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Shaz Gangji '12
2011-2012 Honors Student

Name:  Shaz Gangji '12
Honors in: Neuroscience
Hometown: Edison, N.J.
Major: Neuroscience

Title of project: The Effect of Pheromones on EGR-1 Activation in GnRH-I Neurons in Male Rats

Project advisor: Dr. Jennifer Swann

Abstract or brief description: Chemosensory signals, or more specifically, pheromones, allow for communication between members of the same species. Female pheromones activate regions of the male brain and contribute to male sexual arousal and mating behaviors by increasing the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) via the release of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH). This experiment focuses on the activation of a subtype of GnRH neurons, GnRH-I, in W-Tg(Gnrh1-EGFP)Nphy sexually experienced male rats in the presence of female pheromones. EGR-1, an immediate early gene was used to determine GnRH-I's role in the release of LH. GnRH-I neurons double labeled with EGR-1 is indicative of neuronal stimulation suggesting that that particular neuron is involved with male mating behavior.

I studied the effect that female rat pheromones could have on male rat brain regions containing GnRH-I neurons. I specifically looked for the presence of the immediate early gene, EGR-1, in GnRH-I neurons to determine if GnRH-I is activated in the presence of a female pheromone.

How did you get interested in your topic? I didn't have a choice with this topic and I was not very familiar with it, but I learned a lot from the experience.

Do you intend to research your topic further? If so, how? I probably won't, but another member of the lab will be continuing my research topic further by looking at the female rat brains used in my experiment.

How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? Since I was not well versed in the field of neuroendocrinology, I definitely became more interested in it and gained a lot experience from it. Because of the amount of time I spent in lab, I also learned how to better manage my time.

How has the department (or faculty advisor) prepared you for the future? The brain has always fascinated me and since I am pursing a healthcare profession, honors in neuroscience would be very beneficial.

What advice do you have for other students interested in Honors? Even when the going gets rough, try your best to stick with it.

My future plans: I am currently applying for jobs as an emergency department medical scribe throughout the east coast. After a year or two of working, I hope to become a physician assistant.