Biobehavioral Health Alumni Profile: Jeanette M. Bennett, Ph.D.

picture of Jeanette Bennett


B.S. 2002, Biology, Gannon University, Erie, PA
B.A. 2002, Psychology, Gannon University, Erie, PA
M.S. 2007, Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. 2010, Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University

Current Position

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Health Psychology Ph.D. Program
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

On the Ph.D. program, in her words:

“Obtaining a Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health provides broad development and allows a trainee to actualize what it means to be an interdisciplinary researcher. My unique experience was priceless. I am thoroughly pleased with my decision to attend BBH for my graduate training.

Current Research Interest:

Broadly, the underlying concept driving my research is that bidirectional neuroendocrine-immune communication occurs constantly to increase survival and maintain balance or homeostasis. This communication can be influenced by psychological (e.g., stress, depression), biological (e.g., sex, drug use, age), and psychosocial (e.g., socioeconomic status, social support) factors which ultimately affect overall health. Specifically, I study the effects of stress (psychological and pharmacological) on the neuroendocrine and immune systems across the lifespan in healthy and clinical populations.

Ph.D. Thesis Title

Nicotine Modulation of Anti-Viral Immunity in Periadolescent Male and Female C57BL/6J Mice

Brief description: Iinvestigated how nicotine changes the anti-viral immune response to herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 infection. Following 7 days of nicotine exposure, male and female mice were infected with HSV-1. The anti-viral response was indexed by totaling the number of lymphocytes isolated, quantifying interferon-gamma (IFN-g) production, and measuring the ability of T-cells to lyse HSV-1 infected cells. Females exhibited a greater anti-viral response to HSV-1 compared to their male counterparts. In addition, the low nicotine exposure group produced less IFN-g compared to the control group, suggesting a reduction in T-cell activation. However, there were no sex or nicotine treatment group differences in HSV-1 specific immunity. Therefore, the in vivo viral challenge resulted in a robust HSV-1 anti-viral response that was difficult to modulate with nicotine exposure in the present study.

Ph.D. advisor

Laura Cousino Klein