Mary Lynn Schneider, PhD, OTR
Mary Lynn Schneider, PhD, OTR

Mary Lynn Schneider, PhD, OTR


Dr. Schneider is Professor, Departments of Kinesiology and Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her research statement reads:    
Our research program focuses on behavioral and neurobiological effects from fetal alcohol exposure alone or in combination with prenatal stress. We study rhesus monkeys, examining growth and development, learning and memory, and stress reactivity across the life span. We also use state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques to elucidate possible abnormalities in neural processing. We assess dopamine system function, using positron emission tomography, to determine whether altered DA function might underlie some of the motor, learning, and neuroendocrine outcomes associated with these prenatal treatments. We have recently expanded our nonhuman primate model to examine the neurochemical and developmental basis for sensory regulation disorders and risk factors for excessive alcohol consumption in adulthood. Our work is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (Retrieved on September 16, 215 from https://www.waisman.wisc.edu/pi-Schneider-Mary.htm.)


How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I think that making a difference in the world is a tall order. I developed the only existing primate model for the study of prenatal alcohol exposure, prenatal stress, and sensory processing disorder, conditions highly relevant to occupational therapy practice.  I hope that my work will contribute to detailed understandings of brain pathways and neuroadaptations regulated by dopamine and serotonin -- understandings that will potentially aid in the development of new targets for prevention and interventions. My work is designed to address a fundamental gap in understanding how prenatal conditions and genotype induce mental health and alcohol disorders.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Find the best mentor  —  someone who is doing what you would like to do someday and spend as much time shadowing/volunteering with this person as feasible.

Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
Intervention research with cutting edge assessments, including state-of-the-art brain neuroimaging. Investigate how certain genotypes interact with intervention outcomes, such that some individuals respond better than others. Tailor the intervention to the genotype and brain function.
Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.  
Mentors are critical.  Ginny Scardina was my first mentor -- she was an extraordinary OT/human being. She taught me so much and inspired me for life.  

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Meditation and mindfulness is the most important occupation in my life.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
The people I have met have been extraordinary. I have made lifelong friends within the context of pursuing research and science.


Converse, AK, Moore, CF, Holden, JE, Ahlers, EO, Moirano, JM, Larson, JA, Resch, LM, DeJesus, OT, Barnhart, TE, Nickles, RJ, Murali, D, Christian, BT & Schneider, ML.  (2014). Moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure induces sex differences in dopamine d1 receptor binding in adult rhesus monkeys.  Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38, 2934-2943.

Schneider, ML, Larson, JA, Rypstat, CW, Resch, LM, Roberts, A & Moore, CF.  (2013). Moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure enhances acoustic startle magnitude and disrupts prepulse inhibition in adult rhesus monkeys. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37, 1729-1736.  

Wooten, DW, Hillmer, AT, Murali, D, Barnhart, TE, Thio, JP, Bajwa, AK, Bonab, AA, Normandin, MD, Schneider, ML, Mukherjee, J & Christian, BT.  (2014). Initial in vivo PET imaging of 5-HT1A receptors with 3-[(18)F]mefway.  American Journal of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging,  4, 483-489.

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