Dr. Rita Cowell received a Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1997) and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Michigan (2002). After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan (2006), she held a position as an assistant and associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). In 2017, Dr. Cowell joined Southern Research, a non-profit research institute affiliated with UAB, as chair of neuroscience. There, she managed an academic-style, externally funded laboratory and consulted for internal and external neuroscience-related drug discovery projects. In late 2022, she returned to UAB in as a tenured professor of neurology, where her laboratory aims to define the transcriptional and cellular mechanisms that contribute to cell type-specific vulnerability to neurodegeneration. Her long-term career goal is to use this information to identify novel strategies for neuroprotection.