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Isabella Maita


University students experience high levels of academic stress, some of which may be heightened by unpredictability and the hidden curriculum of higher education- the unspoken guidelines that govern student success. My research interests center on how instructional methods can ameliorate student stress. Students benefit from transparency- clarity about the purpose and expectations of a given assignment or course. A current project uses qualitative methods (representative focus groups) and quantitative methods (surveys) to assess student perceptions of transparency and how predictability differentially affects individual stress levels. I am interested in determining whether improving transparency at the assignment, classroom, and institutional levels can especially improve diverse student experiences in STEM.

Select Publications

  • Maita, I., Bazer, A., Chae, K., Parida, A., Mirza, M., Sucher, J., ... & Samuels, B. A. (2023). Chemogenetic activation of corticotropin-releasing factor-expressing neurons in the anterior bed nucleus of the stria terminalis reduces effortful motivation behaviors. Neuropsychopharm.
  • Maita, I., Roepke, T. A., & Samuels, B. A. (2022). Chronic stress-induced synaptic changes to corticotropin-releasing factor-signaling in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 16, 903782.
  • Sleat, D. E., Maita, I., Banach-Petrosky, W., Larrimore, K. E., Liu, T., Cruz, D., ... & Lobel, P. (2022). Elevated levels of tripeptidyl peptidase 1 do not ameliorate pathogenesis in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 118, 106-107.
  • Maita, I., Bazer, A., Blackford, J. U., & Samuels, B. A. (2021). Functional anatomy of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis–hypothalamus neural circuitry: Implications for valence surveillance, addiction, feeding, and social behaviors. Handbook of clinical neurology, 179, 403-418.


Isabella (Bella) received her PhD in Neuroscience from Rutgers University in 2023. There, she performed translational research using mouse models of stress, mood disorder, and Alzheimer's Disease. Her dissertation focused on corticotropin-releasing factor-expressing neurons in the extended amygdala (the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis), and their role in stress and motivated behavior. She joined UCSD as an Assistant Teaching Professor in 2023.