Alexis Edwards Receives Student Mentor Award

Alexis Edwards, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. She has always been interested in behavior and completed her Ph.D. in Genetics, working with model systems of aggression. However, she then realized she could translate her work to human behavior. Therefore, her professional and personal passion for understanding the genetic and environmental influences on psychiatric illness led her to pursue her postdoctoral training at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, where she became an Assistant Professor in 2012.

Dr. Edwards’ current research interests involve alcohol use disorder and internalizing disorders, both independently of one another and in shared genetic and environmental liabilities between the two. Her work includes basic epidemiology of these disorders as well as genetic influences. Currently, she works primarily with the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to investigate the genetic influences on alcohol use and problems and Swedish registry data to examine alcohol problems in the whole population, including genetic influences and medical consequences of alcohol use.

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

Albert Einstein

Because of Dr. Edwards’ dedication to mentoring trainees, she was recently awarded the VIPBG mentor award. Although she does not officially have any students, Dr. Edwards has initiated a directed readings course, where she informally mentors all of the PBSG students at once. During the course, students are provided a safe and supportive place to discuss classic and current research papers and ask questions. In addition, Dr. Edwards acts as an advocate for both students and post-doctoral fellows, provides hands-on support across a range of analytic methods, and offers career development advice. In response to the award, Dr. Edwards says she is “touched, grateful, and pleased to see that trainees have benefited from her efforts.” Because VIPBG was originally founded as a research institute rather than a training institute, transitioning to a training institute that houses a Ph.D. program is “important and requires commitment,” she says.

Beyond research and mentoring, Dr. Edwards enjoys running, gardening, hiking, and traveling. She also enjoys exploring Richmond with her husband, Vincent, and spending time with their cat, Oblio.


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