Nancy Michael Associate Teaching Professor

Neuroscience and Behavior
Nancy Michael

Research Interests:

I am committed to improving pedagogical approaches in higher education. I am involved in course and program development, and use research quality assessment in my teaching to determine the efficacy of new pedagogical approaches on student learning. These data are used to improve the quality of my instruction in the classroom, and when appropriate human subjects consent is given, these data are published to contribute to the larger educational community.

In addition to the aforementioned pedagogical interests, my graduate and post-doctoral training were in the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology, and I have a continued interest in sex-differences in gonadal hormone-dependent changes in brain structure and animal behavior during puberty and adolescence. With the onset of puberty, the adolescent brain is subject to extensive sex-specific organization by gonadal hormones, estrogen and testosterone, in a sex-biased manner. My research interests focus on how pubertal gonadal hormones differentially influence the development of the prefrontal microcircuitry in male and females during adolescence, with particular curiosity regarding sex differences in mental illness.



  • Associate Teaching Professor - Present
  • Assistant Teaching Professor 2014-2020
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior 2014-Present
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Michigan State University 2012-2014
  • Neuropsychology Research Assistant, University of Michigan 2007-2008
  • Molecular Imaging Sales Executive/Technical Representative, Eastman Kodak Corporation 2005-2007
  • Molecular Biology Lab Manager/Research Assistant, Wayne State University Medical School 2004-2005
  • Pharmacogenetics Assistant Lab Technician, VanAndel Institute 2001-2003
  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, MN 2008-2012
  • B.S., Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, MI 1997-2001


Recent Papers:

  • Staffend NA, Mohr MA, DonCarlos LL, Sisk CL. A decrease in the addition of new cells in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex between puberty and adulthood in male rats. Dev Neurobiol. 2014 Jun;74(6):633-42
  • Staffend NA, Hedges VL, Chemel BR, Watts VJ, Meisel RL. Cell-type specific increases in female hamster nucleus accumbens spine density following female sexual experience. Brain Struct Funct. (2014) Nov;219(6):2071-81.
  • Been LE, Staffend NA, Taylor A, Meisel RL. Vesicular glutamate transporter 2 and tyrosine hydorxylase are not co-localized in Syrian hamster nucleus accumbens afferents. Neurosci Lett. (2013) Aug 29; 550:41-5.
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. Aggressive experience increases dendritic spine density within the nucleus accumbens core in female Syrian hamsters. Neuroscience. (2012) Dec 27;227:163-9
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. DiOlistic labeling in fixed brain slices: phenotype, morphology, and dendritic spines. Cur Prot Neurosci. (2011) Apr;Chapter 2:Unit2.13.
  • Staffend NA, Meisel RL. DiOlistic labeling of neurons in tissue slices: a qualitative and quantitative analysis of methodological variations. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy (2011) 5:1-10.
  • Staffend NA, Loftus CM, Meisel RL. Estradiol reduces dendritic spine density in the ventral striatum of female Syrian hamsters. Brain Structure and Function (2011) 215:187-194. Epub 2010 Oct 16.
  • Hedges VL, Staffend NA, Meisel RL. Neural mechanisms of reproduction in females as a predisposing factor for drug addiction. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology (2010) 31:217–231. Epub 2010 Feb 19. Review.