Gina Marie Fernandez

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Gina Marie Fernandez


My fascination with the brain and its pivotal role in behavior began during an undergraduate biopsychology course, where the instructor began the semester by claiming that the "brain is the most important organ in your body." That simple statement fueled my curiosity, as well as my future education and research interests. During graduate school, I learned to employ animal models as a proxy for the long term effects adolescent drug exposure can have on the nervous system. This work led to a postdoctoral research position at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, where I continued to learn how animal models can help us understand the effects of adolescent drug exposure on higher order processes, such as cognitive flexibility. During my training, I came to realize that along with learning about the brain, I also enjoyed sharing that knowledge with others. My combined research and teaching interests brought me to SMCM, where I currently examine the combined effects of nicotine and alcohol exposure on the developing brain. Utilizing rodent models of learning and memory, as well as stress and anxiety, my lab explores the combined, long- term effects of these drugs on behavior and neuronal structure. 

Areas of Research Specialization

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurobiology of Substance Abuse
  • Animal Models of Learning & Memory

Areas of Teaching Specialization

  • Physiological & Sensory Psychology
  • Psychological Research, Analysis, & Writing
  • Drugs, Brain, and Behavior

External Affiliations


  • B.S. in Psychology at College of William and Mary, 2008
  • M.A. in Psychology at George Mason University, 2011
  • Ph.D. in Psychology at George Mason University, 2014