During her tenure as associate dean at Wellesley, she oversaw and supported 20 academic departments and programs, sought to improve faculty recruitment, retention, and professional development, and was responsible for strategic planning initiatives relating to faculty diversity, interdisciplinary programs, and non-tenure-track faculty. From 2004 to 2006, she also served as director of Wellesley’s Neurosciences Program and helped spearhead the creation of that interdisciplinary major.
A 1979 graduate of Wellesley, Professor Berger-Sweeney received an M.P.H. in environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1981, and a Ph.D. in neurotoxicology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in 1989. Following her graduate training, she worked for two years at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), a multidisciplinary public health research institution in France.
Professor Berger-Sweeney’s research focuses on the neurobiology of learning and memory. Her research includes behavioral, neurochemical, and anatomical studies, all aimed at understanding mechanisms involved in normal memory and cognitive processes and how these processes malfunction in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Rett syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Her work has been recognized by a National Science Foundation Young Investigator award, among other honors. She holds, with Dr. Rachael Neve, a patent for a model for studying Alzheimer’s disease-like neuropathology and associated cognitive impairment.
She is a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, and has served on numerous national and professional boards and committees. She has been a member of the editorial board of Behavioral Neuroscience, the Behavioral Neuroscience Review Panel of the National Science Foundation, and an NIH Study Section panel. She recently completed a term as Treasurer for the Society for Neuroscience. Widely acknowledged for her efforts to increase diversity in the biological sciences, she received a Lifetime Mentoring Achievement Award from the Society for Neuroscience in 2006. In May 2010, the HistoryMakers organization, a national nonprofit research and educational institution, honored her as one of the nation’s leading African-American scientists.