Abbie Kerr 

Director of Grants and Federal Affairs
  (202) 296-2741

Dr. Abbie Kerr serves as a Director of Grants and Federal Affairs in the firm’s Higher Education Practice. Drawing from over 10 years of professional experience in higher education, Abbie works closely with clients to secure federal and foundation grants that align with their institution’s mission and priorities. Throughout her professional experience, Abbie has helped to secure awards from a variety of funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education.

Prior to joining McAllister & Quinn, Abbie spent twelve years at Illinois Wesleyan University. Most recently, Abbie served as the Interim Chief Academic Officer of the institution. She was a professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, serving as the director of the Neuroscience program for five years. Abbie also served Illinois Wesleyan University as a Teaching Fellow for Undergraduate Research and the Associate Dean for Scholarly and Creative Work. In her time at Illinois Wesleyan, Abbie specialized in faculty development and grant support in addition to engaging in scholarship related to animal models of stroke rehabilitation. Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University, Abbie was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.

Affiliations and Awards:

Academic Advisor of the Year, 2022, Illinois Wesleyan University

College Panhellenic Professor of the Year, 2018, Illinois Wesleyan University

Publications and Events:

Peer reviewed Pubs (* indicates mentored undergraduate student):

Kerr, Abigail L. (2022). Contralesional Plasticity following Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy: Contributions of the Intact Hemisphere to Functional Recovery. Reviews in the Neurosciences, 33(3), 269-283.

Nemchek, Victoria*, Haan, Emma M. *, Mavros, Rachel*, Macuiba, Amanda*, & Kerr, Abigail L. (2021). Voluntary exercise ameliorates the good limb training effect in a mouse model of stroke. Experimental Brain Research, 39, 687-697.

Nemchek, Victoria*, Haan, Emma M. *, & Kerr, Abigail L. (2020). Intermittent skill training results in moderate improvement in functional outcome in a mouse model of stroke. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 35(1), 79-87. doi: 10.1177/1545968320975423.

Kerr, Abigail L., Curtis, Mark C*., Dominguez, Michelle*, & Viola, Victoria*. (2018). Post-stroke exercise is as effective as skilled rehabilitation: Effects in young and aged mice. Behavioral Neuroscience, 132, 604-613. doi: 10.1037/bne0000268.

Hylin, Michael J., Kerr, Abigail L., Holden, Ryan*. (2017). Understanding the mechanisms of recovery and/or compensation following injury. Neural Plasticity. 2017, 2-13.  doi: 10.1155/2017/7125057.

Kerr, Abigail L., Cheffer, Kimberly A. *, Curtis, Mark C. *, & Rodriguez, Angelica*. (2016). Long-term deficits of paretic limb follow post-stroke compensatory limb use in C57BL/6 mice. Behavioural Brain Research. 303. 103-108. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.01.055.

Bell, Jared A. *, Wolke, Malerie L., Ortez, Ryan C. *, Jones. Theresa A., & Kerr, Abigail L. (2014).  The effects of training intensity on functional outcome following unilateral ischemic insult of sensorimotor cortex in C57BL/6 mice. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 29, 590-598. doi: 10.1177/1545968314553031

Tennant, Kelly A., Kerr, Abigail L., Adkins, DeAnna L., Donlan, Nicole, Thomas, Nagheme, Kleim, Jeffrey A., & Jones, Theresa A. (2014). Age-dependent reorganization of peri-infarct “premotor” cortex with task-specific rehabilitative training in mice. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 29, 193-202. doi: 10.1177/1545968314541329.

Kerr, Abigail L. & Tennant, Kelly A. (2014). Compensatory limb use and behavioral assessment of motor skill learning following sensorimotor cortex injury in a mouse model of ischemic stroke. Journal of Visual Experiments, 89, e51602. doi:10.3791/51602.

Kerr, Abigail L., Wolke, Malerie L., Bell, Jared A. *, & Jones, Theresa A. (2013). Post-stroke protection from maladaptive effect of learning with the non-paretic limb by bilateral experience in C57BL/6 mice. Behavioural Brain Research. 252, 180-187. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.05.062.

Jones, Theresa Allred, Rachel, Jefferson, Stephanie, Kerr, Abigail, Woodie, Daniel, Cheng, Shao-Ying, & Adkins, DeAnna. (2013). Motor system plasticity in stroke models: Intrinsically use-dependent, unreliably useful. Stroke, 44[suppl], S104-S106. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.000037.

Swain, Rodney A., Berggren, Kiersten L., Kerr, Abigail L., Patel, Ami, Peplinski, Caitlin, & Sikorski, Angela M. (2012). On aerobic exercise and behavioral and neural plasticity. Brain Sciences, 2, 709-744. doi:10.3390/brainsci2040709.

Kerr, Abigail L., Cheng, Shao-Ying, Jones, Theresa A. (2011). Experience-dependent neural plasticity in the adult damaged brain. Journal of Communication Disorders, 34, 538-548. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2011.04011.

Swain, Rodney A., Kerr, Abigail L., & Thompson, Richard F. (2011). The cerebellum:  A neural system for the study of reinforcement learning. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 5:8. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2011.00008.

Kerr, Abigail L. & Swain, Rodney, A. (2011). Rapid cellular genesis and apoptosis in the hippocampus: Temporal effects of exercise in the adult rat. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125, 1-9. doi: 10.1037/a0022332.

Bauer, David J., Kerr, Abigail L., & Swain, Rodney A. (2011). Cerebellar dentate nuclei lesions reduce motivation. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 95, 166-175. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2010.12.009.

Kerr, Abigail L., Steuer, Elizabeth L., Pochtarev, Vera A., & Swain, Rodney A. (2010). Angiogenesis but not neurogenesis is critical for normal learning and memory acquisition. Neuroscience, 171, 214-226. (cited by Faculty of 1000). doi: 10.1026/j.neuroscience.2010.08.008.

Kerr, Abigail L., Hensel, Megan L., Peterson, Todd C., Villatoro, Lee O., Nye, Steven H., & Swain, Rodney A. (2010). Introgression of Brown Norway Chromosome 13 Improves Visual Spatial Memory in the Dahl S Rat. Behavior Genetics, 40(1), 76-84.  doi: 10.1007/s10519-009-9296-6.

Lectures and Invited Talks:

Kerr, Abigail L. (2022). Improving functional outcome: Lessons from a mouse model of stroke. American Psychological Association Convention. (Invited).

Kerr, Abigail L. (2022). Building and Sustaining a Research Career in Biopsychology: Critical Transitions. Skill-Building Session Co-Chair. American Psychological Association Convention. (Invited).

Kerr, Abigail L. (2019). Post-stroke CIMT, recovery, and repair. BRAIN and BrainPET: International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism biannual BRAIN meeting. Yokohama, Japan. (Invited).

Kerr, Abigail L. (2019). The good limb, the bad limb, and recovery: How does post-stroke experience impact functional outcome? University of North Carolina-Wilmington Psychology Colloquium. (Invited).

Kerr, Abigail L. (2019). The good limb, the bad limb, and recovery: What animal models tell us about recovery after stroke. McLean County History Museum Lunch and Learn. (Invited).

Kerr, Abigail L. (2018). Stroke, Rehabilitation, and Recovery: What can mice teach us about better treatment? Illinois Wesleyan University Faculty Colloquium Series.

Kerr, A.L. (2016). The good limb, the bad limb, and recovery: The impact of behavioral compensation and exercise on functional outcome after stroke. Southern Illinois University Neuroscience Speaker Series. (Invited).


  • Interim Provost/Chief Academic Officer, Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Associate Dean for Scholarly and Creative Work, Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Professor of Psychology and Director of Neuroscience Program, Illinois Wesleyan Univ.


  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology
  • Leadership development


B.A. (English), Wittenberg University

M.S. and Ph.D. (Neuroscience), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee