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C. Sue Carter, Ph.D. and Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D.

C. Sue Carter, Ph.D. is an American biologist and behavioral neurobiologist, and an internationally recognized expert in behavioral neuroendocrinology.  She began her life of research in neuroendocrinology after a doctorate in zoology.  She was the first person to detect and define the physiology of monogamy through her research on the prairie vole—findings that provided the groundwork for subsequent studies of behavioral and developmental effects of oxytocin and vasopressin in humans.  This launched her life-time of research and interest in the endocrinology of love and social bonds. 

Professor Carter currently continues to study the consequences of medical manipulations on human development and parent-child interactions.  This includes the effects of breastfeeding on mother and child, and the use of “pitocin”—a synthetic version of oxytocin—to induce labor.  Most recently she has been examining the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.  She is also known for her research on the physiological basis of social behavior, including studies that implicated oxytocin, vasopressin, and hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (“stress”) axis in pair-bond formation. 

Professor Carter has held multiple professorships and is the author of several hundred articles on the role of oxytocin, and vasopressin as part of the hormonal system associated with love and aggression, respectively. She is currently a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and Distinguished University Scientist and Rudy Professor Emerita of Biology at Indiana University—where she served as executive director of the Kinsey Institute from 2014 until 2019.  

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium at the Kinsey Institute. He is professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland.  He is co-founder of the not-for-profit Polyvagal Institute and has served as president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences.

He has published some 400 peer-reviewed scientific papers across the disciplines of anesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse.

He holds several patents involved in monitoring and regulating autonomic states and originated the Polyvagal Theory, which emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral, mental, and health problems related to traumatic experiences. He is also the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol™, used by more than 2000 therapists. The technique, which improves spontaneous social engagement and language processing and reduces hearing sensitivities, has been helpful in the treatment of autistic individuals.  Professor Porges is the author of The Polyvagal Theory, The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory, and Polyvagal Safety, and he is the co-editor of Clinical Applications of the Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies.