Faculty Spotlights

Lucia Carvelli, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Of Neuroscience

Lucia Carvelli, Ph.D., joined the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College as a tenured associate professor and the FAU Brain Institute as an Investigator. Carvelli also holds a secondary appointment in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. After receiving a PhD in Pharmacology at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan (Italy), Carvelli pursued postdoctoral studies in molecular neuropharmacology with Aurelio Galli at the University of Texas in San Antonio, followed by studies in membrane physiology with Louis DeFelice at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. At Vanderbilt, supported by an NIH R21 award, she pursued single channel analyses of C. elegans dopamine transporters in cultured neurons using whole cell patch-clamp techniques and evaluated dopamine transporter regulation by synaptic proteins in the nematode in vivo.

Carvelli came to FAU from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Therapeutics; earning tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2016. Supported by an NIH R01 award, her current research investigates the synaptic and multigenerational actions of psychostimulants, with a particular focus on amphetamines.

Carvelli has had a paper accepted in the Journal of Frontiers in Physiology, the second most cited journal in the physiology field. Carvelli uses the worm model, C. elegans, to study the nuts and bolts of amphetamine action, and provides the first evidence for a role for the synaptic protein syntaxin in the drug’s behavioral action. Many know that amphetamine targets the dopamine transporter (DAT) to induce its behavioral actions. Less is understood about how other proteins that are found at the synapse collaborate with DAT to bring about amphetamine action. Carvelli’s research sheds new light on a topic of broad public interest and underscores the strong collaboration between the Brain Institute and the Wilkes Honors College.

She currently teaches upper-level neuroscience courses that challenge students to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills. She is excited to help grow the research and educational missions of the Wilkes Honors College and the Brain Institute.

Laura Vernon, Ph.D.
Laura Vernon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Of Psychology

Laura Vernon, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, was FAU’s 2018 Distinguished Teacher of the Year, an award that is determined by FAU students.As a clinical psychologist, Vernon’s research is on psychological disorders and their treatment. Her lab broadly examines anxiety disorders, emotion, cognition, and mindfulness. Specifically, some of her recent research projects have examined the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based, equine-assisted therapy for different clinical disorders, as well as the usefulness of brief mindfulness interventions for college students, the contributions of fear and disgust to spider phobia, and the cognitive processes of emotion and phobias.As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, Vernon completed two undergraduate honors theses in Psychology and Sociology and took many small advanced seminar courses. The joys and benefits of that individual attention remain with her and she is delighted to offer the same kinds of research mentorship and small classroom experiences to students at the Honors College. Vernon enjoys introducing students to her beloved field in her General Psychology course, as well as exploring the fascinating nuances of Psychopathology, Psychotherapy, Positive Psychology, and Social Psychology with her students. It is her goal to give students enriching and challenging learning experiences and help them to apply what they learn to themselves and their lives, all while having lots of fun along the way. Vernon reviews for exams by playing Jeopardy (dubbed “Terrorific Trivia” around Halloween), sometimes her students can earn Psych Bucks, and her sorting hat places General Psych students into Psychology Houses (Harry Potter fans: Of course, the Slytherin House has been transformed into Freud House).Vernon enjoys mentoring students through their academic career and beyond. She is very proud of her many students who have won competitive undergraduate and graduate research fellowships, presented at local and national conferences, gotten accepted to prestigious graduate, law, and medical schools, and gone on to high-achieving careers. She is still in touch with many of her past students. Vernon has been faculty sponsor of student clubs such as the Psychology Club, the Newman Catholic Club, and the Quidditch Club.