Melissa Birkett, PhD

Melissa Birkett Associate Professor
Northern Arizona University
Blg 60 Rm #325
Phone: 928-523-0118

PhD Neuroscience and Behavior, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2007
MEd Secondary Education, Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2005
BA Psychology, Concentration in Biopsychology, Cornell University, 2001

Professional interests

Dr. Birkett’s current research interests include various aspects of anxiety disorders and their treatment. At Northern Arizona University, she looks forward to working collaboratively to examine physiological measures of anxiety within a university population.

Her goal of her future research is to better understand how people respond to stressful situations (through measures such as heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone release) and what factors may be involved in regulating these responses.

Recent publications

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Birkett, M., Johnson, L., and Gelety, C. (2016) Investigation of sex differences in sIgA response to the Trier Social Stress Test. Stress & Health, Online pre publication doi: 10.1002/smi.2680.
  • Collier, A. F., Wayment, H. A., Birkett, M. (2016).  Impact of Making Textile Handcrafts on Mood Enhancement and Inflammatory Immune Changes. Art Therapy, doi: 10.1080/07421656.2016.1226647 
  • Wayment, H. A., Collier, A. F., Birkett, M., Traustadóttir, T., Till, R. E. (2015). Brief quiet ego contemplation reduces oxidative stress and mind-wandering. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1481. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01481 <http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01481
  • Piper, B., Gray, H., Corbett, S., Birkett, M., Raber, J. (2014). Executive function and mental health in adopted children with a history of recreational drug exposures. PLoS ONE, 9, 10, e110459. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110459 <http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110459
  • Piper, B., Gray, H. M., Raber, J., Birkett, M. (2014). Reliability and validity of Brief Problem Monitor, an abbreviated form of the Child Behavior Checklist. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 68,10, 759-767. 
  • Greene, T., Redding, C., Birkett, M. (2014). Exposure to rat visual, olfactory or combined stimuli in co-housing does not increase stress-related physiology or behavior in C57BL/J6NCrt mice. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 53, 6, 647-652.
  • Birkett, M. (2013). Self-compassion and empathy across cultures: Comparison of young adults in China and the United States. International Journal of Research Studies in Psychology 3, 3, 25-34.
  • Birkett, M., Hughes, A. (2013). Librarian and Faculty Member Partnership to Promote Psychology Students' use of Research Resources. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 12, 1, 96-100.
  • Birkett, M. (2012). Use of anxiolytic natural products by college students.Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18, 6, 1-2.
  • Birkett, M. A., Neff, L., Pieper, S. (2012). Using personal interest portfolios to promote engagement and improve student learning in a large introductory course. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 23, 2, 49-67.
  • Birkett, M. A., Shelton, K.* (2011). Participating in an introductory neuroscience course decreases neuroscience anxiety. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 10(1), A37-A43.
  • Birkett, M. A. (2011). The Trier Social Stress Test protocol for inducing psychological stress. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 56, e3238.DOI:10.3791/3238.
  • Piper, B. J., Gray, H.M.*, Birkett, M.A. (2011). Maternal smoking cessation and reduced academic and behavioral problems in offspring. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 121(1-2), 62-67.
  • Birkett, M. A., Shinday, N. M., Kessler E. J.*, Meyer, J. S., Ritchie, S.*, Rowlett, J. K. (2011). Acute anxiogenic-like effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are attenuated by the benzodiazepine diazepam in BALB/c mice.Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 98(4), 544-551.
  • Birkett, M. A. (2009). Every cell counts: An inquiry-based approach to address a novel research question in an undergraduate neuroscience lab.Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 7(2): A53-A64.
  • Piper B, Gray H, Corbett S, Birkett M, Raber J. (2014). Executive function and mental health in adopted children with a history of recreational drug exposures. PLoS One, 9, 10, e110459.
  • Piper B, Gray HM, Raber J, Birkett M. (2014). Reliability and validity of Brief Problem Monitor, an abbreviated form of the Child Behavior Checklist. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 68,10, 759-767.
  • Greene T, Redding C, Birkett M. (2014). Exposure to rat visual, olfactory or combined stimuli in co-housing does not increase stress-related physiology or behavior in C57BL/J6NCrt mice.Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 53, 6, 647-652.
  • Birkett M. (2013). Self-compassion and empathy across cultures: Comparison of young adults in China and the United States. International Journal of Research Studies in Psychology 3, 3, 25-34.
  • Piper BJ, Gray HM, Birkett MA. (2012) Maternal smoking cessation and reduced academic and behavioral problems in offspring. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 121, 1, 62-67.

Other Scholarly Publications 

  • Birkett, M. (forthcoming) Why does it feel so good to care for others, but only sometimes for myself? Neuroendocrine manifestations of empathy, compassion, and self-compassion. In L. Stevens and C. C. Woodruff (Eds.), Exploring the Neuroscience of Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Compassion. Elsevier. 
  • Carlson, N., Birkett, M. (2016). Physiology of Behavior, 12e. New York, New York: Pearson. 
  • Birkett, M. (2016). NXSW: Cultural Legacies in Education. In S. D. Longerbeam and A. F. Chávez (Eds.), Going inward: The role of cultural introspection in college teaching. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. 
  • Faculty Advisor for: Johnson, L. (2016). Effects of an Educational Intervention on Ratings of Criminality, Violence, and Trustworthiness based on Facial Expressions. Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, 1, 1-21. 
  • Birkett, M. (2015). Teaching Neuroscience: Practical Activities for an Engaged Classroom. Retrieved from the Society for Teaching Psychology website: http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/teachingneuroscience <http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/teachingneuroscience>
  • Birkett, M., Neff, L., Pieper, S. (2013). Portfolios in psychology classes: Dispelling myths. The APS Observer, 26, 2. Accessible online.
  • Demir, M., Birkett, M., Dickson, K. L., Miller, M. (2012). Psychological Science in Action: Applying psychology to everyday issues. Cognella publishing.
  • Birkett, M., Dickson, K. L. (2012). Study Guide for The Power of Habit. Why we do what we do in life and business. By Charles Duhigg. Random House.
  • Hughes, A., Birkett, M. (2011). Assessing an academic partnership between a librarian and faculty member: Influence on student use of research resources. New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountabilitynewsletter; Perspectives and Practice, October, 2011. Accessible online.
  • The Psychology of Food - A Freshman Seminar Class. Access the video for the Hungerbanquet.
  • Psychology Undergraduate Research - A video on stress research.
  • The Trier Social Stress Test Protocol for Inducing Psychological Stress.
  • Piper BJ, Parkhurst DK,* Greenhalgh J,* Gelety C,* Birkett, M. (2015). A neurobehavioral comparison of the Psychological Assessment Resources and the PEBL versions of the Iowa Gambling Task in college students. PEBL Technical Report Series. Accessible online
  • Birkett M, Dickson KL. (2015). Study Guide for Think Like a Freak: The authors of Freakonomics offer to retrain your brain. By Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Random House.
  • Birkett M. (2015). Teaching Psychology: A step-by-step guide. Book Review. Psychology Learning and Teaching. In press.
  • Birkett M. (2014). Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. Book Review. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 13, 2, 159-161
  • Birkett M. (2014). Society for Teaching Psychology eBook proposal accepted (publication in spring 2015). Teaching Neuroscience: Practical Activities for an Engaged Classroom.
  • Parkhurst DK,* Gelety C,* Greenhalgh J.* Birkett, M. (2014). Differences in affective decision-making between types of drinkers assessed by two versions of the Iowa gambling Task. PEBL Technical Report Series. Accessible online 

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

Dr. Birkett regularly teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in neuroscience and psychopharmacology. She also teaches first year seminars related to neuroscience as well as the psychology teaching practicum.