Welcoming New Faculty: Patrese A. Robinson-Drummer
Learn more about the new assistant professor of neuroscience.
Patrese A. Robinson-Drummer joins the Psychology Department as an assistant professor of neuroscience. She earned a bachelor of science degree in animal science at the University of Delaware, and received an M.S. from Saint Joseph’s University in experimental psychology. She then returned to the University of Delaware to earn her Ph.D. in psychology, focusing on behavioral neuroscience. Robinson-Drummer spent two years at New York University as a postdoctoral fellow before coming to Haverford in 2020 as a visiting assistant professor. Her research focuses on the ontogenetic development of different learning and memory systems, using rodent models (e.g., rats) to examine the psychobiological mechanisms responsible for their emergence.
What inspired her to seek a career in her field:
As an undergrad, I became interested in studying animal behavior. I joined a neuroscience lab, and while working there I really fell in love with research exploring developmental learning and memory in rats.
About her research and what excites her most about the work:
My research focuses on the emergence of learning and memory systems in developing rodents. I am also interested in how early life experiences (like perinatal toxins, maternal abuse, and stress) can change the trajectory of these systems and subsequent behaviors. What excites me most about this research is how it sheds light on the fundamental psychobiological differences that exist between developing and adult animals (including humans)! It is important to understand that young animals learn about the world with brains that are not just small versions of adult brains. Importantly, what we learn about typically developing systems using these models helps us understand how disorders associated with learning and memory systems emerge and potentially how they may be mitigated.
A professor who particularly inspired her:
Dr. Beth Morling at the University of Delaware was one of the best teachers I ever had. She taught a practicuum course for grad students that focused on teaching pedagogy in psychology courses. Dr. Morling emphasized the importance of understanding best practices for teaching science to undergrads and was passionate about effectively relaying our interests to students. One thing I took from her class is a need for engagement and excitement when introducing students to new topics in order to increase their confidence in their own ability to tackle challenging subjects. I have found that creating a fun and supportive class environment really encourages students to engage meaningfully with the materials and come away from the course with a general curiosity for neuroscience that they may not have had before.
What she’s passionate about outside of work:
Outside of work I enjoy volunteering with community centers and church groups, particularly to bring fun science festivals to the children in my community.
What’s on her must-watch list:
Currently on my must-watch list is a show called When Nature Calls, narrated by Helen Mirren, because it is just so incredibly funny! My favorite character is the “drunk otter.” I really enjoy delving into the world of animal shows—and silly cat videos especially!