johnston uab psychiatry

Assistant Professor

Areas of Interest
- Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
- Systems Neuroscience
- Anxiety Disorders
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Women’s Mental Health


Dr. Lucas joined the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurobiology as an Assistant Professor in July 2022. Her doctoral and postdoctoral training has spanned almost every subdiscipline of neuroscience, from behavioral to molecular to systems. Her doctoral research was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Rita Cowell in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology at the UAB. She combined molecular biology with genetic approaches in mouse models to determine novel region- and cell-specific gene targets of a transcriptional coactivator implicated in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric illness. Dr. Lucas then joined the lab of Dr. Roger Clem as a postdoctoral fellow in the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. There she incorporated optogenetic approaches with in vitro slice electrophysiology to examine experience-dependent plasticity of neural circuits after emotional learning. In January 2018, Dr. Lucas opened her independent lab at Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences at North Carolina State University. Her federally-funded research program utilizes mouse models to uncover the molecular-, cellular-, and circuit-based mechanisms driving sex differences in susceptibility to behaviors relevant to post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders. In addition to her research accomplishments, Dr. Lucas also has taught graduate- and undergraduate-level courses in statistics, molecular genetics, and neurobiology at UAB, New York University, and North Carolina State University. Dr. Lucas particularly enjoys mentoring students of all levels toward the completion of independent research projects, and many of her students have earned grants and other accolades for their research. We are excited to have recruited Dr. Lucas back to her alma mater, where she will continue her preclinical research program with aspirations to translate her findings from bench to bedside through collaborations with clinical researchers.

Education & Training 

Bachelor of Science, Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2005

Doctor of Philosophy, Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience Concentration), University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2011

Postdoctoral Fellow, Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 2017


Next Steps:

You may also call 205-934-7008 to schedule your next appointment.