM-KII and cocaine-induced neuronal and behavioral plasticity, a topic I would return to when I started my first lab at Boston University School of Medicine.


I was incredibly forunate to work with a series of outstanding graduate students at Boston University.

Including Stephanie Licata, Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili, Sharon Anderson, Heath Schmidt and Ausaf Bari, some of my closest friends to this day.

Most people studying animal models of addiction adopted the intravenous self-administration (IVSA) model in the 1990s. We were no exception. The IVSA/extinction/reinstatement model of craving in particular became the standard in the field.

We showed that the mPFC to accumbens glutanatergic pathway played a critical role in the reinstatement of cocaine seeking. (Similar to work emerging from the Kalivas Lab - remind me to never try to compete with Peter again) 

2008: Not a good year for a lot of people

2008: A great year for me

We published a paper that was a culmination of all the concepts of cocaine craving that we had developed to that point (dopamine, glutamate, AMPA receptors, CaMKII, all of it).

We published a paper that was a culmination of all the concepts of cocaine craving that we had developed to that point (dopamine, glutamate, AMPA receptors, CaMKII, all of it).

I received the Waletsky Memorial Award for addiction research from the Society for Neuroscience (honoring Jacob Waletsky).

I joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Center for Neurobiology and Behavior.

2008 was quite a year!


In progress....


In progress....