Dr. Zeni Shabani

Shkelzen Shabani, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Office:  233 Cyril Moore
Phone:  (701) 858-3164
Email:  zeni.shabani@minotstateu.edu


Dr. Shabani received his B.S. in Microbiology from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater OK in 2001. He earned his Ph.D. degree from the Neurobiology and Behavior program in Georgia State University, Atlanta GA, in 2008.  His Ph.D. dissertation involved neuroethological questions about predator-prey interactions and chemical communication in spiny lobsters. His approach was to identify the chemosensory pathways involved in the neural processing of chemical signals in spiny lobsters and to characterize the nature of the behaviors in the laboratory and in the field. Dr. Shabani continued his research as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland OR, and later in the department of Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience at Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla CA.  As a postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Shabani used pharmacological and behavioral approaches to understand rewarding, and reinforcing effects of natural rewards and drugs of abuse.  In 2012 and 2013, he taught in the biological sciences at Ohlone College, Fremont CA and California State University East Bay, Hayward CA. He joined the biology department as an assistant professor at Minot State University in the fall of 2013.

Courses taught

BIO 111 - Concepts Biology

BIO 220 – Anatomy & Physiology I

BIO 221 – Anatomy & Physiology II

BIO 482 – Neurobiology

Research interests

My primary research interests center on the motivational circuits that control appetitive behaviors for natural rewards and drugs of abuse. Addiction to drugs of abuse, including alcohol, continues to have a tremendous toll on society.  This is because individuals with drug addictions can relapse to drug abuse in response to a contextual cue, such as a bar serving alcohol, after years of drug abstinence. It is well established that such vulnerability to relapse is related to the massive neuroadaptations in brain pathways that are involved in motivation for natural rewards (i.e. food, reproduction) and drug rewards. Poorly understood is how daily neurophysiological and psychological processes involved in responses to natural rewards influence the brain pathways that trigger relapse of drug use.  However, most recent research in this area suggests that some of the same neuropeptide systems that increase salience of food associated cues and motivation to obtain and consume food may also influence saliency of cues associated with drugs of abuse. My research program pursues questions at the behavioral and physiological levels to study the mechanisms by which neuropeptides modulate motivational circuits involved in food and alcohol seeking and intake.



Kicklighter, C.E.*, S. Shabani*, P.M. Johnson*, and C.D. Derby. 2005. Sea hares use novel antipredatory chemical defenses. Current Biology 15: 549-554.  [*denotes equally contributing authors]

Garm, A., S. Shabani, J.T. H√łeg, and C.D. Derby. 2005. Chemosensory neurons in the mouthparts of the spiny lobsters Panulirus argus and P. interruptus (Crustacea: Decapoda). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 314: 175-186.

Shabani, S., S. Yaldiz, L. Vu, and C.D. Derby. 2007. Acidity enhances the effectiveness of active chemical defensive secretions of sea hares, Aplysia californica, against spiny lobsters, Panulirus interruptusJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 193(12): 1195-1204.

Shabani, S., M. Kamio, and C.D. Derby. 2008. Spiny lobsters detect blood-borne alarm cues through olfactory sensilla. Journal of Experimental Biology 211(Pt16): 2600-2608.

Shabani, S., M. Kamio, and C.D. Derby. 2009.  Spiny lobsters use urine-borne olfactory signaling and physical aggressive behaviors to influence social status of conspecifics.  Journal of Experimental Biology 212(15): 2464-2474.

Shabani, S., R. Foster, N. Gubner, T.J. Phillips, and G.P. Mark. 2010. Muscarinic type 2 receptors in the lateral dorsal tegmental area modulate cocaine and food seeking behavior in rats.  Neuroscience 170(2):  559-69.

Shabani, S., C.S. McKinnon, C. Reed, C.L. Cunningham, T.J. Phillips. 2011. Sensitivity to Rewarding or Aversive Effects of Methamphetamine Determines Methamphetamine Intake.  Genes, Brain and Behavior 10(6):  625-36

Mark, G.P., S. Shabani, L.K. Dobbs, S.T. Hansen. 2011.  Cholinergic modulation of mesolimbic dopamine function and reward.  Physiology & Behavior 104(1):  76-81.

Shabani, S., C.S. McKinnon, C.L. Cunningham, T.J. Phillips.  2012.  Profound reduction in sensitivity to the aversive effects of methamphetamine in mice bred for high methamphetamine intake. Neuropharmacology 62(2): 1134-41.

Shabani, S., L. Dobbs, G.P. Mark, D.A. Finn, M.M. Ford, T.J. Phillips. 2012.  A genetic animal model of differential sensitivity to methamphetamine reinforcement. Neuropharmacology 62(7):  2168-76.

Phillips, T., and S. Shabani. 2015. An animal model of differential genetic risk for methamphetamine intake. Front. Neurosc 9: 327.