Kelsey Panfil

Professional Title:IMG_1398

Graduate Student

University, Department, Lab, Etc:

Kansas State University, Department of Psychological Sciences, Reward, Timing, and Decision Laboratory

Brief Bio:

I am from Chicago, IL and completed my Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. Most of neuroscience research is conducted with male subjects only. I am very passionate about taking the opposite approach. I study females only with the intent to understand how female sex hormones like estradiol and progesterone affect behavior.

Current Research Question:

How does estradiol affect impulsive decision making and timing behaviors in females?

Background on Research:

In my research program, I use rats to study decision making. My rats learn to choose between a small reward offered after a short delay and a larger reward available after a longer delay. If rats consistently choose the larger reward over the small reward, they earn more food. My rats also learn how to time short intervals in the seconds to minutes range. This might sound strange, but our ability to judge how much time has passed affects the choices we make. Sex hormones like estradiol and progesterone affect the choices we make too. Multiple sex hormones fluctuate across the estrous cycle, the cycle of sexual fertility, in rodents. I am interested in how these sex hormones affect the brain to change behavior and how this might affect females’ daily lives.

IMG_3128Overview of Methods Used:

Rodents are a great model to study the brain and behavior! I can administer or remove specific hormones to study how rats’ behavior changes. At the end of the study, I can also compare specific brain regions in a normal brain versus a brain where the hormones were manipulated. We can look at how these hormones act directly on different circuits and chemical messengers.

Connect with Kelsey Panfil:

Connect on Twitter and visit her laboratory’s website to learn more about their work.  Kelsey is also happy to connect with individuals or groups via email to answer questions, schedule in person visits, or collaborate on developing a lesson plan.  Let Sunset Zoo's Behind the Science staff help you connect with Kelsey Panfil by emailing