Past Features

March 23, 2009 (Vol. 9, No. 5)

What Prairie Voles Can Teach Us About Fatherhood

Maryam Bamshad-Alavi
Professor Maryam Bamshad-Alavi

Why are some men monogamous and paternal, while others are not?

The answer may lie in the brain of a small furry rodent called a prairie vole.

Biological Sciences Professor Maryam Bamshad-Alavi will discuss her research on how the brain works to form and maintain social bonds in a talk on April 2 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., entitled "Secrets to becoming a better father: Insights from a male prairie vole."

Prof. Bamshad-Alavi is the featured speaker in this colloquia series that highlights current research topics in the field of biology. Her research examines how chemicals in the brain play a role in monogamous mating systems and parental behavior.

"In nature, most male prairie voles mate with their partner for life and take care of their infants," said Prof. Bamshad-Alavi. "However, just like with humans, some male prairie voles mate and have infants with multiple females." She hopes that this research leads to a better understanding of the biology of social disorders like autism.

A member of the Lehman faculty since 1998, Prof. Bamshad-Alavi is currently working on a manuscript entitled "Exposure to female's sensory cues after mating enhances male prairie vole's ability to care for infants." She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Massachusetts.