Research/Areas of Interest: Dr. Byrnes received her PhD in Neuroscience from The Ohio State University working with Dr. John Bruno to study the neurodevelopmental effects of dopamine deficiency. She then received additional postdoctoral training as a NIH fellow in Neuroimmunology (OSU) and Neuroendocrinology (Tufts University). Taking a somewhat uncommon career path, Dr. Byrnes maintained a part-time Research Assistant Professor position at the Cummings School for almost 10 years while her caring for her four children. In 2009 she was appointed to an Assistant Professor position and went on to develop a robust research program with a primary emphasis on neural and endocrine consequences of female opioid use. Dr. Byrnes has a long-standing interest in improving the translational value of animal models, particularly in the context of both age- and sex-specific effects. Outside of the lab her interests include both education and community outreach initiatives. In that capacity, she served as the Chair of the Decisions at Every Turn Coalition, a community-based youth substance abuse prevention coalition funded by a Federal Drug Free Communities grant. Additionally, Dr. Byrnes was the past President of the Boston Area Neuroscience Group, the local chapter of the Society for Neuroscience for the Boston area. Currently, she serves as the faculty advisor for the Gap Junction selective at the Cummings School, a veterinary medicine outreach program for middle school students from diverse backgrounds.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, USA, 1995
  • BA, University of Massachusetts, USA, 1991