Faculty Profiles

Nathaniel J. Thom Headshot

Nathaniel J. Thom, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of Biological and Health Sciences, Director of the Neuroscience Program

On Faculty since 2013

View CV

Naval Health Research Center - San Diego
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Applied Neuroscience

The University of Georgia
Ph.D., Exercise Science, 2009

The University of Georgia
M.S., Exercise Science, 2005

The University of Wisconsin - Madison
B.S., Biology, 2001

Broadly, I am interested in modifying factors that promote an adaptive response to stress. More specifically, I employ psychophysiological and neuroimaging methods to better understand how physical and mental training programs alter brain-behavior relationships in ways that promote a healthy response to and recovery from stress. My research evaluating interventions to promote physical activity has also provided me with an interest in advanced statistical techniques including meta-regression and structural equation modeling, which I also employ when analyzing brain imaging data. I am currently working with undergraduate and graduate Wheaton College students on several studies that evaluate resilience among aid workers. Our goal is to equip aid-workers with tools to help them prepare for, respond to, and successfully recover from the stressors of humanitarian efforts. See the "links" section for a link to my Brain Hygiene Lab, where you can learn more about our research.

  • BIOL 241: Organization of Life: Genetics and Cell Biology 
  • NEUR 241: Foundations of Neuroscience
  • BIOL 315: The Neurobiology of Stress
  • BIOL 336: Neurobiology 
  • BIOL 362: Cell and Developmental Biology 
  • NEUR 369: Neuroscience Collaborative Research
  • CORE 341: Stress and Flourishing

Courses Previously Taught:

  • AHS 371: Clinical Kinesiology
  • AHS 381: Epidemiology
  • AHS 101: Wellness


Mindfulness-based Training Attenuates Insula Response to an Aversive Challenge, Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, 2014
Haase, L., Thom, N.J., Shukla, A., Davenport, P.W., Simmons, A., Paulus, M.P. & Johnson, D.C.

Modifying Resilience Mechanisms in At-risk Individuals: A Controlled Study of Mindfulness Training in Marines Preparing for Deployment, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2014
Johnson, D.C., Thom, N.J., Stanley, E.A., Haase, L., Shih, P.B., Thompson, W.K., Potterate, E.G., Minor, T.R., & Paulus, M.P.

Emotional Scenes Elicit More Pronounced Self-reported Emotional Experience and Greater EPN and LPP Modulation When Compared to Emotional Faces, Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, 2013
Thom, N.J.,Knight, J., Dishman, R.K., Sabatinelli, D., Johnson, D.C., & Clementz, B.A.

Detecting Emotion in Others: Increased Insula and Decreased Medial Prefrontal Cortex Activation During Emotion Processing in Elite Adventure Racers, Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, 2012
Thom, N.J., Johnson, D.C., Flagan, T., Simmons, A.N., Gillis, K., Kotturi, S.,Van Orden, K.F., Potterat, E., Swain, J.L., & Paulus, M.P.

  • Psychophysiology
  • Brain Imaging
  • Stress
  • Resilience
  • Brain Health
  • PTSD
  • Trauma
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Chicago Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for Psychophysiological Research
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • Mental Health in Missions Conference, “Nuanced Resilience: What REALLY Matters for Cross-Cultural Workers”, Fall, 2018, Angola, IN
  • College Church Missions Festival, “Key Risk and Resilience Factors Among Missionaries: what do the missionaries say?”, Spring, 2018, Wheaton, IL.
  • College Church Missions Festival, “Promoting an Adaptive Response to Stress”, Fall, 2017, Wheaton, IL.
  • GLINTS training seminar, “Heart rate variability applications among missionary trainees”, Spring 2017, Wheaton, IL.
  • College Church Missions Festival, “Stress on the body and brain: Understanding your body so you can protect your brain”, Fall, 2016, Wheaton, IL.
  • Will County’s MAPP Collaborative Forum, “Collaborative opportunities at DuPage County Health Department” (2014)
  • Invited to Microcirculatory Mini-Symposium: Early, A.*, Thom, N.J., Hunt, B., & Herring, M. (2015). Effect of Macronutrient Ingestion on Flow-Mediated Dilation: A Meta-Regression Analysis. Experimental Biology in Boston, MA.

Image of article in Scientific American for link to article

Article: "Can Extreme Resilience Be Taught?" - Sandra Upson, Scientific American



Image of article on health in Men's Health for link to article

Article: "Exercise May Ward Off Anger" - Charlene Laino, WebMD 



Image of article on health in Well for link to article 

Blog Article: "Phys Ed: Can Exercise Moderate Anger?"  - Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times


Image of article on health in Time Health for link to article


Article: "The Mindful Revolution" - Kate Pickert, Time Health