Our Trainees assist researchers in finding results in the latest area of addiction research.


Nikki J Clauss, PhD

Department of Physiology

Dr. Clauss is a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Lynette Daws investigating organic cation transporter 3 as a potential target for the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of addiction to amphetamine and related drugs of abuse. She is broadly interested in the modulation of neurophysiological processes and behavioral phenotypes in response to early developmental stress exposure.


  • Neurophysiological Processes
  • Behavioral Phenotypes
  • Early Development Stress Exposure


Dr. Clauss received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Wisconsin in Green Bay, where she worked with Dr. Christine Smith assessing sex differences in aggression. She went on to complete a terminal master’s degree in psychological science at Northern Arizona University, where her interests and research began to shift to biological psychology. During her time at NAU, her research focused on eating behavior and obesity. She worked with a team led by Dr. Ann Collier developing an evidenced-based obesity reduction program for Palauan youth, and completed her thesis on the relationship between PTSD and binge eating behavior. Dr. Clauss went on to complete her Ph.D. in psychology with a focus on neurobiology at Oklahoma State University under the mentorship of Dr. Jennifer Byrd-Craven. Here, she was able to explore the neurobiological underpinnings of stress and eating behavior and work in a multidisciplinary environment, where she developed expertise in comparative and developmental psychology, psychoneuroendocrinology, and data analysis. She completed research on acute and chronic stress and eating behavior with human subjects, as well as research on developmental stress and eating behavior in mice. Her dissertation explored the impact of prenatal stress and diet on offspring neural gene expression and behavioral phenotypes using a mouse model. The behavioral similarities between binge eating behavior and other addiction-related behaviors led to her interest in drug addiction research. As a T32 postdoctoral trainee, her goal is to further develop her expertise in behavioral neuroscience, while simultaneously learning to implement new experimental techniques to explore her research questions.


Clauss N & Byrd-Craven J (2019). Exposure to a sex-specific stressor mitigates sex differences in stress-induced eating. Physiol Behav. PMID30684589.

Calvi J, Rankin A, Clauss N, & Byrd-Craven J. (2019). The nuanced psychology of the Handmaids Tale. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 14(1), 63–78.

Byrd-Craven J, Clauss N. (2019). The Psychobiology of Family Dynamics: Bidirectional Relationships with Adrenocortical Attunement. In: Harrist A., Gardner B. (eds) Biobehavioral Markers in Risk and Resilience Research. Emerging Issues in Family and Individual Resilience. Springer, Cham.

Clauss N, Byrd-Craven J, Kennison S, & Chua K. (2017). The role of mothers’ partner satisfaction and mother-infant communication duration in mother-infant adrenocortical attunement. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 1 – 17.

Clauss N, Rankin A, & Byrd-Craven J. (2017). Meta-analysis of sex differences in aggression. In T.K. Shackelford and V.A. Weekes-Shackelford’s Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (pp 1-5).

Clauss N & Rankin A. (2017). Maternal malnourishment. In T.K. Shackelford and V.A. Weekes-Shackelford’s Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science (pp 1 – 3).