Ethan Beckley, Ph.D.

Ph.D. Graduate (2009)


Undergraduate Education 

BA with Honors in Psychology, California State University, Chico, 2003 

Training at the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU 



Neuroanatomical and behavioral correlates of progesterone withdrawal 



Selected grants

  • Dissertation Research Award, American Psychological Association, 2008
  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Institute of Mental Health, 2007-2009
  • Nancy and Dodd Fischer Scholarship, ARCS Foundation, Portland Chapter, 2005-2008 

Selected publications

Beckley EH, & Finn DA (2007) Inhibition of progesterone metabolism mimics the effect of progesterone withdrawal on forced swim test immobility. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 87, 412-419.

Belknap JK, Metten P, Beckley EH, & Crabbe JC (2008) Multivariate analyses reveal common and drug-specific genetic influences on responses to four drugs of abuse. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 29, 537-543.

Beckley EH, Scibelli AC, & Finn DA (2011) Progesterone receptor antagonist CDB-4124 increases depression-like behavior in mice without affecting locomotor ability. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36, 824-833.


I have always been interested in creating a better world. I believe that the social sciences, the humanities, and the life and physical sciences all provide valuable insight into the human condition. For me, some of the most exciting research takes place at interfaces between these fields of study. I was drawn to behavioral neuroscience because it offered the opportunity to transform some of the exciting ideas I read about as a psychology student into mechanistic studies of the nervous system.  

My experience in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience 

My experience studying in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience was wonderful. I was one of the few students from my cohort who chose to undertake a summer research rotation prior to my first year of classes, so I was able to complete four research rotations prior to joining a lab. I chose to do these rotations with professors who had some very different strengths and areas of study, which allowed me to really sample a lot of different aspects of behavioral neuroscience. 

In the end, I found myself most at home doing work that might be called something between behavioral pharmacology and reproductive endocrinology. I joined the laboratory of Professor Finn, where I was encouraged to develop my own research interests within the scope of a well-defined course of study. My dissertation research focused on biological responses to progesterone at the sub-cellular, cellular, and behavioral levels. 

Beyond the dissertation work, OHSU is simply a great environment for study. I came to OHSU with some pretty specific ideas about what I wanted to accomplish and where I was headed afterwards. But do you remember that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when the picture turns to color? That's what it was like coming to OHSU. It may sound like an exaggeration, but OHSU really changed my world and my way of thinking about health, medicine, and research. Whether you are a prospective student considering a career in research, a Ph.D. candidate looking for a post-doc position, or someone seeking a faculty appointment, I can honestly say that this vibrant community of researchers has a lot to offer you. 

After graduation 

After graduating from the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience I worked briefly for a non-profit organization called the Canyon Ranch Institute, and I taught for a year in the psychology departments of Portland State University and Lewis & Clark College. I am now back in school studying medicine in OHSU’s M.D. program in the Class of 2015, and I am working with the Women’s Health Research Unit in the areas of family planning and women's mental health.

Date last updated:  May 17, 2012