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Physiology profile

Mary Hawkes

DepartmentDepartment of Physiology
Research summaryInvestigating maternal anxiety


Over 11 and a half thousand woman experience maternal anxiety every year in New Zealand. The effects of this mood disorder are long lasting for both mother and child, disrupting a really crucial time for the development of mother-child bonds and infant health, but we know very little about the neurobiology of maternal anxiety.

My project hopes to further our understanding of maternal anxiety by testing the hypothesis that it causes changes to maternal neural circuitry, disrupting the motivational side of maternal behaviour. We hope to uncover the changes that underlie this and use our biological research to support new mothers and their families.


Reily-Bell, A. L., Fisher, A., Harrison, B., Bowie, S., Ray, S., Hawkes, M., … Fukuzawa, R., Macaulay, E. C., Devenish, C. J., Hung, N. A., & Slatter, T. L. (2020). Human papillomavirus E6/E7 expression in preeclampsia-affected placentae. Pathogens, 9(3), 239. doi: 10.3390/pathogens9030239

Oliphant, A., Hawkes, M. K. N., Cridge, A. G., & Dearden, P. K. (2020). Transcriptomic characterisation of neuropeptides and their putative cognate G protein-coupled receptors during late embryo and stage-1 juvenile development of the Aotearoa-New Zealand crayfish, Paranephrops zealandicus. General & Comparative Endocrinology, 292, 113443. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2020.113443