CummingsAssistant Professor

Research Areas
Memory and fear



The goal of the research in the Cummings lab is to uncover the circuit plasticity mechanisms responsible for the promotion and suppression of learned fear, with an initial focus on the rodent medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC).

While the ability to learn about and respond appropriately to threats is essential for survival, such responses to innocuous stimuli are maladaptive and are a prominent feature of neuropsychiatric disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In both humans and rodents, the dorsal and ventral regions of the mPFC are postulated to promote and suppress cue-elicited defensive behaviors, respectively. However, the exact circuit organization and plasticity mechanisms supporting these roles remain unclear. To investigate these circuits, we employ a multi-dimensional approach by combining viral and genetic techniques in transgenic mice, activity-dependent tagging of neural ensembles (or ‘engrams’), in vivo optogenetic manipulations, ex vivo whole-cell electrophysiological recordings in brain slices, and in vivo calcium imaging techniques in freely behaving mice, including fiber photometry and miniature head-mounted microscopes (Miniscopes). Our findings will reveal the organization, connectivity, and plasticity of circuits responsible for encoding and suppressing fear, and how these circuits might go awry in neuropsychiatric disorders like PTSD.

We recognize that outstanding science can only be achieved through inclusive excellence, and as such we encourage and welcome prospective team members with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.


Graduate School
Ph.D. SUNY University at Buffalo 2016

Postdoctoral Fellowship
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai




Committed to fundamental neuroscience research

The UAB Department of Neurobiology is making a national and international impact in fundamental neuroscience research. Our faculty have received numerous national and international awards recognizing excellence in research and training and provide a unique perspective for interdisciplinary neuroscience research and teaching careers at academic health science centers.


We focus on the molecular and cellular basis of normal structure and function of the nervous system, with applications to neurological health and disease.


Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows train in advanced research techniques and the neurobiology of disease.