Brain, Behavior and the Environment Program

Advancing environmental neuroscience research in support of prevention, treatment and cures

One of FIU’s Emerging Preeminent Programs, the Brain, Behavior and the Environment program focuses on factors that affect brain health. The transdisciplinary initiative unites the dynamic and diverse neuroscience community at FIU toward three goals: to create and empower research programs focused on environmental causes of neurological disease; to devise strategies and develop therapies for neurological disorders using novel neuroscience and engineering tools as well as pharmacological approaches; and to establish a rich educational resource in South Florida to educate students, faculty, clinicians, the public and health officials on the role that environmental factors play on neurological disease.

Brain, Behavior and the Environment

The BBE program is ensuring that the trend in environmental-based brain research will continue well into the future by preparing the scientists who will one day take over. Students can pursue two different specialized master’s tracks in Brain, Behavior and the Environment available in addition to a doctoral degree.

It is only through a transformative, holistic, interdisciplinary and collaborative approach that the next breakthroughs in brain science will occur.

Tomás R. Guilarte, Dean of Stempel College


The work of our researchers focuses on finding the links between environmental factors and the growing epidemic of neurodegenerative diseases. Since the program’s inception, the BBE team, has attracted tens of millions of dollars in grant funding in support of its work, primarily from the National Institutes of Health.

Such substantial financial support drives home the growing need to examine both the causes as well as possible preventive and curative therapies for neurodegenerative disorders: An estimated 50 million people worldwide currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia; an estimated 10 million have Parkinson’s disease.

  • Brain Science and Neurotoxicology

    Research focused on:

    • the effects of environmental pollutants on neurological and mental disease
    • environmental exposure and its interaction with genetic susceptibility as contributors to neurological disease
    • neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative impacts of occupational and environmental exposure to neurotoxicant


    • Tomas Guilarte, Ph.D., Dean & Professor, Public Health
    • Jason Richardson, Ph.D., Associate Dean & Professor, Public Health
    • Roberto Lucchini, M.D., Professor, Public Health
  • Pathogenic Mechanisms and Therapeutic Strategies for Neurodegenerative Diseases

    Research focused on:

    • neuronal dysfunction and degeneration in Parkinson’s disease
    • mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease and ALS
    • discovery of new targets to treat brain disorders
    • molecular and cellular mechanisms of neurotoxicity underlying the processes of neurodegeneration
    • disruption of hippocampal neurogenesis
    • investigating cognitive dysfunction using state-of-the-art morphological, molecular, and behavioral techniques


    • Kim Tieu, Ph.D., Chair & Professor, Public Health
    • Xugang Xia, Ph.D., Professor, Public Health
    • Hongxia Zhou, Ph.D., Professor, Public Health
    • Mohammed Hossain, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Public Health
  • Biomedical Engineering & Therapeutic and Reparative Neurotechnology

    Research focused on:

    Research in Therapeutic and Reparative Neurotechnology focuses on

    • developing biologically inspired, neural-enabled wireless, implantable technologies to repair and promote recovery of lost function after trauma or disease.
    • behavioral studies, electrophysiology techniques, computational neuroscience, machine learning in support of such technologies
    • developing devices that lead to scientific advances with clear pathways to clinical application.


    • Jorge Riera, Ph.D., Professor, Biomedical Engineering
    • Ranu Jung, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, Biomedical Engineering
    • Zachary Danziger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Brain Mapping & Cognition

    Research focused on:

    • neurobiological mechanisms of cognition and mental health disorders
    • interventions for adolescents
    • impact of drug abuse on human brain function
    • intersensory perception in animal sand human infants
    • neurobiological mechanisms that support learning and memory
    • analytic strategies for improving investigations into functional brain networks
    • effects and mechanisms of environmental toxicants on repeat expansion neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease and Friedreich’s ataxia


    • Timothy Allen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Psychology
    • Dana McMakin, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychology
    • Matthew Sutherland, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychology
    • Robert Lickliter, Ph.D., Professor, Psychology
    • Aaron Mattfeld, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychology
    • Angela Laird, Ph.D., Professor, Physics
    • Yuan Liu, Ph.D., Professor, Biology