Susan Schantz

Professor, Veterinary Biosciences, Psychology
B.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison


One aspect of my research centers on understanding the neurobehavioral effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), methyl mercury (MeHg), and other contaminants. My research focuses on exposure to these compounds during development and aging, two periods when the nervous system is particularly vulnerable to toxic insult. My approach includes laboratory-based animal studies and parallel epidemiological studies. One aspect of my laboratory research program is mechanistically based, focusing on understanding the specific functional domains that are altered or impaired by contaminant exposure and the biological mechanisms underlying those impairments. Another aspect is risk-based, modeling actual human exposure to PCBs, methyl mercury and other chemicals. An important goal of these studies is to determine whether there are additive or interactive effects of combined exposure to these chemicals on neuropsychological function in exposed human populations. A recent addition to my program is studies assessing the impact of dietary estrogens on cognitive function during aging. Specifically we are using animal models to assess the effects of estrogenic components of soy- based dietary supplements on executive functions including working memory, attention and response inhibition in young, middle-aged and old animals.

Research Areas

Representative Publications

Powers, B.E., Lin, T.-M., Vanka, A., Peterson, R.E., Juraska, J.M., and Schantz, S.L. 2005. Tetrachlordibenzo-p- dioxin exposure alters radial arm maze performance and hippocampal morphology in female AhR KO mice. Genes, Brain and Behavior. 4:51-59.

Widholm, J.J., Villareal, S., Seegal, R.F., and Schantz, S.L. 2004. Spatial alternation deficits following developmental expsosure to Aroclor 1254 and/or methylmercury in rats. Toxicological Sciences. 82:577-589.

Roegge, C.S., Wang, V.C., Powers, B.E., Klintsova, A.Y., Villareal, S., Greenough, W.T., and Schantz, S.L. 2004. Motor Impairment in Rats Exposed to PCBs and Methylmercury during Early Development. Toxicological Sciences. 77:315-324.

Widholm, J.J., Clarkson, G.B., Strupp, B.J., Crofton, K.M., Seegal, R.F., and Schantz, S.L. 2001. Spatial reversal learning in Aroclor 1254 rats: Sex specific deficits in inhibitory control and associative ability. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 174:188-198.

Schantz, S.L., Gasior, D.M., Polverejan, E., McCaffrey, R.J., Sweeney, A.M., Humphrey, H.E.B., and Gardiner, J.C. 2001. Impaired memory and learning in older adults exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls via consumption of Great Lakes fish. Environmental Health Perspectives. 109:605-611.

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