My name is Waqqas Shams and I am currently in my last year of undergraduate studies, completing an independent project with a post-doc researcher in the maternal behaviour lab. I am currently pursuing an Honours degree, specializing in psychology. Recently, I have been interested in studying the neuro-endocrinology aspect of maternal behaviour. My current research focuses on the dopamine specificity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) to specific stimuli (i.e. pups or food), focusing on the motivation aspect in post-partum and hormonally primed virgin female rats. I intend to conduct a similar study in other parts of the brain, such as the medial preoptic area (MPOA), to look at the similarity and differences in dopamine specificity and motivational behaviour.
In my spare time, I enjoy hunting unicorns, reading to the leprechauns and swimming with the Lochnus monster. Every now and then I like to mix things up a little by reading to Nessy, hunting leprechauns and going swimming with the unicorns. I find this very rewarding!
Originally born in Kuwait, I spent the first three years of my life there before embarking on a 30-day car ride through the Middle East to Pakistan in flight of the Gulf War in 1991. I was there for only 6 months before immigrating to Canada, and have been living in the GTA ever since. As far as adventures go, that’s all there is to it! In my spare time I like to read (my favourite book is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand), play or listen to music (my family-band loves performing Coldplay covers!), try exotic cooking, and especially work out.
At UTM, I’m pursuing an honours BSc with a Psychology specialist and Statistics minor. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with Dr. Alison Fleming and her colleagues since 2006. In my time at the lab, I’ve gained experience in different methods used to study maternal behavior. These include the artificial rearing paradigm, hormone manipulations, and stereotaxic operations. In September 2009, I will begin my undergraduate thesis under Dr. Fleming’s supervision. My project will look at the consequences of drug manipulations in the medial prefrontal cortex on the onset of maternal behavior, an area of the brain that has had little prior exploration in mothers. In the future, I hope to take my knowledge and experience in neuroscience and apply it to humans, specifically in the study of neurodegenerative diseases.
My next steps after receiving my degree will be to attend graduate school, so stay tuned!