C. Nicole Sunnen, PhD

C. Nicole Sunnen, PhD

C. Nicole Sunnen PhD

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences


BSc Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Guelph

PhD Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine

Postdoctoral Fellow, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

IRACDA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania

Research Interests

  • Molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopment and disease
  • Epilepsy
  • STEM education, particularly learning-centered teaching as well as the development and implementation of discovery-based curricula

I am available as a graduate thesis committee member, literary research advisor, or secondary research advisor to both graduate and undergraduate students.  I am unavailable to serve as a primary research advisor or mentor.


My graduate and postdoctoral research focused on the molecular and genetic causes of abnormal brain development.  These aberrations often lead to pediatric epilepsy, intellectual disability, and other disorders in human patients, and our research was designed, in part, to identify novel therapies for these individuals.  As an IRACDA postdoctoral scholar, I also taught courses in Anatomy and Physiology at Delaware County Community College, and Translational Neuroscience at Rutgers-Camden.  I believe that science is a way of thinking that can be applied to all disciplines, and that learning is an active process – just like science!  Currently, I teach Functional Human Anatomy & Histology, as well as the discovery-based and HHMI-coordinated SEA-PHAGES freshman biology lab.

Selected Scholarly Activity

Selected Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Workshops and Presentations

*Sunnen, C.N. and *Blumberg, P. “Introduction to Problem-based learning (PBL) and experience it yourself as a learner.” Workshop at USciences Faculty Enrichment Series. Philadelphia, PA. May 2016. *these authors contributed equally

*Sunnen, C.N., and *Frausto, S.F. “Teaching students to think like research scientists without entering the laboratory.” Workshop at the IRACDA Conference. Atlanta, GA. June 2013. *these authors contributed equally

Selected Research Articles and Presentations

Sunnen, C.N. “Modeling Neurological Diseases” Presentation at Delaware County Community College STEM Speaker Series. Media, PA.  March 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjMZtA3qTGo

Sunnen, C.N., Simonet, J.C., Marsh, E.D., Golden, J.A. “Arx is required for specification of the zona incerta and reticular nucelus of the thalamus.” Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 73(3):253-61 (2014)

Kazdoba, T.M., Sunnen, C.N., Crowell, B., Lee, G.H., Anderson, A.E., D’Arcangelo, G. “Development and characterization of NEX-Pten, a novel forebrain excitatory neuron-specific knockout mouse.”  Developmental Neuroscience 34(2-3):198-209 (2012)

Sunnen, C.N., Brewster, A.L., Lugo, J.N., Vanegas, F., Turcios, E., Mukhi, S., Parghi, D., D’Arcangelo, G., Anderson, A.E. “Inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin blocks epilepsy progression in NS-Pten conditional knockout mice.” Epilepsia 52(11):2065-75 (2011)

*†Ljungberg, M.C., *Sunnen, C.N., Lugo, J.N., Anderson, A.E., D'Arcangelo, G. “Rapamycin suppresses seizures and neuronal hypertrophy in a mouse model of cortical dysplasia.” Dis Model Mech 2:389-398. (2009) *these authors contributed equally; †selected as cover article

Contact Information

Office location: McNeil Science & Technology Center, Room 376
Mailing address: Box #38
University of Sciences
600 South 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495
Office Phone: 215-596-7420

c [dot] sunnen [at] usciences [dot] edu