Neal McNeal — Graduate School, Psychology
Neal McNeal earned his doctorate in psychology with an emphasis in neuroscience and behavior.
A highly productive scholar, he has been involved in some amazing research. And that work has important implications for many of us. He is actually on the fast track to becoming a world expert in prairie voles. That’s right, prairie voles.
If you’ve never seen a vole, they’re chunky mouse-like creatures that burrow underground and wreak havoc on gardens. They’re known to bite. Or As Neal says, “They really like each other and despise everyone else.”
As it turns out, the rodents are excellent animal models for scientists because they exhibit human-like social behaviors. They mate with the same partner for life, raise offspring together and form strong family bonds. Working with psychology professor Angela Grippo, Neal has helped show how social experiences in the voles influence the brain and biological processes in the body—and how disrpution of social bonds can lead to stress, negative mood states and disease.
All of his hard work and creative approaches to research have resulted in authorship on eight research publications. More importantly, he has contributed new knowledge regarding the role of social relationships in stress, depression and heart disease in humans, the number one killer of both men and women.
He and his wife Ericka met here at NIU. She now works as a school psychologist. Neal has been hired on to continue his work at NIU as a post-doctoral researcher in professor Grippo’s laboratory. We believe Neal has many more discoveries to make.