Erik Hodges

Erik Headshot.jpeg

Erik Hodges was born and raised in Oklahoma. He attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU) in Alva, Oklahoma where he received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Jason Wickham. Upon graduating from NWOSU, he attended the University of Oklahoma – Health Sciences Center to study the molecular and behavioral effects of aging. After receiving a Master’s degree in Neuroscience, Erik took a brief reprieve from science to pursue his passion for cooking.

Erik is currently a PhD candidate in the Pharmaceutical Sciences program at Ole Miss. He is insatiably curious about neuroscience and strives to synthesize knowledge from numerous fields to improve the way our brains function. In addition to his research, Erik serves as President of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences Graduate Student Advocacy Council – which works to enhance the professional development of graduate students.

When he is not in the lab, Erik spends his time playing guitar, cooking, and growing vegetables in his aquaponics garden.


Education and Research

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – In Progress August 2017 – Current
Graduate Program in Pharmacology                                    
            Department of Pharmacology
            University of Mississippi
            Oxford, Mississippi
            Mentor: Nicole M. Ashpole Ph.D.

The Ashpole lab specializes in molecular and behavioral interrogation of the aging brain. Current studies are centered around the role of exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids on rates of aging and susceptibility to age-related diseases. Studies primarily utilize in vitro and in vivo rodent models, fluorescence microscopy, behavioral and molecular bioassays.

Master of Neuroscience (M.Sc.) – Awarded
Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences                       August 2012 – December 2015
Oklahoma Center for Neuroscience
            University of Oklahoma – Health Science Center
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
            Mentor: William E. Sonntag Ph.D.

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) - Awarded                                       August 2008 – May 2012
      Major: Chemistry
      Minor: Biology
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
            Alva, Oklahoma
            Mentor: Jason Wickham Ph.D.
Research consisted of discovering and synthesizing organic plasticizers for use in solid-polymer electrolyte batteries. Details of the project are confidential due to a currently pending patent application.

OK-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence                           May 2011 – August 2011                      Oklahoma State University – College of Osteopathic Medicine
            Tulsa, Oklahoma
            Mentor: Kathleen Curtis Ph.D.

Awards and Scholarships

Virginia Dolores Cantú Animal Welfare Fellowship                                May 2018
University of Mississippi Department of Research and Sponsored Programs

Regional University Baccalaureate Scholarship                                        2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

OK-INBRE Fellowship                                                                                        March 2011
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
National Institutes of Health IDeA Program

Joe Melton Scholarship                                                                                    August 2010
      Northwestern Oklahoma State University


Professional Experience

Graduate Research Assistant                                  August 2017 – Current
      Aging Circadian Rhythms and Cannabinoids
University of Mississippi
            Department of BioMolecular Sciences
            Oxford, MS 38655
            Mentor: Nicole Ashpole Ph.D.

Graduate Research Assistant                       August 2012 – December 2015
      Insulin and IGF-1 in the Aging Brain
University of Oklahoma – Health Sciences Center
            Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104
            Mentor: William E. Sonntag Ph.D.

Data Analyst and Method Engineer                     May 2012 – August 2012
      R&D for Commercial Heating and Air Conditioner Manufacturing
            International Environmental Corporation (IEC)
            Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73109
            Supervisor: Gary Nemecek

Undergraduate Research Assistant                               January 2010 – May 2012
      Synthesis of Solid Polymer Electrolyte Plasticizers
            Northwestern Oklahoma State University
            Alva, Oklahoma 73717
            Mentor: Jason Wickham Ph.D.


Laboratory Technician and Data Analyst                                  May 2011 – August 2011     
Behavioral Neuroscience and Physiology Research
            Oklahoma State University – College of Osteopathic Medicine
            Tulsa, Oklahoma 74107
            Mentor: Kathleen Curtis Ph.D

Laboratory and Industrial Plant Intern     January 2010 – May 2011
      Iodine Extraction and Concentration Determination                       
            Arysta LifeScience
            Dacoma, Oklahoma 73731
            Director: Darrell Mason

Erik Poster.jpeg


IGF-1 has sexually dimorphic, pleiotropic, and time-dependent effects on healthspan, pathology, and lifespan. Ashpole NM, Logan S, Yabluchanskiy A, Mitschelen MC, Yan H, Farley JA, Hodges EL, Ungvari Z, Csiszar A, Chen S, Georgescu C, Hubbard GB, Ikeno Y, Sonntag WE. Geroscience. 2017.

Differential effects of IGF-1 deficiency during the life span on structural and biomechanical properties in the tibia of aged mice. Ashpole NM, Herron JC, Estep PN, Logan S, Hodges EL, Yabluchanskiy A, Humphrey MB, Sonntag WE. Age (Dordr). 2016.

OKN-007 decreases VEGFR-2 levels in a preclinical GL261 mouse glioma model. de Souza PC, Smith N, Pody R, He T, Njoku C, Silasi-Mansat R, Lupu F, Meek B, Chen H, Dong Y, Saunders D, Orock A, Hodges E, Colijn S, Mamedova N, Towner RA. American Journal of Nuclear Medicine – Molecular Imaging. 2015.

IGF-1 Regulates Vertebral Bone Aging Through Sex-Specific and Time-Dependent Mechanisms. Ashpole NM, Herron JC, Mitschelen MC, Farley JA, Logan S, Yan H, Ungvari Z, Hodges EL, Csiszar A, Ikeno Y, Humphrey MB, Sonntag WE. J Bone Miner Res. 2015

Pharmacologically-induced neurovascular un-coupling is associated with cognitive impairment in mice. Tarantini S, Hertelendy P, Tucsek Z, Valcarcel-Ares N, Smith N, Menyhart A, Farkas E, Hodges E, Towner R, Deak F, Sonntag WE, Csiszar A, Ungvari Z, Toth P. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism (NPG). 2015.

Growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 and the aging brain. Ashpole NM, Sanders JE, Hodges EL, Yan H, Sonntag WE. Experimental Gerontology. 2015.

Endothelin-1-induced focal cerebral ischemia in the growth hormone/IGF-1 deficient Lewis Dwarf rat. Yan H, Mitschelen M, Toth P, Ashpole NM, Farley JA, Hodges EL, Warrington JP, Han S, Fung KM, Csiszar A, Ungvari Z, Sonntag WE. Journals of Gerontology A. 2014.

Oral Presentations and Posters

 Aging, Circadian Rhythms, and Cannabinoids. Hodges EL, Ashpole NM. Poster presented by Erik Hodges at the 2018 University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Research Symposium in Oxford, MS.

Early Life IGF-1 Deficiency Results in Age-Related Cognitive Impairment. Hodges EL, Ashpole NM, Sonntag WE. Poster presented by Erik Hodges at the 2015 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting held in Chicago, IL.

The Influence of IGF-1 Deficiency on Lifespan and Bone Health is Sex-Specific and Age-of-Onset Dependent. Ashpole NM, Herron JC, Mitschelen MC, Farley JA, Hodges EL, Logan S, Yan H, Ungvari Z, Csiszar A, Ikeno Y, Humphrey MB, Sonntag WE. Poster presented by Erik Hodges at the 2015 American Aging Association Annual Meeting held in Marina Del Rey, CA.

The Roles of Growth Hormone and IGF-1 in Age-Related Cognitive Decline. Oral presentation by Erik Hodges at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, OK. December 2014.

Lifespan and Pathological Effects of Circulating IGF-1 Are Dependent On Both Gender And Age-of-onset: An Interim Report. Sonntag WE, Mitschelen M, Farley J, Ashpole NM, Yan H, Siefers N, Hodges EL, Landoll J, Richardson A, van Remmen H, Ikeno Y. Poster presented by Erik Hodges at the 2014 American Aging Association Annual Meeting held in San Antonio, TX.

Regulation of Neuronal Structure: A Potential Role for IGF-1 and ROCK Signaling. Ashpole N, Landoll J, Hodges E, Mitschelen M, Yan H, Farley J, Sonntag WE.  Poster presented by Nicole Ashpole at the 2014 American Aging Association Annual Meeting held in San Antonio, TX.

Sex and Salt Stress: Effects of Ovarian Hormones on Behavioral Responses to Physiological Stressors. Erik L. Hodges, Alexis Jones, Liming Fan, and Kathleen S. Curtis. Poster presented May 2011 during the annual OK-INBRE poster session held at the University of Oklahoma – Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, OK.

Memberships and Affiliations

Graduate Student Advocacy Council, Founding President                    July 2018 – Present
      Department of BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi

Society for Neuroscience, Member      December 2013 – Present

American Aging Association (AAA), Member      December 2013 – Present

AAA Graduate Student Chapter, Founding President                             March 2015 – December 2015

NWOSU Chemistry Club, President                                                               August 2009 – May 2012     
Northwestern Oklahoma State University

American Chemical Society, Member                                                          August 2010 – May 2012     
Oklahoma Section 545, Central-Plains Division