Emma Coddington

Associate Professor of Biology


Australian Course in Advanced
Neuroscience, Brisbane, Australia

PhD, Zoology Department, Oregon State
University (OSU), OR, USA
Thesis: Stress and Behavior: Interactions
Among Corticosterone, Vasotocin and Cannabinoids

Neural Systems and Behavior course,
Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA

MS, Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA
Thesis: Acid/Base Transport Across Manduca Midgut Epithelia

BSc First Class Honors, Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand
Thesis: Stress Effects on Amphibian Reproductive Hormones

Teaching Philosophy

I am motivated to teach because I aspire to live and work with people who contribute to our community with discerning thought, integrity, and joie de vivre. To that end, three basic principles are embedded in my teaching: 1) developing creative, original and critical thinking skills through scientific inquiry and multi-modal application of information; 2) challenging students with high intellectual rigor; 3) facilitating students’ development of personal integrity.


Research Interests

Dr. Emma Coddington is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and a member of the Biology Department and the Women and Gender Studies Program. Emma can accurately be called a neuroethologist, whose research examines stress and love in amphibians and people. She and her co-creators (students in lab and classes) bring a broad set of lenses to this field of study including neuroscience, biophysics, physiology, race and gender theory, group theory, sociology and psychology, art and emotional literacies, and cultural competencies. She has pursued questions about how the brain and body interact in response to stress, and the mechanisms that lead to decision-making and stress-resilience since her undergraduate years at the University of Otago, in New Zealand. She now combines her passion for teaching and research as a teacher-scholar-citizen at Willamette University where she teaches courses in physiology, neuroscience, and the interface between neuroscience, critical feminist and queer theory, physiology, evolution, and sociology. Her unique viewpoints on communication, the imposter phenomenon, neuroscience of implicit bias, and cultural and gender diversity in science emerge as a common theme across classes and research. At any one time, her research program engages 6-8 undergraduate students and a postdoc in various projects stemming from questions about the neuroscience of stress and pro-community behaviors. Current projects in her lab include 1) developing and disseminating an NSF-funded workshop for adults to develop a greater understanding about their experiences of imposter phenomenon, how these impact decision-making, self-biases, and stereotyping – ultimately impacting how we proceed in our careers and lives. When these are overlaid into a community culture such as an academic institution these manifest as implicit and explicit biases. 2) Exploring questions about how the brainstem and hormones regulate behavioral decision making in vertebrates. 3) How does a highly toxic animal evolve adaptations to be toxic to others and immune to themselves? These later two big questions are examined using the model organism rough-skinned newts, Taricha granulosa, a locally abundant and charismatic amphibian. Folks in her lab apply a variety of tools – including electrophysiology, behavior, and functional imaging – to ask questions about the fundamental principles by which brain stem circuits and hormones modulate behavior. Her research program is supported by an NSF CAREER award, a collaborative NSF grant with Dr. Heather Eisthen (Michigan State U), grants from the MJ Charitable Trust, and Research Corporation.


IDS 101-07 College Colloquium: ‘Cool as a Construct’

BIOL 244 Physiological Dynamics in Animals

BIOL 297 Seminar Research Exploration in Biology

BIOL 351W Seminar & Lab, Animal Physiology

BIOL 470 Seminar Special Topics course that varies with student-chosen theme. Examples of past themes: Neuroscience of Stress and Othering, Physiology of Gender, Neurobiology of Pain, Neurobiology of Stress & Decision-making

BIOL 497 Seminar Senior Thesis Research in her lab BIOL 498 Biology Colloquium: Capstone course for Biology Majors with a focus on Science Communication and Cultural Competency growth

Advised Student Research

Past Students:

Penman K*, Schultz N*, Coddington, EJ. 2010. Suppression of sex behavior by opiates and stress steroids occurs via independent neuroendocrine pathways. General and Comparative Endocrinology, Submitted.

Current Students:

2009 Erin McEvoy
An imaging study examining cannabinoid regulation of behavior

2009 Sarah Sonnenfeld
An imaging study examining corticosterone regulation of behavior

2010 Becky Tzucker
A behavior study examining how touch modifies stress responses

2010 Peter Ho
Animal husbandry and lab technician

2010 Emily Abraham
Animal husbandry and lab technician

2010 Zachary Lange
A survey of newt pond locations in the Oregon Coastal Range


Yaeger, D and Coddington, E. 2018. Calcium-induced calcium release activates spontaneous miniature outward currents in newt medullary reticular formation neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology (currently published online- print coming).

Coddington, E.C. 2017. The Vertebrate Brainstem as the Primary Site of Behavior Command: Insights from an Amphibian. Chapter 26, In Hormones, Brains, and Behavior, 3rd Ed.  Elsevier. (Editors: Don Pfaff and Marian Joëls)

Audrey Davis*, Emily Abraham*, Erin McEvoy*, Sarah Sonnenfeld*, Christine Lewis, Catherine S. Hubbard, E. Kurt Dolence, James D. Rose, and Emma Coddington. 2015. Corticosterone suppresses vasotocin enhanced clasping behavior in male rough-skinned newts by novel mechanisms interfering with V1a receptor availability and receptor-mediated endocytosis. Hormones and Behavior.69: 39-49.

Lombana K*, Middleton N*, Coddington, EJ. 2015. Suppression of sex behavior by kappa opiates and stress steroids occurs via independent neuroendocrine pathways. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 201: 81-86.

Charlotte Butler-Munro, Emma J Coddington, Cristina H Shirley, Phil M Heyward. 2010. Lithium modulates cortical excitability in vitro. Brain Research, 1352: 50-60.

Shirley C, Coddington EJ, Heyward P. 2009. All-or-none population bursts temporally constrain surround inhibition between mouse olfactory glomeruli. Brain Research Bulletin, 81(4-5):406-415.

Coddington EJ, Lewis CM, Rose JD, Moore FL. 2007. Endocannabinoids mediate the effects of acute stress and corticosterone on sex behavior. Endocrinology 148(2):493-500. (This paper was highlighted by Endocrinology in an accompanying article: R. Denver. 2007. Endocannabinoids link rapid, membrane-mediated corticosteroid actions to behavior. Endocrinology 148(2):490-492)

Hollis DM, Coddington EJ, Moore FL. 2006. Neuroanatomical distribution of cannabinoid receptor gene expression in the brain of the rough-skinned newt, Taricha granulosa. Brain Behavior and Evolution 67(3):135-149

Eisthen HL, Coddington EJ. 2004. A new player in synaptic plasticity. Journal of Experimental Biology. 207(17):vi

Coddington EJ, Moore FL. 2003. Neuroendocrinology of context-dependent stress responses: vasotocin alters the effect of corticosterone on amphibian behaviors. Hormones and Behavior. Jan;43(1):222-228


NSF CAREER (IOS-1351129). An integrated research-education program to uncover rapid cellular mechanisms by which stress-steroids facilitate context-appropriate behaviors ($585,000) PI:Coddington. 2017

NSF (IOS: 1655392). Collaborative Research: Nervous System Adaptations in a Highly Neurotoxic Organism (Collaborative: $404,823) CO-PIs: Heather Eisthen and Emma Coddington.

Biology Endowment Fund: Intradepartmental Bias & Cultural Competency Trainings (associated with Biology Tenure-Track Search). (PI: Coddington & Craig; $10,000)

Biology Endowment Fund: Two student fellowships for service to Biology Tenure Track Search. Students to be nominated and elected by Students in STEM, OMA, & e&e. (PI Coddington; $1000)

Biology Endowment Fund: Junior Faculty Support Fund (PI Coddington; $120,000)

Presidential Discretionary Fund: “Reimagining Biology Curriculum at Willamette University using Vision and Change and Inclusive Pedagogy Practices.” PI and lead on week-long workshop: PI Coddington. Collaborators: Butler, Craig, Duncan, Lindh, Marks, and Smith.

Biology Endowment Fund: Reimagining Biology Curriculum at Willamette University using Vision and Change and Inclusive Pedagogy Practices. (PI Coddington; $1000)

Willamette CLA Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching & Scholarship

Science Collaborative Research Program Award ($8,000), Willamette University.

NSF Major Research Instrumentation (DBI-1126273). Acquisition of a laser scanning confocal system to advance research and training in biology, chemistry, and physics at Willamette University ($526,788) PI:Coddington, 5 Co-PIs

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust General Scientific Research Grant Program. Acquisition of advanced components for the laser scanning confocal system to promote research and training in biology, chemistry, and physics at Willamette University. ($247,849) PI:Coddington, Co-PI Tallman.

Cottrell College Science Award, Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Stress steroids as neuromodulators: studying the cellular effects of stress steroids on neurons. ($57,510) PI:Coddington (RCSA # 20280)

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust College Research Program for Life Sciences. Characterizing the effects of Stress Steroids on Behavior-controlling neurons. ($76,545) PI:Coddington. (2010195:JVZ:2/24/2011)