New Faculty Profile: Divya Sitaraman, PhD

Divya Sitaraman, PhD
The Department of Psychological Sciences is pleased to announce the addition of Divya Sitaraman, PhD, to its faculty. The following is a brief Q&A to get you acquainted with our newest psychology scholar.
Can you describe your academic background?

I received my BS (with honors) in Biochemistry from University of Delhi and moved to Bombay, India to pursue an MS in Biotechnology at Indian Institute of Technology. Thereafter, I went on to pursue a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience at University of Missouri. More recently I have been pursuing research at Yale University and Janelia Farm Research Campus. My interdisciplinary training makes me feel very at home with the study of Behavioral Neuroscience as there is a space for every background. It will take everything and everyone to understand the brain.

What do you plan to teach at USD?

Teaching for me is the best way of learning, exploring and retaining, hence I want to teach courses in molecular, cellular and behavioral neuroscience (specifically behavioral neuroscience, biopsychology and animal behavior). I try to keep abreast of the latest research in these areas and hope to communicate that to students. For me research and teaching are intimately linked and it’s hard to think of behavioral neuroscience without understanding how we know what we know or what is completely unknown. I am also keen on teaching an advanced research methods/behavioral neuroscience lab course. In the near future I hope to obtain mentoring from USD faculty in becoming an effective teacher.

What do you plan to research at USD?

As a behavioral neuroscientist I have had a long standing interest in an organism’s ability to interact with its environment, evaluate choices and produce behavioral outputs. In addressing these complex biological problems I have and will continue to focus on small circuits with measurable behavioral outputs in organisms that can be genetically manipulated. My undergraduate, graduate & postdoctoral research has broadly focused on themes of stress, learning & memory, and sleep in model organisms. The accessibility of the fruit fly model to cellular and circuit level behavioral analysis complemented by novel physiological approaches is remarkable. At, USD I hope to foster a healthy environment for creativity, collaboration, and training to unravel the mechanisms by which innate and learned behaviors are generated in model organisms like the fruit fly.

What are you looking forward to when at USD?

So much!! First and foremost I love working with students. I love the enthusiasm, curiosity, and skepticism students bring. Second, I am excited to be part of the Psychological Sciences department. The brain and behavior are multifaceted and need to be understood and studied in an integrative way. I hope to closely work with the faculty in the department to succeed as a researcher and teacher. Last but not the least San Diego, it’s truly love at first sight. The fact that San Diego has a stellar Neuroscience community is an added bonus.


Department of Psychology
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