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Associate Professor/Associate Chair for Research

Department of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Gilmartin received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Penn State College of Medicine in 2007 working in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew McEchron. She completed her post-doctoral training with Dr. Fred Helmstetter at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee prior to joining the faculty at Marquette University in 2013.


Dr. Gilmartin and her team study how fear memories are formed in the brain. 

Fear helps keep us safe.  Learning about threatening situations allows us to develop strategies to avoid or cope with potential harm in the future.  However, for some individuals, fearful memories born out of trauma can become debilitating, as in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and effective treatments remain elusive.  Thus there is a need to better understand 1) how fear memories are formed in the brain and 2) what changes in the brain lead to susceptibility or resilience to maladaptive fear memories. Moreover, women are twice as likely as men to develop fear and anxiety disorders but the neurobiological basis of this difference is unknown.   


We therefore use electrophysiological, optogenetic, and molecular approaches in rodent fear learning models to determine how multiple brain areas interact to combine different elements of an aversive experience into memory.  We then examine how sex, stress, and experience affects the strength and persistence of these memories. 


Team members: 

  • Graduate Student: Kevin Grisales

  • Technician: Matthew LaViola  

  • Undergraduates: Emma Eshoo, Shannyn Paguia, Mia Rossi, Isabel Royz, Blake Sadorf, Grace Schamber, Julie Schultz

Current Projects: 


  • Hippocampal contributions to cued fear memory 

  • Sex differences in brain circuits supporting fear learning 

  • Modulation of fear memory encoding by circulating sex hormones


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