Megan Mahoney Ph.D.

Profile picture for Megan Mahoney Ph.D.

Contact Information

3639 VMBSB
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana IL 61802
Associate Professor

Research Interests

-Circadian Rhythms

-Estrogen Signaling



Research Description


My innovative research brings together the fields of chronobiology, reproductive biology, and neurotoxicology. Biological rhythms are essential for life as they underlie a myriad of physiological processes from the sleep-wake cycle, metabolism, and immune function, to reproductive cyclicity and hormone secretion. I examine the influence of estradiol, estrogen receptor agonists, botanicals, and endocrine disrupting chemicals on daily sleep-wake activity patterns, the behavioral and neural responses to light signals, and rhythms in protein and mRNA levels. My research is important as it addresses basic scientific questions such as:

  1. When and how do changes in hormone signals program the adult timekeeping system?
  2. How are sex differences in circadian rhythms regulated by circulating hormones?

My lab has been the first to characterize when and how estrogen signaling mechanisms regulate the expression on behavioral and neural circadian rhythms. My work brings a new perspective to understanding how sex differences and hormones regulate biological rhythms in humans and other species.




Ph.D. Dual degrees in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior (EEBB)

Michigan State University

“Sex, surges, and circadian rhythms: the timing of reproductive events in a diurnal rodent”

Advisor: Dr. Laura Smale


Bachelor of Arts in Biology

Bates College (1993-1995)

Thesis High Honors, magna cum laude Advisor: Dr. Cheryl M. McCormick


Smith College (1991-1993)

Biology Major




Carle Illinois Collaborative Research Seed Funding Program

Mahoney (PI), Davies (PI), Flaws (PI), and Smith (PI)

Impact of hormonal changes and environmental chemicals on sleep disruptions in a population of menopausal women


Additional Campus Affiliations

Associate Professor, Comparative Biosciences
Associate Professor, Psychology
Director of Graduate Programs, Comparative Biosciences

Recent Publications

Hatcher, K. M., Willing, J., Chiang, C., Rattan, S., Flaws, J. A., & Mahoney, M. M. (2019). Exposure to di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate transgenerationally alters anxiety-like behavior and amygdala gene expression in adult male and female mice. Physiology and Behavior, 207, 7-14.

Hatcher, K. M., Royston, S. E., & Mahoney, M. M. (Accepted/In press). Modulation of circadian rhythms through estrogen receptor signaling. European Journal of Neuroscience.

Smith, R. L., Flaws, J. A., & Mahoney, M. M. (2018). Factors associated with poor sleep during menopause: results from the Midlife Women's Health Study. Sleep Medicine, 45, 98-105.

Roberston, A. L., Balachandran, R. C., Mahoney, M. M., & Eubig, P. A. (2017). Circadian disruption affects initial learning but not cognitive flexibility in an automated set-shifting task in adult Long-Evans rats. Physiology and Behavior, 179, 226-234.

Gal, A., Lin, P. C., Cacioppo, J. A., Hannon, P. R., Mahoney, M. M., Wolfe, A., ... Ko, C. (2016). Loss of Fertility in the Absence of Progesterone Receptor Expression in Kisspeptin Neurons of Female Mice. PloS one, 11(7), [e0159534].

View all publications on Illinois Experts