WC Young Recent Graduate Award

2020 Award Winner: Jon Cavanaugh, PhD

Jon Cavanaugh graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Biology from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and then received his M.A. and PhD degrees in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

As a graduate student, he published 14 papers (seven as first author) on the endocrine regulation of social behavior in marmoset monkeys. Jon published several papers on the endocrine regulation of parental care and the relationship between stress and sociality. His primary focus was on the oxytocinergic regulation of relationships between adult male and female marmosets, where his work revealed that oxytocin promotes social and sexual fidelity among pairmates through a number of mechanisms. Prominent among these is an oxytocin-dependent reduction in interactions and attraction to strangers, as opposed to the enhancement of within-pair sociality.

Jon is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Kyle Smith at Dartmouth College. He is continuing to explore the neural bases of social functioning by characterizing how early exposure to social stress impacts motivation for social rewards later in life.