Dr. Melissa Reneaux
Reneaux is an Assistant Professor and presently the Programme Lead for the Psychology and Behaviour program at the School of Liberal Studies. She is a physicist by training and uses principles of physics and mathematics to understand neuropsychiatric disorders like depression and schizophrenia. She did her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in physics at the reputed St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. Further, she completed her doctoral research in computational neuroscience at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, under the supervision of Prof. Karmeshu and Dr. A. Krishnamachari. During her Ph.D., she investigated the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine and its associated dopaminergic D1 receptors in working memory, a core mental faculty, impaired in schizophrenia. She went on to work as a postdoctoral research associate in the world-renowned Clopath Lab at the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London and subsequently in the Pinotsis Lab at the Department of Psychology, City-University of London. In her postdoctoral research, she worked towards understanding how stress-associated bodily inflammation leads to depression. Her research has been published in several reputed international journals including Cell Reports and Journal of Neuroinflammation. She has received many awards and honours in recognition of her research work.
Areas of Interests: Neuroscience
Teaching: Psychology and Behaviour
Dr. Reneaux joined UPES as an Assistant Professor in August 2022. Before joining UPES, she was a postdoctoral researcher in the Clopath Lab at Imperial College London. Here, she developed a data-constrained dynamical model of the histamine-serotonin interplay to gain causal insights into stress-induced depression. She also supervised a Master’s thesis on how valence shapes hippocampal spatial navigation that was published in Cell Reports. Subsequently, she worked in the Pinotsis Lab at City-University of London where she developed a dynamical mean-field model to address how peripheral inflammation causes depression. At City, she also delivered lectures and seminars to undergraduate students.
Neuropsychiatric Disorders I Depression I Working Memory I Suicidal Ideation I Gender Violence
Dr. Reneaux has a keen interest in understanding the neural basis of neuropsychiatric disorders. Her research work involves constructing mathematical models to address the mechanistic underpinnings underlying impairments observed in depression and schizophrenia. In addition to her research on neuropsychiatric disorders, she is also actively involved in investigating factors contributing to suicidal ideation in young Indian adults. She is also engaged in studying factors underlying gender-based violence on Indian university campuses. Through her research, she aims towards improving mental health and a foster safe university environment.
Dr. Reneaux believes in problem-solving-based teaching. She understands the importance of connecting classroom concepts to real-life situations, allowing students to see the relevance and practicality of what they are learning. To enhance student engagement, she breaks down complex concepts into simpler terms, making them easier for students to understand. She uses innovative assessment methods that encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, Dr. Reneaux brings her research knowledge into the classroom ensuring that students are exposed to the most up-to-date information and understand the relevance of research in their field of study.
Dr. Reneaux has taught courses like Statistical Methods in Psychology, Brain and Behaviour and, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience to undergraduate students. She has also been involved in supervising postgraduate students’ dissertations.
Awards and Grants
Dr. Reneaux has been a good scholar throughout. As an undergraduate physics honours student at St. Stephen’s College she received the Meera Memorial Scholarship for academic excellence and the Mukarji Memorial Prize for regular work, qualities of perseverance, industry and plain living. During her postgraduate studies at University of Delhi, she was the recipient of the Meritorious Student Award, the Virendra Kumar Memorial Scholarship, for the highest marks in Master’s First Year and the Meera Memorial Award for academic excellence. For her doctoral research, she was awarded research fellowship from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India.
Dr. Reneaux’s research journey began during her undergraduate years with a summer internship in biological physics at the Harish Chandra Institute followed by another internship at IIT Madras. Her research work focussed on understanding the response of the bacterium Escherichia coli towards a weak chemical gradient. This work was published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, a feat accomplished by very few students during undergraduate training. Subsequently, in her postgraduate dissertation at the University of Delhi she investigated the genetic underpinnings underlying rheumatoid arthritis using large-scale genomic data. Further, her doctoral research focused on understanding working memory deficits caused by dopamine imbalance. Since then, she has been involved in understanding the neuronal factors involved in neuropsychiatric disorders like depression.
Dr. Reneaux has regularly delivered public lectures on mental health and anxiety to students across India on various online platforms. A highlight in her research career was when she presented her research in Prof. Karl Friston’s lab, an outstanding neuroscientist. She has received funding from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and UK Research and Innovation to conduct her research works. Presently, her research focuses on factors underlying suicidal ideation and gender-based violence in young adolescents in India.