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Ryan Shanks, Ph.D.

Title: Professor, Biology
Phone: 706-864-1368

Office: Health and Natural Sciences, 437, Dahlonega
Areas of Expertise: Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, Science of Teaching and Learning

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 1107K - Principles of Biology I
  • BIOL 3240K - Cell Biology
  • BIOL 4435 - Immunology


  • Ph.D., Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, 2002
  • B.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, 1997

Research/Special Interests

Dr. Shanks' research interests focus on the systemic and neurological effects of psychostimulants utilizing mice as a model organism as well as cultured microglia cells. Research students in his lab approach scientific investigations with a multi-disciplinary approach in collaboration with professors from the departments of Biology, Psychology, and Physics.

Dr. Shanks is also actively involved with students in educational research.  Techniques utilized in the lab include cell culture, animal care, rodent cognition and activity chambers, molecular biology (real-time PCR), histology, proteinase activity assays, phosphorylation studies, and student learning assessment. Students who conduct research with Dr. Shanks pursue several lines of investigation including:

1) The cognitive effects of adolescent exposure to methamphetamine and methylphenidate in adult mice.

2) The effects of prenatal and adolescent exposure to psychostimulants on addictive behavior in adults.

3) The systemic effects of methamphetamine abuse on the neuroendocrine and systemic immune systems.

4) The activity, number, and location of microglia in the brain following psychostimulant exposure.

5) The biochemical, molecular, and functional response of microglia cells to methamphetamine exposure and other neuroactive molecules in the brain.

6) The cell signaling events in specific brain regions altered by exposure to methamphetamine.

7) The activity of proteases in brain regions associated with the breakdown of the blood brain barrier following psychostimulant exposure.

8) Assessment of novel teaching strategies and laboratories in an undergraduate setting.

Please do not hesitate to contact him if you are interested in undergraduate research opportunities.


* denotes undergraduate student

Hatch DL, Zschau T, Hays A*, McAllister K*, Harrison M*, Cate KL, Shanks RA, Lloyd SA (2014). Of mice and meth: A new media-based neuropsychopharmacology lab to teach research methods. Teaching of Psychology, 41(2), 167-174. 

Lloyd SA, Oltean C*, Pass H*, Phillips B*, Staton K*, Robertson CL, Shanks RA (2013). Prenatal exposure to psychostimulants increases impulsivity, compulsivity, and motivation for rewards in adult mice.  Physiology and Behavior. 2013 Jul 2;119:43-51.

Lacomba CD*, Lloyd SA, Shanks RA (2013). An infrasonic missing fundamental rises at 18.5Hz. Papers and Publications: Interdisciplinary Journal of Undergraduate Research. 2(1): Article 11.

Hatch DL, Zschau T, Hays A*, McAllister K*, Harrison M*, Cate KL, Shanks RA, & Lloyd SA (in press 2013). Of mice and meth: A new media-based neuropsychopharmacology lab to teach research methods. Teaching of Psychology.

Shanks RA, Anderson J*, Taylor JR*, Lloyd SA (2012). Amphetamine and methamphetamine have a direct and differential effect on BV-2 microglia cells. Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine. 154(2): 228-32.

Shanks RA, Southard EM*, Tarnowski L*, Bruster M*, Wingate SW*, Dalman N, Lloyd SA (2012). A vodcasted, cross-disciplinary, behavioral neuroscience laboratory exercise investigating the effects of methamphetamine on aggression. Bioscene, 37(2): 10-17.

Work Experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Baylor College of Medicine, 2004-2006
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, 2002-2004

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