Women in Neuroscience
Throughout history men have greatly dominated the advances of science, but in the last century many women have stepped forward and cemented their position in the field and have contributed greatly to it’s expansion and exploration, especially in neuroscience. However, still only one in every five articles published in Nature Neuroscience has a female coauthor. This can lead to a spiral effect with men getting more jobs in the neuroscience field because of being published more frequently, therefore, continuing to hold women back when it is extremely unnecessary (Women in neuroscience: a numbers game, 2006). This paper will focus on Stephanie White and how she beat those odds in her work with the Haplochromis burtoni (teleost fish) and studying many different facets that change their neurons and influence their bodies.
Early 1990s Work
In the early 1990s, while working with Russ Fernald at Stanford University, Stephanie White began observing the preoptico-hypothalamic area (POA) neurons that contain gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and the changes they undergo in female teleost fish during the major times of the different reproductive portions of their lives; before, during, or after. In this study they found that their cell size drastically changes in the different times of their lives. For example, the POA neurons were found to be close to two times larger in the fish that had spawned or were currently in the act of spawning than fish that had not spawned, but the POA neurons were found to be the largest in the fish after they had spawned.
Previous studies concluded that male fish that were higher on the dominance scale had larger GnRH containing neurons than the less-dominant males. Since the females do not coexist on a dominance scale, the main factor to the size of their GnRH containing neurons can be linked directly to their reproductive state. The conclusion that White and Fernald came to upon discovering this...
References: 1. Helen E. Fox, Stephanie A. White, Mimi H.F. Kao, Russell D. Fernald, Stress and dominance in a social fish. The Journal of Neuroscience, 17(16), 6463-6469 (1997).
2. Stephanie A. White, Russell D. Fernald, Changing through doing: behavioral influences on the brain. Recent Progress in Hormone Research, 52, (1997).
3. Stephanie A. White, Russell D. Fernald, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone-containing neurons change with reproductive state in female Haplochromis burtoni. The Journal of Neuroscience, 13(2), 434-441 (1993).
4. Stephanie A. White, Tuan Nguyen, Russell D. Fernald, Social regulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 205, 2567-2581 (2002).
5. Women in neuroscience: a numbers game. Nature Neuroscience 9, 853 (2006), doi:10.1038/nn0706-853.
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