meet Sue Carter

biologist and behavioural neurobiologist

Sue Carter is biologist and behavioural neurobiologist. She is an internationally recognized expert in behavioral neuroendocrinology. In 2014 she was appointed Director of The Kinsey Institute and Rudy Professor of Biology at Indiana University. Sue was the first person to identify the physiological mechanisms responsible for social monogamy.
Sue studied biology at Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. She completed a PhD in Zoology at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Sue studies social bonding, male and female parental behaviour, the social control of stress reactivity and the social control of reproduction. Her research focuses on neuropeptide and steroid hormones, including oxytocin, vasopressin, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and estrogen. Her research program has discovered important new developmental functions for oxytocin and vasopressin, and implicated these hormones in the regulation of long-lasting neural and effects of early social experiences. She also has a long-standing concern regarding the consequences of medical manipulations for human development and parent-child interactions, including the use of “pitocin” – a synthetic version of oxytocin – to induce labour and consequences of breastfeeding for the mother and child.
Most recently Sue has been examining the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. She is also known for research on the physiological basis of social behavior, including studies that implicated oxytocin, vasopressin and hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (“stress”) axis in the traits of monogamy including pair-bond formation. She pioneered the physiological study of socially monogamous mammals, including the prairie vole. In collaboration with psychiatrist Margaret Altemus she conducted some of the first studies documenting the importance of breastfeeding in the regulation of maternal physiology.

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