Biology Department Welcomes New Professor, Dr. Benedict Kolber

The Department of Biological Sciences welcomed Dr. Benedict Kolber as an assistant professor beginning Dec. 1, 2011. Kolber came to Duquesne University from Washington University, where he worked as a post-doctoral fellow and received his Ph.D. in neuroscience.

"Duquesne has the perfect balance of teaching and scholarship," Kolber said about why he was attracted to this position. "In other words, the expectations for teaching complement the expectations for research. The research support system here is better than any other similarly sized university that I visited. In particular, the grants office, the machine shop and animal care staff are all fantastic."

Kolber's research is focused on the brain control of pain and stress. He is studying amygdala, which is a small structure in the brain involved in processing stressful stimuli, modulating reactions to a stressor, and modulating pain responses. In Kolber's description of his research, he states he is trying to understand the molecular and cellular components of this processing. The precise types of pain he is interested in understanding include disorders with a clear connection to stress, as well as those less commonly associated with emotional dysregulation.

Kolber didn't waste any time getting undergraduate biology students involved in his research. He brought on undergraduates David George and Jarred Stratton in the spring 2012 semester, and both students took part in the 2012 Undergraduate Research Program. Through Kolber's recommendation, Stratton applied for and received the American Physiological Society's Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship. Kolber was also a recipient of this fellowship as an undergraduate student at the University of Dayton.

"What I liked about working for Dr. Kolber was that he was very hands-on in teaching new laboratory techniques, emphasizing the see one, do one, teach one method," Stratton said. "He also always made a point to explain the purpose of performing different experiments."

Kolber understands the value of having undergraduate students gain research experience. "I was in that circumstance," Kolber explains. "I want to offer students the same opportunity."

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