Dr. Catherine L. Franssen is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. Franssen is currently serving as a Scientist in Residence at the Science Museum of Virginia until August 2021.

A broadly trained neuroscientist, Franssen’s current research is in behavioral neuroendocrinology- examining how environmental enrichment can reduce stress & anxiety and improve cognition. Her research has been published in the academic journals Nature, Neuroscience, Brain Research, Stress, Journal of Neuroendocrinology, and other top journals, as well as featured in several popular press books. Franssen holds a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Franssen teaches a variety of classes including Introduction to Biopsychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Sensation and Perception, Psychopharmacology, Hormones and Behavior, and Psychobiology of Stress. Dr. Franssen’s mission is to make neuroscience approachable, interesting, and applicable to everyone.


Catherine Lowry Franssen grew up in Richmond, Virginia and attended Mills Godwin High School. She flourished at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA and as a Psychology major, found her true calling in neuroscience thanks to Dr. Kelly Lambert.

Dr. Franssen then went to The University of Chicago, where she worked with Dr. Leslie Kay to acquire a Ph.D. in Neurobiology, studying the brain’s responses to olfactory stimuli and working to understand how the brain recognizes important information, like predator odors.

After several postdoctoral experiences in teaching and research, a year in industry, and a year as an assistant professor of Psychology at JMU, Dr. Franssen joined the Psychology department at Longwood University in the fall of 2014, created a minor in Neuroscience Studies, and served as director of that program until Summer 2020.

Dr. Franssen lives in Farmville, VA with her husband, Dr. Adam Franssen, and their two children. Dr Franssen’s youngest daughter has alopecia and the family has shared her story publicly with Parents and in local news.

More details on Dr. Franssen published in Richmond Family Magazine.