Dr. Peter C. Butera

Dr.  Peter C. Butera

Professor of Psychology & Chairperson

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Office Location:
DePaul Hall, Room 3


B.S. in Psychology, University of Scranton, 1980
M.S. in Psychobiology, Purdue University, 1983
Ph.D. in Psychobiology, Purdue University, 1985

Joined Niagara University faculty in September of 1985

My research interests are in the areas of behavioral neuroscience and neuroendocrinology.  Within these areas, my research focuses on the control of feeding behavior, meal patterns, and body weight by ovarian hormones (estrogen, progesterone), sites and mechanisms of action of steroid hormones within the brain, and interactions between the immune system, endocrine system, and the brain.  Student research projects in my lab cover a wide range of topics including:  sex differences in feeding behavior and body weight regulation; interactions between the immune and endocrine systems; sex differences in disease anorexia;  and estrogen-induced changes in gene expression within the brain.

My teaching interests also lie in biopsychology and the broader area of experimental psychology. You will have me for a professor in our courses in Physiological Psychology, Laboratory in Physiological Psychology, Psychopharmacology, Psychology of Learning and Conditioning, History and Systems of Psychology, and Introductory Psychology. I also teach the department's senior seminar course entitled Senior Seminar (as my colleagues also do). My offerings in the advanced topics seminar have included Psychopharmacology, Social and Hormonal Influences on Primate Behavior, and the Psychology of Food Intake.

Current Research

My research focuses on the effects of ovarian hormones on food intake and body weight and interactions between the immune and endocrine systems that contribute to sex differences in immune function. This work has primarily examined how estrogen interacts with the neurobiological controls of feeding, specifically cholecystokinin and ghrelin, to produce the changes in food intake and meal size that occur following estrogen withdrawal and hormone replacement. My research has also investigated the ability of estrogen to influence the anorectic effect of cytokines (interleukin-1) that are released following activation of the immune system. This research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Niagara University Research Council.

Educational Background

BS in Psychology from the University of Scranton and masters and doctoral degrees in Psychobiology from Purdue University.

Current Involvement

I serve as a grant proposal reviewer for the Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning, and Ethology Study Section at the National Institutes of Health and I'm also a member of the Behavioral Neuroscience Fellowship Study Section at the NIH. I am an editorial reviewer for several scientific journals including Physiology and Behavior, Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, and The American Journal of Physiology. I also have a faculty appointment as an Adjunct Research Professor in the Behavioral Neuroscience Program at the University at Buffalo.