Dr. Nancy J. Smith-Vickery is a behavioral neuroscientist who earned her BA and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her doctoral studies, completed in 2023 under Dr. Michael Fanselow's mentorship, focused on the nuanced aspects of defensive behavior in animals, particularly freezing responses to threats. Challenging the binary view of freezing, she used markerless pose estimation and a custom unsupervised machine learning (UML) algorithm to identify distinct freezing postures correlated with different threat levels. Notably, her experiments revealed sex-specific learning outcomes in rats subjected to freezing punishment, with males adapting while females did not. Her recent work using UML analysis highlighted unique freezing postures in poorly performing females, suggesting a higher perceived threat state and, subsequently, higher placement on the Predatory Imminence Continuum (PIC). Throughout her UCLA career, Dr. Smith-Vickery collaborated on interdisciplinary projects exploring post-stress glucose effects on rats and humans, showcasing her commitment to bridging the gap between animal models and human experiences and advancing our understanding of stress effects on memory processes.