Aubrey M. Kelly

Aubrey Kelly 3Current Position: Assistant Professor, Emory University

Postdoc, Cornell University (2014-2018)

NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellow

PhD (2014), Indiana University,

BA (2007), University of California, San Diego


Personal webpage


Research Interests:

Sociality, vasopressin, oxytocin, social behavior network, development, epigenetics, endocrinology

Specific Interests:

My research focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms that modulate social behavior, with a particular emphasis on variation in neural structure and function that produce individual, sex, and species differences in behavior. My dissertation work investigated the role of specific nonapeptide (i.e., oxytocin, OT, and vasopressin, VP) cell groups in social behavior, aggression, and anxiety in estrildid finches ranging in social structure. My postdoctoral research builds upon this body of work and asks similar questions in a social rodent species, the prairie vole. Additionally, I am investigating how the various VP-OT cell groups and receptor areas function as a network to modulate social behavior, and am also examining the development and plasticity of nonapeptide systems. I utilize an integrative approach and combine conceptual and analytical tools from animal behavior, neuroendocrinology, comparative neuroanatomy, evolutionary ecology, and epigenetics.


Papers (from the lab):

Kelly AM, Ong JY, Witmer RA, Ophir AG (2020) Paternal deprivation impairs social behavior putatively via epigenetic modification to lateral septum vasopressin receptor. Science Advances. 6, eabb9166

Kelly AM, Hiura LC, Ophir AG. (2018) Rapid nonapeptide synthesis during a critical period of development in the prairie vole: Plasticity of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Brain Structure and Function.

Kelly AM, Saunders AG, Ophir AG. (2018) Mechanistic substrates of a life history transition in male prairie voles: Developmental plasticity in affiliation and aggression corresponds to nonapeptide neuronal function. Hormones and Behavior. 99, 14-24. [1st authorship is shared between Kelly and Saunders]

Stevenson TJ, Alward BA, Ebling FJP, Fernald, RD, Kelly AM, Ophir AG. (2018) The value of comparative animal research: Krogh’s principle facilitates scientific discoveries. Policy Insights from the Brain and Behavioral Sciences. 5, 118-125.

Kelly AM, Hiura LC, Saunders AG, Ophir AG. (2017) Oxytocin neurons exhibit extensive functional plasticity due to offspring age in mothers and fathers. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 57, 603-618.

Kelly AM & Ophir AG (2015) Compared to what: What can we say about nonapeptide function and social behavior without a frame of reference? Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 6, 97-103.


Undergrads Date Joined
Rebecca Horowitz 2017- 2018
Calvin Sowah 2017
Kelly Pellegrino 2016-2018
Alex Saunders 2015-2017 (with Honors)
Marissa L Rice 2015-2017
Rachel Margariti 2014-2017
Ruth Witmer 2016-2017 (High School Student via New Visions Program), 2017 Summer
Jeremy Pustilnik 2016
 Chang Kim 2014-2016


Aubrey presenting at SBN, 2016



SBN 2015 WC Young Recent Graduate Award