William Smith student studies substance abuse This summer, Regina Triplett ’10 will spend most of her time trying to discern the feelings of rats. Participating in a research-based program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Neuroscience, Triplett’s project will study the chemical reactions that are linked with substance abuse, especially cocaine addiction. Scientists in the program will spend the summer examining the interaction between dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is often found in high levels in cocaine addicts, and a sequence of inert (non-contagious) amino acids found in the HIV virus. Triplett will test dopamine interactions in lab rats by placing them in different environments and observing their reactions after they’ve received the amino acid injections. Her experiments are designed to test whether the protein interaction might help break cocaine addictions. “This research is building foundation knowledge,” says Triplett. “It may lead to a drug that would help people suffering from substance abuse.” Triplett, a biology major, hopes to pursue a career in neurology or neuroscience. While on campus, she has been an active volunteer with HWS Responds, traveling to New Orleans twice with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.