Sue Carter

C. Sue Carter, Ph.D.

Distinguished University Scientist
Rudy Professor Emerita of Biology

Dr. Sue Carter is a Distinguished University Scientist and Rudy Professor Emerita of Biology at Indiana University. A career biologist, Carter has studied the endocrinology of love and social bonds for more than three decades. She was the first person to detect and define the physiology of monogamy through her research on the prairie vole. These findings helped lay the foundation for the studies of behavioral and developmental effects of oxytocin and vasopressin in humans.

Dr. Carter served as Executive Director of the Kinsey Institute from 2014-2019.
 (812) 855-7686

428 Lindley Hall
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

Research interests

  • Social bonding
  • Role of oxytocin in mental disorders
  • Traits of monogamy and pair-bond formation

Research focus

Dr. Carter studies social bonding, male and female parental behavior, the social control of stress reactivity, and the social control of reproduction—often using animal models such as the socially monogamous prairie vole.

Carter's research focuses on neuropeptide and steroid hormones, including oxytocin, vasopressin, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and estrogen. Her program has discovered important developmental functions for oxytocin and vasopressin and implicated these hormones in the regulation of the neural effects of early social and hormonal experiences.


  • Ph.D., University of Arkansas
  • B.A., Drury College (Springfield, MO)

Additional appointments

Carter also has held professorships in psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to these positions she was a distinguished university professor in biology at the University of Maryland, and earlier was a professor of psychology and ecology, ethology and evolution at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Selected Publications


Carter C.S., Ahnert L., Grossmann K., Hardy S.B., Lamb M., Porges S.W., & Sachser N. (eds.) (2006) Attachment and Bonding: A New Synthesis. MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Carter, C. S., Lederhendler, I. I., and Kirkpatrick, B. (Eds.) 1997. The Integrative Neurobiology of Affiliation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 807. (Re-released by MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1999).

Articles & reviews

Carter, C.S. 2019. A focus on biology: Peptide pathways to human evolution. Open Access Government. October 2019: 258-259. Open access online

Carter, C.S. 2018. Birth and Beyond: The far-reaching influence of Oxytocin. Research Features. Open access online.

Carter, C.S. 2017. The oxytocin and vasopressin pathway in the context of love and fear. Frontiers in Endocrinology.

Yee, J.R., Kenkel, W.M., Frijling, J.L., Dodhia, S., Onishi, K.G., Tovar, S., Saber, M.J., Lewis, G.F., Liu, W., Porges, S.W., Carter, C.S. 2016. Oxytocin promotes functional coupling between paraventricular nucleus and both sympathetic and parasympathetic cardioregulatory nuclei. Hormones and Behavior, 80, 82-91. PMID: 26836772.

Yee, J.R., Kenkel, W.M., Kulkarni, P., Moore, K., Perkeybile, A.M., Toddes, S., Amacker, J., Carter, C.S., & Ferris, C.F. 2016. BOLD fMRI in awake prairie voles: A platform for translational social and affective neuroscience. NeuroImage (in press).

Rubin, L.H., Connelly, J.J., Reilly, J.L. Carter, C.S., Drogos, L., Pournjafi-Nazarloo, H., Ruocco, A.C., Keedy, S.K., Matthew, I. Tandon, N. Pearlson, G.D., Clementz, B.A., Tamminga, C.A., Gershon, E. S., Keshavan, M.S., Bishop, J.R., & Sweeney, J.A. 2016. Sex and diagnosis specific associations between DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene with emotion processing and temporal-limbic and prefrontal brain volumes in psychotic disorders. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 1, 141-151. PMID: 26977453.

Kenkel, W.M. & Carter, C.S. 2016. Voluntary exercise facilitates pair-bonding in male prairie voles. Behavioral Brain Research, 296, 326-330. Doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.09.028. PMID: 26409174.

Carter, C.S. 2014. Oxytocin pathways and the evolution of human behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 17-39.

Carter, C.S. & Porges, S.W. 2013. The biochemistry of love: An oxytocin hypothesis. EMBO Reports, 14, 12-16.

Carter, C.S. 1998. Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 23, 779-818.

Carter, C.S. 1992. Oxytocin and sexual behavior. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 16, 131-144.

Public scholarship
Interviews & Presentations - AUDIO Interviews & Presentations - VIDEO

Current grants


National Institutes of Health (NICHD), 4/2019-4/2024. R01 (HD 098112), PI: Jessica J. Connelly; CoPI: C.S. Carter Mechanisms of maternal brain changes with birth interventions.

CV available upon request

IU Signature