Brennen Risch

WWU graduate student Brennen Risch working at a lab desk

Brennen Risch Looks to Cannabidiol for Possible Treatments of Stress-Induced Social Anxiety Disorder

Brennen Risch (he/him/his) is a second-year graduate student of psychology and a recipient of the WWU Graduate Research Award for his work on the efficacy of treating stress-induced social anxiety disorder (SAD) in mice with cannabidiol (CBD).   

Psychological disorders like SAD are increasingly common in the United States. Cannabis and CBD use have increased in recent years with legalization and broader access. But research into the mechanisms of their medicinal effects is lacking, which slows and limits their use in clinical settings. Risch wants to help take this research a step further to identify new pharmacological strategies, with fewer side effects than are seen with other medications, for treatment of SAD in humans. 

Risch got his bachelor's degree in social psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and knew he wanted to go into neuroscientific research with animals in the lab next. Risch says, “My time at Western has been the best of my academic career both because of the amazing opportunities I have working in Josh Kaplan's lab and because of incredible professors like Barbara Lehman and Kristi Lemm who prioritize the students above anything else!”  

After graduation, Risch plans to do more lab research and potentially pursue a PhD. 

Read more about Western's MS program in experimental psychology.