Dr. Portia Kunz grew up in the southern United States and moved to Utah where she finished high school and went to Weber State University to pursue a B.S. in Microbiology. While at UAB, she earned her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Lori McMahon in the department of Neurobiology. Her dissertation focused on characterizing the effects of cholinergic degeneration on synaptic plasticity in rodent and tree shrew animal models of dementia. In 2008, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Philpot at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her postdoctoral fellowship. She is currently funded by a translational postdoctoral fellowship from Autism Speaks that includes both basic science and clinical research components. Her current research, and future projects, focus on how Ube3a function contributes to dendritic spine formation and plasticity in mouse models of Angelman syndrome (AS). She has also been active in the AS clinic at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities examining anxiety behaviors in individuals with AS. She misses the people, beer Thursdays, and the collaborations most from her time spent at UAB.
CNC Neuroscience Research Day 2014