Ian Mendez, Ph.D., M.A.
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried” -Theodore Roosevelt
Ph.D. in Psychology, Texas A and M University
M.A. in Psychology, California State University, San Marcos
B.A. in Psychology, California State University, San Marcos
I have had over 15 year of training in Cellular and Behavioral Neuroscience, and through excellent mentorship, have acquired the technical expertise, research knowledge, and problem-solving abilities necessary to address exciting and novel research questions. The primary aim of my research is to elucidate the signals and circuits of the brain that become dysregulated following repeated exposure to rewards, and how they ultimately contribute to changes in motivational, hedonic, and cognitive processes. Specifically, my research investigates aberrant reward seeking and taking behaviors, impaired economic cost-benefit decision making, and how brain reward systems interact with metabolic mechanisms to promote feeding disorders and obesity. These processes are relevant to a myriad of psychiatric disorders, with particularly strong implications for addiction. My research investigates these conditions by utilizing experimental methods that I have learned across my career, including methods in biology, pharmacology, and behavior. Furthermore, I am continuing to develop and integrate novel neuroscience techniques into my work, including genetic engineering and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. In addition to my research interests, I am also interested in establishing excellence in research training for students. I have also provided training in the laboratory for over 30 undergraduate and graduate students across my career, and aim to continue my education in mentorship and pedagogy. As an individual from a population underrepresented in the sciences, I have also had a strong interest, and numerous experiences, receiving and providing research training to individuals from these groups. I believe that the training, experiences, and mentorship I have received from talented scientists, in numerous and diverse laboratories across the country, has allowed me to obtain a clear understanding of the educational, methodological, and social skills necessary to maintain an active and rewarding career in research. My long-term goal is to manage a productive and collaborative neuroscience laboratory, with a particular focus on enhancing student training opportunities.
I was born in Los Angeles, California, to two-Mexican immigrants, and raised in a small agricultural town along the Mexican border. My interest in science came at a very early age, with a strong curiosity in understanding how the world around us works. Although it was evident to me that I wanted to be a scientist, it was not until my first psychology course that I decided that I wanted to be a neuroscientist. I was first introduced to neuroscience research in my third year in college, by Dr. Keith Trujillo at California State University, San Marcos. Dr. Trujillo instilled in me not only the confidence and grit necessary to succeed in academia, but also the knowledge and skills that are so critical for a career in research. At CSUSM I learned about important concepts, such as the fundamentals of the scientific method, ethics in research, and effective communication of data. Dr Trujillo also taught me about the significant under representation of minorities in higher education and how critical they are for scientific research. Following completion of my undergraduate degree, I was fortunate enough to be accepted to graduate school at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M I was further trained in the field of neuroscience, under the guidance of two talented mentors; Dr. Barry Setlow and Dr. Antonio Cepeda-Benito. I graduated from Texas A&M in 2010 and am currently in my 5th year, working as a Postdoctoral Scholar, at the University of California, Los Angeles. Here, under the mentorship of Nigel Maidment, I am working to expand my skills and establish my independence. My long-term goal is to set up a collaborative and active research laboratory at an academic institution, and provide training and mentorship to the next generation of young scientists. As a first generation college graduate, I will continue to dedicated my academic and professional career towards the advancement of science and the support and programs aimed at supporting underrepresented populations.
- Mendez, I.A., Maidment, N.T., and Murphy, N.P. (2016). Parsing the hedonic and motivational influences of nociceptin on feeding using licking microstructure analysis in mice. Behavioural Pharmacology. PMID: 27100061
- Mendez, I.A., Ostlund, S.B., Maidment, N.T., Murphy, N.P. (2015). Involvement of endogenous enkephalins and β-endorphin in feeding and diet-induced obesity. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(9), 2103-2112.
- Mendez, I.A., Damborsky, J.C., Gilbert, R., Winzer-Serhan, U.H., Bizon, J. and Setlow, B. (2013). α4β2* and α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor binding predicts choice preference in two cost benefit decision making tasks. Neuroscience. 230, 121-131.
- Mendez, I.A., Gilbert, R., Bizon, J. and Setlow, B. (2012).Effects of acute administration of nicotinic and muscarinic cholinergic agonists and antagonists on different forms of cost-benefit decision making. Psychopharmacology, 224(4), 489-499.
- Wallis, D., Hill, D.S., Mendez, I.A., Abbott, L.C., Finnell, R.H., Wellman, P.J. and Setlow, B. (2012). Initial characterization of the Lphn3 mutant mouse; relevance to ADHD and addiction. Brain Research, 1463, 85-92.