School of Pharmacy News & Media Center
The University of Mississippi

Faculty Feature: Gregg Roman

Posted on: October 20th, 2021 by pmsmith

OXFORD, Miss.  Gregg Roman joined the School of Pharmacy in January 2021 as a professor of pharmacology in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. He also serves as director of the GlyCORE Imaging Core where he oversees the use of four imaging systems.

Roman may be a newer member of the pharmacy phamily, but he has been at Ole Miss for a bit longer. He first came to the university in 2016 and served as chair of the Department of Biology for four years.

Get to know Roman in this Q&A:

Gregg Roman

Gregg Roman

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the Northeast, but I have called Houston, Texas, home for the longest period. 

What is your educational & professional background?

I received a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Genetics from the University of New Hampshire, a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoctoral training in Molecular Neuroscience and Behavioral Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine. 

My first faculty position was at Baylor College of Medicine in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. I then moved to the University of Houston where I rose the ranks to full professor in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry. At the University of Houston, I was also the founding director of the Biology of Behavior Institute and the founding director of the Biology and Biochemistry Imaging Core. 

​​What brought you to the University of Mississippi?

I initially was recruited to the University of Mississippi as chair of biology. 

What do you do in your role as a faculty member?

I am currently involved in teaching Physiology and Neuroscience content in the School of Pharmacy. I have an active research program where we examine mechanisms of complex behaviors using a wide range of genetic and imaging approaches. One of my favorite activities in my faculty role is to work with students, undergraduate and graduate, in my lab to answer some of our burning scientific questions.  

What do you do in your role with GlyCORE?

I am the director of the GlyCORE Imaging Core. This core lab operates four different imaging systems, including a laser scanning confocal microscope. We assist users in the use of these instruments and help them get the best images possible to answer their particular scientific question.    

What drew you to the School of Pharmacy?

Having worked on campus, I was aware of the quality of faculty and resources found in the School of Pharmacy. The collegiality of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences was also very important to me. I looked forward to becoming one of the phamily.  

What are some of your career highlights?

I feel fortunate to have been involved in several foundational discoveries in both plant hormone signaling and in the molecular and neural mechanisms of complex behaviors including learning and memory. What made these discoveries highlights, however, is the opportunity I had to collaborate with exciting, brilliant and dedicated scientists. These scientists include many of my own students and postdocs. The shared excitement of new ideas and findings is so uplifting.   

How do you describe your work or research to people outside of the field?

I tell them that I use genetics to identify the molecules and neurons involved in different behaviors and understand their roles. It is a little bit like the game Jenga, where you have a bunch of blocks forming a tower. If you can remove a block and the tower still stands, then that block was not important for the tower’s integrity. Likewise, if you remove a gene or a neuron, and the behavior you are studying is unaffected, then it does not have an important role in the expression of that behavior. On the other hand, if you remove a gene or inhibit a neuron and it changes the behavior, then you know that behavior requires that gene’s or neuron’s activity.

My lab is interested in understanding the genes and neurons that are playing a role in complex behaviors and how they are doing that. We do this by altering their activities and measuring the impacts. The behaviors we are working hardest to understand include alcohol tolerance and self-administration, learning and memory, and exploration and arousal by novelty.

What do you hope students gain from their classroom experiences?

I hope students learn to love the intricacies of nervous system function and embrace its complexity. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love spending time with my family, traveling to new places, reading, listening to music and taking long walks. 

Anything else?

My favorite quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead