Jenna Frick is a 2019-2023 Self Graduate Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Frick received a B.A. (2015) in chemistry and a license in secondary education from Washburn University, Topeka, KS. Realizing her interest in science and education, Frick taught chemistry and biology at Blue Valley North high school from 2015-2018 before pursuing graduate school. Frick’s Ph.D. research focuses on early life stress-induced co-morbid disorders. Exposure to stress early in life has been associated with adult-onset comorbidities including chronic pain, obesity-related metabolic disorder, and physical inactivity. Altered regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis has been linked to these syndromes; however, the underlying mechanism that links these disorders together remains unknown. Previous data has shown that a high-fat/high-sucrose diet exacerbates outcomes induced by early life stress such as increased body weight, fat mass, and food consumption. Frick hopes to identify the underlying mechanisms contributing to early life stress-induced weight gain and changes in appetite. Due to her experience as both a student and a teacher, Frick is passionate about improving the quality of science education and hopes to earn a faculty position upon completion of her Ph.D.
Mentor: Julie Christianson, Associate Professor, Anatomy and Cell Biology