Department of Psychological Science
Spotlight on Research
Sayamwong "Jom" Hammack, Ph.D.
Jom and Jasper
Although I had vague interests in panic and Alzheimer's, the Psychology Department at FSU had particularly strong expertise in the study of sensation and perception, and my attempts to find research experience landed me in a taste lab. As an undergraduate, I worked in the laboratory of Robert Contreras, recording from the chorda tympani, a nerve that carries sensory information from the tongue. We recorded the response of this nerve to the application of salt onto the tongue in different strains of rats to determine whether differences in salt preference could be attributed to different sensitivities of the tongue to our stimuli. It was a terrific experience for an undergraduate, and I've always believed that undergraduates should be involved in the research process.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Scott Weissman working at the whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology rig in the Hammack Lab
In 2002 I started a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University where I spend four years studying how serotonin modulates a brain structure called the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, which has been linked to anxiety and anxiety disorders, and is also critical for learned helplessness. I conducted this research in the laboratory of Donald "Tig" Rainnie who taught me how to use electrophysiological techniques to record from single neurons in the brain. In 2006, I joined the faculty in UVM's Psychology Department, where I currently teach and run a research laboratory.
Danielle Beaudoin checking out the rig
Many of these projects involve collaborations with other Psychology Department faculty, as well as investigators in the medical school. Notably, many undergraduate students contribute to the science that occurs in the laboratory, and I am very thankful for their contributions.