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Crespi Lab Researchers

Meet the Researchers

Erica Crespi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Principal Investigator

School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University

My research seeks to understand how environmental stressors and nutrition affect early developmental processes in vertebrates. I focus on examining the ways in which the neuroendocrine stress axis and energy balance factors interact to regulate growth, morphogenesis, and immune function during early life stages. I am also interested in how these endocrine systems program later life behavior, physiology, growth, and reproduction through their organizing effects during early development.

I primarily use amphibian model systems to study environmental and maternal effects on developmental plasticity, but I also investigate similar questions in other vertebrates including people! I combine molecular, cellular, endocrine, and behavioral approaches to understand these complex and interrelated responses in ecological and evolutionary contexts. I strive to apply our understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying short- and long-term stress responses to adverse environmental conditions to landscape-level processes relevant to questions in human health and conservation biology.

Carrie Cuttler, Ph.D., Assistant Professor,

Department of Psychology, Washington State University

Dr. Cuttler leads the Health and Cognition Laboratory at WSU, which focuses on elucidating the potentially beneficial and detrimental effects of chronic cannabis use and acute cannabis intoxication. Her current and recent work focuses on examining links between cannabis use and mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety, OCD), physical health (e.g., pain, sleep), stress, and cognition (e.g., memory, decision-making, executive functioning, creativity, attention). Further, we are interested in examining effects of cannabis with different concentrations of THC and CBD as well as effects of cannabis concentrates to better understand their influence on mental health, physical health, and cognition.

The Health & Cognition Lab

Dr. Cuttler’s Publications & CV

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, Ph.D., Associate Professor,

College of Nursing, Washington State University

Dr. Celestina Barbosa-Leiker is the Associate Dean for Research and an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at Washington State University (WSU). She is also the Director of the Program of Excellence in Addictions Research and a member of the Committee on Cannabis Research and Outreach at WSU. Dr. Barbosa-Leiker’s primary research investigates gender differences in opioid use. Her research has demonstrated sex differences in the measurement of opioid withdrawal, relapse while in treatment, and predictors of relapse. Her additional line of research focuses on the transition from pregnancy to parenthood in women with substance use disorders. She is currently leading an interdisciplinary research team to assess mothers, infants, and healthcare providers in order to better care for women with opioid use disorders, as well as for women using cannabis during pregnancy. The results of these studies will help better educate healthcare providers and pregnant women, inform maternal and infant health policy and improve standards of care. Dr. Barbosa-Leiker has methodological expertise in psychometrics and longitudinal latent variable modeling.

Dr. Barbosa-Leiker’s Publications & CV

Jennifer Madigan, Graduate Researcher

School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University

My research focuses on how maternal wellbeing during pregnancy affects offspring’s early development and their long-term stress resilience. I primarily focus on cortisol research using human hair. I use both behavioral and molecular approaches to understand the effect of stress on mothers and their children. I am also interested in looking at environmental factors and how they impact early development and epigenetics.

I have a deep connection to the military because I was raised in that lifestyle. Both my parents were enlisted in the Navy, so I am aware of the unique experiences that military families face on a day-to-day basis. My hope is that the research I conduct with military populations can improve the lifestyle of military families in the future.

Carmen Abbe, B.A., Research Assistant

Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Washington State University

Carmen is a second-year medical student who is a research assistant working on this project. She is passionate about women’s health care and has been involved in research in the Crespi Laboratory since 2020.

Sierra Forler, B.S., Research Assistant

School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University

Sierra is a first-year graduate student who is a research assistant working on this project. She is passionate about women’s health care and has been involved in research in the Crespi Laboratory since 2020.