Image of Department of Biology Professor Robin E. White


B.S. in Psychology, Texas Lutheran University
B.A. in Mathematics, Texas Lutheran University
Ph.D. in Neuroscience, The Ohio State University University
A Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University
Joined Westfield State University in 2013


As a neuroscientist, I am extremely interested in how the nervous system functions both normally and after trauma or disease. I am specifically interested in a cell called an astrocyte, which acts to support neurons in the brain and spinal cord. After an injury occurs, astrocytes can either help the neurons survive, or make the injury worse. My research focuses on how astrocytes can be manipulated to promote neuronal support and survival. In addition, I study how a ketogenic diet (high in fats and low in carbohydrates) affects neuronal metabolism and survival. If you are a Westfield student interested in getting involved in neuroscience research, please email me or stop by my office hours!


I am delighted to be teaching at Westfield State University! Much of my teaching style stems from my passion for research; in biology, all of the facts and topics that we learn about come from scientific research. In my courses, I enjoy discussing both the foundational research that influenced the way we learn about biology today, along with the cutting-edge topics that are currently being explored.


Barry, D.S., Ellul, S., Watters, L., Lee, D., Haluska, R., & White R.E.(2018). The ketogenic diet in disease and development.  International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 68:53-58.

White, R.E. & Barry, D.S. The emerging roles of transplanted radial glial cells in regenerating the central nervous system. Neural Regeneration Research,10(10):1548-51.

Xiong, X., Xu, L., Liang, W., & White, R.E., Ouyang, Y.B., Giffard, R.G. (2015). IL-4 is required for sex differences in vulnerability to focal ischemia in mice. Accepted for publication, Stroke, 46(8):2271-6.

Stary, C.M., Xu, L., Sun, X. ,Ouyang, Y.B., White, R.E.,Leong, J., Li, J., Xiong, X., & Giffard, R.G. (2015). MiR-200C contributes to injury from transient focal cerebral ischemia by targeting reelin. Stroke, 46(2)551-6. 

Ouyang, Y.B., Stary, C.M., White, R.E., Giffard, R.G. (2014). The use of microRNAs to modulate redox and immune response to stroke. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, 22(2):187-202. 

Xiong, X.*, White, R.E.*, Xu, L., Yang, L., Sun, X., Zou, B., Pascual, C., Sakurai, T., Giffard, R.G., Xie, X. (2013). Mitigation of murine focal cerebral ischemia by the hypocretin/orexin system is associated with reduced inflammation. Stroke, 44(3):764-770. *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Barreto, G.E., White, R.E.., Xu, L., Palm, C., Giffard, R.G. (2012). Effects of Hsp72 on astrocyte activation following stroke in the mouse. Experimental Neurology, August 20.

White, R.E., Palm, C., Ling, E., Daigle, B.J., Han, R., Patterson, A., Altman, R.B., & Giffard, R.G. (2012). Mice lacking the β2 adrenergic receptor exhibit a unique genetic profile following focal brain ischemia. ASN Neuro, 4(5).

White, R.E. & Giffard, R.G. MicroRNA-320 Induces Neurite Outgrowth by Targeting ARPP-19. NeuroReport, Jul 11;23(10):590-5.

Tawfik, V.L., White, R.E., & Giffard, R.G. (2012) Glial cells, inflammation, and heat shock proteins in cerebral ischemia. Cerebral Ischemia / Book 1, Ed. Balestrino, M., Intech, Rijeka, Croatia.

Ouyang, Y., Lu, Y., Sibao, B., Xu, L., Xiong, X., White, R.E., Sun, X., & Giffard, R.G. (2011). miR-181 regulates Grp78 and influences outcome from cerebral ischemia in vivo and in vitro. Neurobiology of Disease, Jan;45(1):555-63.

White, R.E., Ouyang, Y., & Giffard, R.G. Hsp75/mortalin and protection from ischemic brain injury. (2011). Mortalin Biology: Stress, Life, and Death, Ed. Kaul, S., Springer, New York, NY.

White, R.E., Rao, M., Gensel., J.C., McTigue, D.M., Kaspar, B.K., & Jakeman, L.B. (2011). Transforming growth factor alpha (TGFα) transforms astrocytes to a growth supportive phenotype after spinal cord injury. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(4): 15173-15187. • Press release, entitled “Growth Factor Therapy Alters Cells that Prevent Spinal Cord Repair”, published October 19, 2011 at,, and

Barreto, G.E., White, R.E., Ouyang, Y., Xu, L., & Giffard, R.G. (2011). Astrocytes: Targets for neuroprotection in stroke. Central Nervous System Agent in Medicinal Chemistry, Jun 1;11(2):164-73.

White, R.E., McTigue, D.M., & Jakeman, L.B. (2010). Regional heterogeneity in astrocyte responses following contusive spinal cord injury in mice. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 518(8): 1370-1390.

White, R.E. & Jakeman, L.B. (2008). Don't fence me in: Harnessing the beneficial roles of astrocytes for spinal cord repair. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 26(2-3): 197-214.

White, R.E., Yin, F.Q., & Jakeman, L.B. (2008). TGF-α increases astrocyte invasion and axonal growth into the lesion following contusive spinal cord injury in mice. Experimental Neurology, 214(1): 10-24. • Cover story in Volume 214 of Experimental Neurology, 2008.

Courses that Dr. White teaches:

BIOL0104: Human Biology
BIOL0129 Lecture: Biology I
BIOL0129 Lab: Biology I Lab
BIOL0333: Organismal Neurobiology
BIOL0377: Research Experience in Organismal Neurobiology
BIOL0377: Research Experience in Genetic Cloning
BIOL0180: Introductory Seminar
BIOL0380: Senior Seminar