A passion for research, teaching

Re-search. It’s exploration. It’s studying materials. It’s establishing facts and reaching new conclusions.

For University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Aaryn Mustoe ’09, of South Milwaukee, research is his passion. Mustoe currently works as a graduate assistant and instructor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he is pursuing a doctorate and studying marmoset monkeys.

“My research interests focus generally on how social structure and hormones influence development and social behavior in marmoset monkeys,” Mustoe said.

Mustoe has taken his undergraduate education in biology and psychology and the hands-on research he was immersed in at UW Oshkosh with him to his work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he also earned a master’s degree in 2012.

Mustoe’s noninvasive research focuses on how hormones influence behavior in the monkeys.

“In the lab, one question I’m seeking to answer is whether the hormone oxytocin will make pair-bonded marmosets more or less willing to donate food to opposite sex strangers,” Mustoe said.

While Mustoe is recording the behaviors of the monkeys he studies, he said it is extremely difficult to use behavior as an indicator of intelligence and stressed that context is crucial to measuring intelligence, as well as creativity.

“Creativity is a hallmark of humans,” Mustoe said. “When it comes to intelligence, being creative, innovative and motivated is most important.”

For Mustoe, the most interesting part about the way our brains work, aside from controlling our nervous system, is the way our brains interact with the environment.

“The real interesting part, at least for me, is the field called ‘social neuroscience,’” Mustoe said. “Researchers are interested in how our brains differ or change based on social situations. Whether it is becoming a parent or being in love, all these things dramatically alter the brain chemistry in both short-term and long-term ways.”

 

 

Watch the video to learn more about Mustoe’s research:

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