Lauren K. Dobbs Ph.D.
Principle Investigator
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Dr. Dobbs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin and has a courtesy faculty appointment in the Neurology Department at the Dell Medical School.  She initially became inspired to study the neurobiology of addiction when working with drug-abusers as a post-baccalaureate clinical research assistant at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.  She went on to pursue graduate training in the behavioral pharmacology of drug reward and received a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University.   Her subsequent postdoctoral training at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism involved examining the neural circuits underlying drug related behaviors.  Dr. Dobbs’ laboratory takes a systems level approach to identify the neural substrates, circuits and behavioral motivations driving the co-abuse of addictive drugs.  Her research examines pairs of commonly co-abused drugs to determine how they interact at the behavioral, molecular, and synaptic levels to drive their synergistic intake when co-abused.  Her work has received multiple awards including a 2014 Fellow Award for Research Excellence from the National Institutes of Health and the 2017 Benedict J. Latteri Memorial Award for Excellence in Scientific Publication from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Amanda Harmon
Lab Manager

Amanda is the lab manager for the Dobbs Lab. Amanda became interested in neuroscience back in high school after taking a psychology class that focused on neural circuitry. Upon entering the University of Texas at Austin she enrolled into the neurobiology program. After graduating with her BS in neurobiology, she went on to work for the Department of State Health Services in their infectious disease department. At the state, she tested for a myriad of infectious diseases while working in a biosafety level 3 lab. After working for the state for 2 years, she took a position as the lab manager for Bio206L, the introductory biology lab class at UT, a 700 person class. While managing a team of 40 people, she helped develop novel labs for the course and introduced updated protocols that reflected how science was conducted in a modern laboratory. After 3 years of working with Bio206L, she decided that she wanted to return to research, so in mid 2019 she joined the Dobbs lab. She is excited to be making a return to neuroscience and is excited to help expand our understanding of polysubstance abuse and the molecular underpinnings that drive addiction. When she is not doing science she can be found hanging out with her fiance and two cats. She is also an avid artist that spends many weekends painting or making pottery.

Ryan Levitt
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Ryan is a senior, at the University of Texas at Austin, studying neuroscience and french. In the Dobbs lab, he work as an undergraduate research assistant doing research on how cocaine use affects enkephalin levels within the mesolimbic pathways. Outside of the lab, He enjoy hiking around Austin, reading any sort of fiction, and trying new places to eat.