University of Texas at El Paso
Psychology Department
Katherine Serafine    

Dr. Katherine M. Serafine
Personal Information    

Ph.D., American University (2012)

Assistant Professor

Behavioral Pharmacology Lab
Research Interests    

Research in Dr. Serafine’s behavioral pharmacology laboratory focuses on the different factors that contribute to individual differences in vulnerability to drug abuse. To investigate these factors, Dr. Serafine uses preclinical models to investigate how factors such as age, sex and diet impact sensitivity to drugs of abuse like cocaine. Drug sensitivity is assessed using behavioral pharmacological models ranging from unconditioned behavior (e.g., locomotion) to more complex behaviors using classical and operant conditioning (e.g., conditioned place preference, drug discrimination, or intravenous self-administration). Students in the laboratory will receive hands on training on how to run behavioral experiments that help answer important questions about abuse vulnerability. Dr. Serafine’s current research interests include studying how diets high in fat or sugar change individual sensitivity to cocaine and other drugs that act on dopamine systems, as well as the impact of diet on sensitivity to alcohol. Dr. Serafine is also interested in considering differential impact of age, sex and diet on sensitivity to prescription drugs such as antidepressants and drugs used to treat obesity.

Sample Publications    

Serafine KM, Rice KC, France CP. (2015) Directly observable behavioral effects of lorcaserin in rats. Journal of Pharmacol Exp Ther, 355: 381-385. PMID: 26384326

Serafine KM, Bentley TA, Kilborn DJ, Koek W, France CP. (2015) Drinking sucrose or saccharin enhances sensitivity of rats to quinpirole-induced yawning. Eur J Pharmacol, 764: 529-536. PMID: 26189020

Serafine KM, Bentley TA, Koek W, France CP. (2014) Eating high fat chow, but not drinking sucrose or saccharin, enhances the development of sensitization to the locomotor effects of cocaine in adolescent female rats. Behav Pharmacol, 26: 321-325. PMID: 25485647

Serafine KM, Bentley TA, Grenier AE, France CP. (2014) Eating high fat chow and the behavioral effects of direct- and indirect-acting dopamine receptor agonists in female rats. Behav Pharmacol, 25:287-295. PMID: 24949571

Serafine KM, France CP. (2014) Restricted access to standard or high fat chow alters sensitivity of rats to the 5-HT2A/2C receptor agonist 1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylphenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOM). Behav Pharmacol, 25:44-52. PMID: 24346289

Contact Information

Phone: 915-747-6566
Fax: 915-747-6553

216B Psychology Building
Department of Psychology
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso TX 79968


PSYC 1301  Introduction to Psychology
PSYC 6315  Psychopharmacology
Other Resources