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Current Lab Members

Team: Our Team

Dayna Loyd Averitt, MSCI, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Averitt received her bachelors in Biological Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001. She completed her doctorate in Neuroscience from Georgia State University in 2009 under the mentorship of Anne Z. Murphy, Ph.D. studying sex differences in opioid analgesia. She then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Ken Hargreaves, DDS, Ph.D. studying peripheral pain mechanisms underlying craniofacial pain. Dr. Averitt worked as a Principle Investigator for the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research studying burn pain before joining the faculty at Texas Woman's University in 2014. Dr. Averitt is currently an Associate Professor of Biology at Texas Woman's University where she is leading a research team of undergraduate and graduate students in neuroscience research.

Link to Curriculum Vitae


Sukhbir Kaur, Ph.D.

Recent Graduate Student

Sukhbir Kaur received an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from Pune University and MS in Medical Biotechnology from Maharaja Sayajirao University, India. In Aug 2015, she relocated to the United States to pursue her doctorate degree. She recently completed her doctoral studies to gain her Ph.D. Her dissertation work focused on understanding the neuromodulatory effects of estrogen and serotonin on female trigeminal sensory neurons. Sukhbir is currently working at Advanced Cell Diagnostics as a Field Application Scientist.


Daisy Cantu, M.S.

Doctoral Student

I graduated from Martin High School in Laredo, Texas, in 2014. Then, I attended Texas Woman's University (TWU) in 2014, where I obtained my B.S. in biology in 2018. I also received a master's degree in biology at TWU during the summer of 2020. I am now working on my doctorate degree, which I am expecting to complete by 2023. My current research focuses on identifying craniofacial and cortical brain pathways in males and females. I also aim to determine whether hormones and psychological stress alter these neural processes differently in males vs. female rats. This research is significant because most current studies in pain and stress are exclusively conducted on male rats. However, understanding female neural circuitry activity is vital for developing sex-specific therapeutic strategies to treat women's pain.


Taylor Hickman, M.S.

Doctoral Student

Hi! I’m Taylor Hickman, a native Texan, but spent some time in Oklahoma. I received a Bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University in Exercise and Sport Science in 2013. After several years out of school I realized I wasn’t done with my education, and I enrolled at Texas Woman’s University where I earned a Master’s degree in Biology in 2020. I am currently a doctoral candidate in Dr. Averitt’s lab investigating how the interaction between the immune and nervous systems can cause a greater female prevalence in certain pain disorders.


Temiloluwa Peace Olaoluwa, B.Sc.

Doctoral Student

My name is Peace Olaoluwa. In 2017, I graduated with my BSc in Physical and Biological Sciences from Cottey College, in Nevada, MO. I worked in the food and medical industry as a part of the Quality Department for 3 years before joining Texas Woman’s University’s Molecular Biology PhD program. I am currently a graduate student in the Averitt lab working on developing the phytochemicals in the native Texas plant Euphorbia bicolor as a non-opioid therapeutic for burn pain.


Undergraduate Reseachers

Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology Bachelors Students

Sonia Adhikari
Daniela Leyva Zaldivar
Emily Keene
Kyla Podges
Lianna Jacob
Laura Lugo


Lab Alumni

Team: Our Team

Rebecca Hornung, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Laboratory of Phillip Kramer, Ph.D. at Texas A&M Dentistry


Paramita Basu, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Laboratory of Brad Taylor, Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh



Recent Lab Alum

Lauren Lockhart, Michael Paul Hunter, Angela Lopez-Ramirez, Anusha Adhikari, Natalia Santos, Erica Rodriguez, Emily Simmons, Estefany Montelongo, Hanna McDonald, Taylor Harris, Sushmitha Ananth, Sirima Tongkhuya, Cierra Lopez


High Schoolers

Off to change the world

Alexis Barton, Hansa Boddu, Tia Tewari

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