Before The IPN
We are proud of the wide range of backgrounds and experiences our students have before they join the IPN.
Click on the years below for an expanded background on our recent students.
Ismary graduated from Bard College in May 2014 with a B.A. in Biology. As an undergraduate, she worked with Dr. Michael Tibbetts, establishing zebrafish as a model organism to study the role of ADAM10a in axonal and dendritic proliferation as well as neuronal loss in relationship to Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the novelty of this project, Ismary was invited by the Bard Biology Department to present my research at their weekly Biology Series Seminars in April 2014. After Bard, Ismary earned a M.S. in Biology with a concentration on Molecular Biology at NYU, graduating in December 2015. While at NYU, Ismary worked under Dr. Daniel Meruelo at the Medical School where she isotopically labeled the nucleotide binding domain of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) for NMR studies to identify the residues in HSP70 which bound their compounds of interest, previously shown to increase the ATPase activity of HSP70. Following her Master’s, Ismary began working with Dr. Karin Hochrainer in the Brain and Mind Research Institute in the Neuroscience Department at Weill Cornell Medicine in August 2016. She is currently studying the role of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) ubiquitination at the Post Synaptic Density of the neuron in a mouse model of focal middle cerebral artery occlusion. Concomitantly, they worked on the transient aggregation of RNA binding proteins, such as TDP43 and hnRNP A1, during ischemia/reperfusion. The manuscript for the latter, for which she is co first author has been accepted and will be published in Scientific Reports.
Phillip graduated from the University of Maryland- College Park in May 2016 where studied biology and neuroscience. As an undergraduate, Phil worked on campus in the laboratory of Dr. Patrick Kanold, where he worked closely with graduate students researching cross-modal plasticity using 2-photon calcium imaging of dark-raised mice. Off campus, he interned for a summer with Dr. Rachel Ettinger at Medimmune, where he was brought on part time during his senior year. There, he studied the effects of various cytokines on the propagation of co-cultured leukocytes to further autoimmune research. As a result of his contributions there, he was a co-author in an article published in Science Translational Medicine, and another at Nature Communications. After graduation, Phil moved to Houston to join the Neuroimmunology Laboratory at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he worked primarily under Dr. Robert Dantzer. There he studied how neuroinflammation contributes to cancer and cancer-treatment related symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. He was a coauthor on work published in Cancer Research showing that IL-1 mediated neuroinflammation does not appear to be the primary driver of cancer-induced fatigue, as previously hypothesized. When not in the laboratory, Phil enjoys watching sports, skiing, and going to the beach.
Tahiyana Khan graduated from Temple University in 2015, with B.S.’s in both Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience and Biology. As an undergraduate, she studied cellular changes in a neonatal mouse model of cerebral palsy with Dr. Tanya Ferguson at Temple University School of Medicine. Following graduation, Tahiyana joined the laboratory of Drs. Virginia Lee and John Trojanowski at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, investigating the etiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with the goal of developing new disease treatments. Tahiyana studied functional motor recovery from TDP-43 proteinopathy in aged mice, resulting in a co-authorship publication. She was also heavily involved in a novel study assessing the role of microglia in the clearance of TDP-43 proteinopathy and subsequent motor recovery, published in Nature Neuroscience. Her interest in understanding spinal cord circuitry led her to start an independent project assessing the role of fast motor neuron marker MMP9 in motor neuron degeneration and is co-author on a manuscript which has been accepted for publication in Neurobiology of Disease. Additionally, she is co-writing a review on remyelination therapies for Multiple Sclerosis, which will be submitted to ACS Pharmacology. Outside of science, Tahiyana enjoys running, trying out different recipes, and visiting new places.
Marissa Laws will graduate in May from Lafayette College with a dual degree in Neuroscience and Mathematics and as a member of Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology. Her early research experiences included a 3-week freshman research exposure, and a summer at Brown University with Lafayette alumnus Dr. James Simmons. She investigated neural encoding of echolocation in bats, resulting in a poster presentation at Lafayette. In a year-long independent study under Dr. Luis Schettino, Marissa studied temporal constraints of the motor system in response to rapidly-changing visual information. This resulted in poster presentations at Lafayette, the Lehigh Valley Society for Neuroscience Conference, and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. In summer 2017, as part of Dr. Judy Cameron’s lab at the Center for Neuroscience at University of Pittsburgh, Marissa worked to develop a quantitative, objective method to longitudinally evaluate the neuropsychological effects of poverty and instability in children with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). She will co-author a publication on these methodologies. Marissa’s current honors thesis, under the advisement of Dr. Schettino, builds on her independent study; she developed and defended an experimental design and analysis strategy for investigating connections between mathematical cognition and grasping. She manages a team of undergraduates, is currently collecting data from adults and children, and will likely publish and present a poster on the results. Marissa is also President of Lafayette’s Dance Company, Secretary of the Music Appreciation Floor, and is involved in theatre, club softball, and the Environmental Awareness and Protection club.
Danielle will receive her B.S. in Neuroscience and Biochemistry with a minor in Biostatistics from Simmons College in May 2018. As an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. David Ginty’s lab at Harvard Medical School investigating abnormal tactile processing in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Danielle’s current work is aimed towards identifying treatments for improving tactile abnormalities in ASD mouse models, by reducing peripheral sensory neuron hypersensitivity. Danielle has presented posters pertaining to this research at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium in 2016 and 2017, the SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference in 2016, and ABRCMS in 2016 and 2017. Danielle also worked as a laboratory teaching assistant for Introductory Chemistry as well as Organic Chemistry 1 & 2 during her undergraduate studies. Outside of the laboratory, Danielle enjoys hiking, kayaking, and trying new restaurants.
Plamen Nikolov graduated with a B.S (2011) and received his M.S. (2013) in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University. During his undergraduate career, he worked in the EEG&BCI laboratory with Dr. Ou Bai at VCU Department of Biomedical Engineering; their research lead to the development of a novel motor-imagery brain-computer interface “switch,” which was published in Clinical Neurophysiology. Plamen’s master’s research was co-advised by Drs. Bai and Ding-Yu Fei at VCU. His thesis, “The effect of concurrent cognitive-visuomotor multitasking and task difficulty on dynamic functional connectivity in the brain,” explored the computational aspect of multitasking via EEG coherence analysis. Next, Plamen joined the Computational Cardiology lab under Dr. Natalia Trayanova at Institute for Computational Medicine and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University. There his research ranged from risk stratification to virtual ablation and termination of cardiac arrhythmias. Plamen developed organ scale, patient specific models from contrast enhanced MRIs and performed high performance computing simulations to investigate ventricular arrhythmias. Plamen has presented part of this work at American Heart Association and Gordon Research conferences. He has also co-authored multiple research papers and conference proceedings in Circulation, Journal of Cardiovascular magnetic resonance, and Heart Rhythm, a review article in Current Opinions in Biomedical Engineering and – most recently a research paper under review in Nature Biomedical Engineering. When not in lab Plamen enjoys playing chess, powerlifting, and tennis. He loves traveling the world in pursuit of the perfect dram – hoping to one day become a true whisky connoisseur.
Alison Schug graduated with honors from King’s College in 2016 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and Theatre. Her undergraduate thesis, under the mentorship of Dr. Joan Coffin, examined the effects of coloring on stress and looked at differences in effects when various color palates were used. After graduation, Alison worked at iFyber, a biomedical research and development company, under the advisement of Dr. Aaron Strickland, where she led a project testing the antimicrobial and chemical properties of wound dressings. She earned an M.S. in Integrative Neuroscience at Georgetown University in 2018. She worked in Dr. Josef Rauschecker’s Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition examining cortical plasticity and perception in cases of sensory deprivation. She worked alongside Dr. Maeve Barrett studying cross-modal plasticity associated with motion perception in early blind individuals and designing a study of multimodal paired association learning in sighted and blind individuals. Alison is interested in cognitive development and plasticity with a focus on language and creative thought. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the D.C. theatre scene, painting, and hanging out with her dog.
Karli Wensel graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2015 with a B.S. in Cellular Biology and Neuroscience. During her undergraduate career, she joined two research projects with Dr. Andrew Velkey exploring the effects of xenoestrogen exposures on male Betta splendens mating behaviors and sex differences in self-control for social reward. Their research revealed general trends towards decreased bubble nest maintenance after high estradiol exposure and preferences towards instant short rewards among both sexes. Karli and her colleagues presented their findings from both projects through poster presentations at the Christopher Newport University Paideia Conference. After graduating, Karli deferred her acceptance to American University’s M.S. in Biology program for a year to work at as a caretaker to her father, an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patient. Currently, Karli is working under the supervision of Dr. Victoria Connaughton to investigate the behavioral and anatomical differences caused by Riluzole treatment, the only FDA approved drug for ALS patients, in a relatively new model of zebrafish exhibiting the disease. She is the first to characterize the effects of long-term treatment in mutant SOD1G93R fish, contributing to the growing wealth of ALS research aimed at understanding and treating ALS at the molecular level. This past summer, Karli presented her initial behavioral findings through a data blitz presentation at the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience 5th Annual Retreat hosted by American University. Karli currently serves as the president of the department’s graduate journal club and spends her free time playing with her two dogs, Reggie and Drax.
Shiva Hassanzadeh-Behbahani graduated summa cum laude from George Mason University in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology. She worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Greg Trafton’s Predicting Cognition Laboratory and was awarded funding for her independent honors thesis work by the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Her thesis, “Interruptions can Change the Perceived Relationship Between Accuracy and Confidence,” was published in the Proceedings of the 2015 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. In addition to her thesis work, Shiva helped design and execute an eye-tracking experiment investigating sustained attention, which is currently under review for publication. During her senior year, Shiva served as the President of the George Mason chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. Upon graduation, she accepted a full-time research assistant and laboratory manager position with Dr. Xiong Jiang in the Department of Neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center. She currently manages a National Institutes of Health R01-funded study aimed at developing a novel functional MRI biomarker of asymptomatic HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) and has published preliminary results in a first-author abstract at the 7th International Workshop on HIV and Aging. This research has a strong potential to assist clinicians in diagnosing patients with HAND at early stages and to guide and evaluate medical treatments in the future. Outside of the lab, Shiva enjoys training for and running marathons.
Jessica Jacobs completed her undergraduate work in 2015 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, earning B.A.’s in both philosophy and psychology. During her undergraduate career, she worked with Dr. Eric Heuer on a project aimed at establishing the squirrel monkey as an animal model for Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy. Jessica presented this research at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference during her senior year and assisted in constructing a manuscript for publication, which has been accepted to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. During this time, Jessica also worked as a teaching assistant for a biopsychology course where she held regular office hours and served as a guest lecturer. Following graduation, Jessica was awarded a competitive Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Position in the Lab of Neuropsychology, working under Dr. Mortimer Mishkin and Dr. Bruno Averbeck. In her first year she worked under the supervision of Dr. Janita Turchi investigating the role of the dopamine system in habit memory formation. Concurrently, she worked with Dr. Richard Saunders, aiding in an examination of the connectivity of the primate claustrum employing retrograde tracers, and is currently working on a manuscript for this project. Most recently, under the supervision of Dr. Corrie Camalier, Jessica has been contributing to a study of the neural correlates of auditory spatial attention using in vivo recording techniques in various brain regions during an auditory spatial attention task. Jessica intends to one day become an independent investigator where she can continue her research into the mechanisms that underlie human cognition.
Holly Korthas graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2017 with a B.S in Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. During her undergraduate career, Holly studied the effects of estrogen signaling in the nucleus accumbens on cocaine addiction in females under Dr. Paul Mermelstein. During her time in Dr. Mermelstein’s lab, Holly was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program scholarship for her project investigating the identity of the estrogen receptors involved in mediating estrogen’s role in potentiating addiction. In 2016, Holly was accepted to the Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Molecular and Developmental Neurobiology at Rutgers University, where she studied the role of genetic polymorphisms in a mouse model of repeated mild traumatic brain injury in the lab of Drs. Janet Alder and Smita Thakker-Varia. Holly then spent a semester at the University of Minnesota in Dr. Andrew Oxenham’s lab, studying complex pitch perception in cochlear implants with vocoder simulations. Outside of the lab, Holly was Teaching Assistant for an upper division biology lab course, where students designed and executed their own research projects with zebra fish and bacterial models. Additionally, Holly has served as an editorial board member on the peer-reviewed undergraduate psychology journal Sentience at the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading and playing the French horn.
Kelly Martin graduated with honors from Boston University in 2014 with a B.A. in Neuroscience. Her undergraduate thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Jackie Liederman, reviewed how visual languages (e.g., ASL) may induce crossmodal plasticity in the auditory cortex of deaf individuals, and current theories on domain-general processing of perceptual information. After graduation she explored these concepts under Dr. David Somers, examining whether sensory-biased frontal attention networks process the spatial or temporal properties of stimuli regardless of visual or auditory presentation. She then shifted gears to work with Dr. Swathi Kiran, investigating the neuroplastic and behavioral effects of semantic feature therapy in aphasic stroke patients. She worked alongside speech pathologists to administer diagnostic tests and naming therapy, and collected and analyzed patients’ MRI data. In 2015, Kelly transitioned to Georgetown University to work with Dr. John VanMeter on a longitudinal study of adolescent development. She sought both independent and collaborative opportunities to learn structural and functional connectivity modeling, applying these tools to assess developmental differences between kids who initiated substance use in early adolescence compared to those who delayed initiation. These projects are in preparation for publication and have resulted in three posters, including a first author abstract that Kelly will be presenting at the 2017 Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting. Professionally, she enjoys learning neuroimaging methods and tinkering with programming languages, and her main scientific interests involve multisensory processing in the presence of ambiguity, damage, or disorder. Outside of science, Kelly can be found playing soccer, attending rock concerts, or watching baseball (Go Sox!).
George Melchor, Jr.
George S. Melchor, Jr. graduated from Austin College in 2017, with a B.A. in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience. As an undergraduate, in-course research allowed George to study the role of PA28γ, an upregulated proteasome activator across many cancers, in cancer development under Dr. Lance F. Barton. He also researched the effect of Huperzine A, a supplemental cognitive enhancer, on a series of behavioral memory performance tasks in Long-Evans rats under Dr. Renee Countryman. Additionally, George was a teaching assistant for multiple anatomy and physiology labs, sparking his interest in understanding neurological development. These experiences ultimately led to a student research position in Dr. Barton’s lab during the summer of 2016, in which George investigated the connection between PA28γ and the p53 –signaling pathway in cancerous cell transformation. He continued this research into the academic semester up until his graduation in January 2017. This research led to a poster presentation at the 2016 American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Annual Meeting, for which he won a Minorities Affairs Committee (MAC) travel award and gained special recognition for his presentation. George has a wide interest in the neurosciences, but is particularly intrigued by neurodegenerative disease and aging, their effect on cellular pathways and cognition, and translating research into possible therapeutics. When not in lab, George enjoys playing volleyball and tennis, drinking a good dark beer, and dancing.
Joseph is on the MD/PhD track at Georgetown University. He graduated magnum cum laude from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2014 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Prior to that, he had graduated summa cum laude from the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) in 2012 with an A.S. in Chemistry. He was awarded a full scholarship to transfer to UMBC after receiving a letter of recommendation from the CCBC president. While an undergrad, he worked at the NIH under Mortimer Mishkin, where he used retrograde tract tracers to visualize connections from the thalamus to the auditory cortex in macaques. He subsequently did post-bacc research at Johns Hopkins with Argye Hillis. There, he worked on using structural and functional MRI to understand the factors affecting acute stroke recovery, both with and without treatment with tDCS. This resulted in the authorship of 3 papers. After his post-bacc research he matriculated to the Georgetown where he completed the first two years of the medical school curriculum before starting at the IPN. He rotated with Guinevere Eden, Daniel Pak, and John VanMeter before beginning his thesis research with Rhonda Friedman and Peter Turkeltaub. His research interests include understanding the ability of the brain to rewire itself during to normal development, after injury, and as the result of treatment. His research will utilize functional imaging to understand the changes in connections between different functional areas of the brain after treatment for alexia due to stroke. In his free time, Joseph enjoys experimenting with cooking and seeing plays at local theaters.
Laya graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2014 with a BS in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. While at MIT, she worked in the lab of Dr. Ann Graybiel, using optogenetics to elucidate the role of rodent striatal circuits in decision-making and habit formation. She also worked with Dr. Kenneth Wexler to examine the acquisition of emotional prosody in young children. These diverse experiences helped develop an appreciation for the importance of integrating research questions across units of analysis. Laya then spent a post-bac year working under Drs. Derek Leroith and Emily Gallagher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine to explore interactions between insulin and cholesterol dysfunction and breast cancer in mouse models. This work resulted in a co-authored publication in Oncogene in 2017. She entered the MD/PhD program at Georgetown in 2015 and completed the preclinical years before joining IPN. Outside the lab, Laya enjoys figure skating, art museums, and exploring DC’s vibrant food and drink scene.
Andrew received a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. During all four years as an undergraduate, he worked in Dr. John Griffin’s Neurophysiology lab to elucidate the roles of different thermosensitive neuron populations of the mammalian hypothalamus in maintaining a core body temperature set point. He co-authored a publication which illuminated how endogenous molecules generated during an infectious process act to create and maintain a hyperthermic shift in body temperature. Andrew recently received his master’s degree in biochemistry from Georgetown University. Working as part of the Rebeck lab, Andrew investigated how activation of an anti-inflammatory transcription system may be altered in astrocytes of those at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. While at Georgetown, he also managed a study which examined the adverse effects of chemotherapeutic agents on the cognitive function and brain structure of mice with altered genetic risk profiles for Alzheimer’s disease. When not in the laboratory, Andrew plays goalkeeper on two soccer teams, trains for marathons, serves as a judge for K-12 science fairs, and volunteers his time at a free medical clinic for low-income residents.
Hannah graduated Magna Cum Laude from Sewanee in 2015, with a B.S. in Biology and Spanish, receiving honors in both majors and an M.S. in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University in 2016. During her undergraduate career, she conducted research with Dr. Elise Kikis, studying polyglutamine expansion in the neurodegenerative disease Machado-Joseph Disease (MJD). Their research revealed a polyglutamine model that aggregated in a length but not age-dependent manner when expressed in C. elegans’ body wall muscle cells. These data resulted in a co-authored paper titled “Novel Polyglutamine Model Uncouples Proteotoxicity from Aging”, which was published in PloS One in 2014. Hannah and her colleagues presented their findings through poster presentations at Northwestern University and Sewanee. As a Master’s student, Hannah began working in the laboratory of Dr. Ludise Malkova at Georgetown. Her thesis project focused on contributions of substantia nigra to sensorimotor gating in awake macaques. She presented her project at the 2016 biomedical master’s student research day. For the past year, Hannah has continued working in the Malkova Lab as a contributor to many projects, including one investigating contributions of the parahippocampus to nonnavigational spatial memory as well as work on pharmacological manipulation of Periaqueductal Grey (PAG). Hannah recently submitted a paper in Frontiers in Neuroscience with Drs. Malkova and Forcelli, titled “Defensive vocalizations and motor asymmetry triggered by disinhibition of the periaqueductal grey in non-human primates (2017).”In her spare time, Hannah enjoys yoga, knitting, and hiking with her dog, Chief.
Alan Fowler graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 2014 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Biology. After his sophomore year he began working with Dr. Michael Wolyniak on his independent research focusing on the characterization of two nuclear envelope proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. During the following two summers he continued this research in the lab of Dr. Charles Cole at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and in his senior year presented a poster at the Sigma Xi Research Society’s Conference. Outside of research, Alan was a teaching assistant for chemistry laboratories and a peer advisor for students interested in science and medicine. After graduating, Alan moved to Boston and joined the lab of Dr. Dong Kong in the Department of Neuroscience at Tufts University for summer research. There he focused on optimizing experiments for injecting neuropeptides secreted from AGRP and POMC neurons into the brain to observe their effects on glucose homeostasis. Most recently, Alan has been working for Drs. Mark Herman, Terry Maratos-Flier, and Jeffery Flier at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. In the Herman Lab, his projects have investigated the role of the transcription factor ChREBP in carbohydrate metabolism. In the joint Flier/Maratos-Flier lab, he has been investigating the endocrine factor FGF21 and its central actions on fertility and systemic adaptations to macronutrient diets. From these projects, Alan is co-author on three manuscripts for publication. In his spare time Alan enjoys being outside, running, and cooking.
Kevin Cook graduated from Skidmore College in 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology. While at Skidmore, he maintained an active role in two labs. As a member of Dr. Crystal Moore’s geriatric social work lab, he worked on projects targeting medical self-efficacy as well as coauthored an article on health care utilization among older adults. As a member of a positive psychology lab managed by Mark Rye PhD, Kevin coauthored two posters presented at APA conferences assessing positive effects of forgiveness and gratitude as well an article examining a novel depression treatment. After graduating, Kevin went on to obtain an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Hartford in 2012, where he worked closely with Denise LaFramboise PhD on projects examining body image and dysregulated eating. While at Hartford, Kevin spent a year on clinical internship, worked as a teaching assistant for an introductory statistics course, and, with two other students, established a graduate student association for the department. Since 2012, he has been at the Yale School of Medicine working with Silvia Corbera PhD and Bruce Wexler MD managing the day-to-day operations of a lab utilizing fMRI and EEG paradigms alongside behavioral assessments to examine social cognition and empathy in Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorders. As a member of the lab he has coauthored a number of posters presented at multiple conferences including the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the Society of Biological Psychiatry.
Kathleen Ammerman graduated from Penn State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology. She began her research career in the lab of Dr. Koraly Perez-Edgar studying cognitive development and temperament of behaviorally inhibited children. Since 2014, Kathleen has worked in Dr. Janet van Hell’s Bilingualism and Language Development lab studying individual and age related variation in second language learning using behavioral and EEG/ERP methods. In 2014, Kathleen was awarded a scholarship from the Ronald E. McNair Achievement program. As a McNair Scholar, she completed a project entitled “Lexical Processing in Child and Adult Second Language Learners” during the summer of 2015. She presented this research at the 2015 SROP and McNair Research Symposium, the 23rd Annual McNair Scholars Research Conference in Baltimore, MD, and presented a poster at PSUxLing2, the Penn State Undergraduate Exhibition in Hispanic and General Linguistics. Kathleen hopes to continue her work with language science and involvement in outreach to the bilingual and language learning community throughout graduate school.
Srikanth (Sri) Damera went to college at Columbia University. There he majored in Applied Mathematics which slowly shifted his research focus from bio-organic chemistry to computational neuroscience. He graduated in 2012 after which he worked for two years in the lab of Dr. Kareem Zaghloul at the NIH studying working memory and decision making through intracranial EEG and DBS recordings. Finally, he has been pursuing his MD/PhD at Georgetown University for the past two years. Outside of work Sri likes to run, drink good Belgian beer, and go to concerts.
Lauren Rosko graduated from Stony Brook University in 2011 with a dual Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology. As an undergraduate, she spent two and half years studying the effects of addiction on brain and behavior under Dr. Panayotis Thanos at Brookhaven National Laboratory. This research led to three collaborative publications and two poster presentations at the Society for Neuroscience. Following graduation, she began studying the connection between the central and enteric nervous systems in the laboratory of Dr. Martha Welch at Columbia University Medical Center. This experience led to one publication and one manuscript in progress. In 2013, she also completed a two-year Master’s program in biotechnology from New York University while working full time at Columbia University. She is interested in studying neurodegeneration in disease models.
Mondona McCann received a B.S. in Psychology with minors in Neuroscience and Persian Studies from the University of Maryland. She began her undergraduate research career studying secondary language acquisition under Dr. Michael Dougherty at UMD. In the summer of 2012 she was a student researcher at the Biomedical Research Institute of New Jersey where she researched enzymes involved in the endosomal/lysosomal pathway resulting in intracellular beta-amyloid accumulation in Alzheimer’s disease under Dr. Elizabeth Eckman and Dr. J. Pacheco-Quinto; this research was presented at the 2013 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. Following her junior year of undergraduate studies, she interned at Johns Hopkins University in Dr. Alena Savonenko’s neuropathology laboratory. Her research involved studying ultrasonic vocalizations in transgenic AD mice using the protocol she had written for Biobserve software. During her senior year at UMD, Mondona conducted research in Dr. Mary Ann Ottinger’s laboratory, where she investigated hepatic gene expression and the biochemical pathway leading to oxidative damage in liver tissue as a result of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls – the publication for this research is under review. After her bachelor’s, she was the manager of MdBio Foundation’s mobile laboratory (MdBioLab). The laboratory traveled to high schools across Maryland, where Mondona taught students a wide-range of scientific experiments. She designed an experiment where students perform an ELISA to diagnose a patient with Malaria. This activity was presented at the Maryland Association of Science Teachers annual conference in 2015. Outside of the lab, Mondona enjoys travelling, dancing, and playing basketball.
Nahdia Jones graduated from Boston University in 2016, with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. During her freshman year, Nahdia began her research career in the Advanced Cultural and Emotional Intelligence Laboratory assisting Dr. Stacy Doan on a project studying stress levels of children across cultures. Nahdia then went onto a position in the Laboratory of Cognitive Neurobiology where she worked under the supervision of Dr. Howard Eichenbaum. Nahdia is currently working on a project involving time cells, cells that bridge temporal delays, and their involvement in memory retention. From her work on this project, Nahdia has presented posters at the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program 2015 symposium and at SfN’s 45th annual meeting as part of the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience Poster Session, and her research has also been featured in Boston University’s Arts & Science magazine. During her final semester at Boston University, Nahdia will conduct a senior thesis, continuing her research on time cells. When she is not conducting research or studying, Nahdia can be found participating in martial arts classes, training for her next obstacle race, or outside playing Quidditch, hiking, or snowboarding.
Hassan graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and B.S. in Physiology with a Minor in Psychology. He began his undergraduate research career working in the lab of Dr. Wulfila Gronenberg, with whom he studied learning and classical conditioning in honeybees via their proboscis reflex. During sophomore year,Hassan was awarded a scholarship from the Ronald E. McNair Achievement program; as a McNair Scholar, he worked in the lab of Dr. Robin Polt and studied the antinociceptive effects of glycopeptides and their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. He presented this research at the University of Arizona Summer Research Conference in 2009. After graduating, Hassan worked as an instructor for Blue Sky, an organization for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, where he utilized a fitness-oriented and rehabilitative approach in dealing with such disorders. Hassan is currently working in the lab of Dr. Vittorio Gallo at the Center for Neuroscience Research in Children’s National Medical Center. He is studying the role of Sox 17 as a transcription factor in white matter injury and the effects of its deletion in the regenerative process in demyelinating lesions. Hassan hopes to continue his academic and personal approach to addressing brain related disorders by staying involved in mental health advocacy groups while in graduate school. Some of Hassan’s hobbies include hiking, playing cricket, and making inventions.
Adam’s prior training was in the field of physics, graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in math and physics from the University of Oregon in 2007, and earning his M.S. in Physics from Portland State University in 2013. He worked in a wide array of laboratory environments from experimental to theoretical. At the beginning of his undergraduate career, he worked as a lab assistant for Dr. Eric Selker, investigating DNA methylation of Neurospora crassa. During his junior year, he was awarded a competitive scholarship to study physics at the University of Bristol. Upon returning to Oregon, he began a computational modeling project in the solid state physics laboratory of Dr. Heiner Linke, for research concerning the thermoelectric properties of nanowires. Post-graduation, he spent a year at Brookhaven National Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Craig Woody, conducting experimental studies for the hadron blind detector (HBD), an upgrade to the PHENIX detector for use in the relativistic heavy ion collider (RHIC). The research led to four collaborative publications. For the following six years, he was employed as a federal physical scientist by the Bonneville Power Administration, responsible for the real-time operation of 31 federal dams on the Columbia, Willamette, and Snake rivers, as well as spearheading the development of an automated real-time model that is in use today for renewable energy integration and grid reliability by the power system operators. Concurrently, he completed his masters thesis under the mentorship of Dr. Pui-tak Leung, developing the theoretical framework of optics and spectroscopy in massive electrodynamic theory. His experience at Portland State University and interactions with faculty in biomedical departments kindled his interest in applying his physics background to the brain. These diverse fields of study have had a unifying theme of understanding complex dynamic processes through the lens of physics: reducing a problem to its constituent parts and constructing mathematical models to describe their activity through time.
Homero graduated from The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Medical Spanish. He will receive a M.S. in biology from UTPA in May 2015. Since 2012 he has worked in Dr. Plas’ lab where research is focused on neurodegenerative diseases. The lab is engaged in developing a new animal model that will contribute to the understanding of the cellular processes that lead to dopaminergic degeneration in Parkinson’s disease. Using a rotenone snail model, Homero has explored the role of reactive oxygen species in dopamine cell death. Homero has co-authored six poster presentations at different conferences. In 2014, he presented a first-author poster explaining findings on early neuronal consequences of rotenone at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Currently, he is writing up two manuscripts that summarize his work over the past year and a half in the lab. He will be the first author on a paper characterizing oxidative stress in the rotenone model, and has worked closely with another student and will be a co-author on a second paper describing the effects of rotenone on neuronal mitochondria. During his undergraduate career, Homero was an active member of the ‘Student Association for Medical Spanish’. The association’s main goal was to educate low-income communities about preventable diseases. In addition to his research and pursuit of master’s degree, Homero has taught undergraduate anatomy and physiology laboratories for four semesters.
Breana graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Spanish in 2015. While at Pitt, she worked in Dr. Julie Fiez’s lab, assisting with research that seeks to uncover the mechanisms underlying skilled reading. In particular, the Fiez Lab is investigating the self-teaching hypothesis of orthographic learning in the adult population. Breana composed an undergraduate thesis based on this work. She was involved in a second phase of the research, in which subjects are trained in a artificial orthography for English. Her research interests include second language acquisition and bilingualism; she spent her summer seeing these in action at the Virginia Governor’s Spanish Academy, a three-week immersion program for high school students where she served as a Resident Assistant. When she isn’t in the classroom or the lab, Breana is on the water, as a coxswain for the University of Pittsburgh Rowing Team.
Nelson spent most of his youth in Colombia, South America. After moving to the United States, he earned a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of South Florida and an M.S. in Computer Science from the George Washington University. He has most recently taken post-baccalaureate pre-medical courses at Georgetown University. During his time at Georgetown, he has worked at the Laboratory for Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (MAXLAB) under Dr. Riesenhuber. He was initially tasked with creating “sticky” custom platform independent applications which can record scientific data precisely. His applications have been deployed to OSX, Windows, and Android with possible future expansion to iOS, PS3, and XBOX. For his contributions to the project, he earned a co-authorship on an abstract at the most recent Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (“Extensive practice of a visual categorization task leads to the learning of category-selective representations in anterior temporal cortex”). He continues to be involved with the project by using machine learning techniques to classify EEG data using Matlab and LibSVM. Nelson is interested in developing theoretical models of the brain with the goal of designing better and faster ways to teach the brain. Specifically, he hopes to learn more about how the hippocampus, neocortex and other areas interact to form long-term memories. Nelson has also recently worked as a Physics teaching assistant at Georgetown under Dr. John Currie, as a portrait painter, and as a fashion photographer specializing in high fashion.
Cameron is a graduate of Duke University, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience in 2014. Cameron began his neuroscience research career at The Scripps Research Institute, where he was awarded a summer research fellowship in the lab of Dr. Chitra Mandyam to study the effects of addiction on hippocampal neurogenesis. While pursuing undergraduate studies, Cameron worked as a research assistant in the lab or Dr. Marty Woldorff at the Duke Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, where Cameron researched the neural cascade of processes underlying attention and cognitive control using EEG. Complementary to his research, Cameron participated in the Duke Neurohumanities in Paris program, an interdisciplinary study of the cultured and mimetic brain. In his senior year, Cameron designed a novel behavioral paradigm to investigate the effects of differential time-on-task on the electrophysiological correlates of conflict processing as part of an independent study project in the Woldorff lab. Currently, Cameron is employed as a full-time associate in research and lab manager in the Woldorff lab, where he is investigating auditory processing in cochlear implant users using both EEG and auditory brainstem response measures. Cameron is first author on a poster based on his research in the Woldorff lab that he will present at the 2015 Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, and his article titled “Lying and Privacy in the Twenty-First Century” was published in the Fall 2013 issue of Neurogenesis: The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience. In his spare time, Cameron enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing the trumpet and sousaphone in the Duke Alumni Marching and Pep Band.
Katie O’Connell graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 2013 with a BS in Biology At Penn State, she worked under Dr. Stephen Wilson to investigate cigarette addiction using methods from affective and cognitive neuroscience. Her independent research focused on white matter structural integrity of cigarette smokers and explored sex differences in brain and behavior. After graduating, Katie received an Intramural Research Training Award to work at the National Institute of Mental Health. At the NIH, she worked under Drs. Christian Grillon and Monique Ernst in the Section on Neurobiology of Fear and Anxiety. Katie studied control and patient populations to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying normal and maladaptive anxiety. This work combined techniques from psychophysiology, psychopharmacology and neuroimaging. Katie focused on studying the functional connectivity of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) using ultra-high field fMRI and presented these findings at a Maryland Neuroimaging Conference. She has co-authored presentations for the Society for Neuroscience and the Resting State & Brain Connectivity Conferences and first-authored four additional presentations at various conferences and symposiums. Katie is also interested in the neurodevelopment of reward systems and co-authored a publication concerning the Triadic Systems Model perspective of adolescent motivated behavior. She is interested in studying neural networks involved in affective, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience.
Stephanie Sloley attained a B.S. in Biopsychology in 2011 from Tufts University, where she conducted pharmacological research on interventions for psychological disorders in the Psychopharmacology Laboratory. There, under the guidance of Drs. Klaus Miczek and Joseph DeBold, she completed an honors thesis project which examined the effects of novel agonists and antagonists of the GABAA receptor on anxiety-like behavior in mice. After graduation, she worked for two years in a neuropharmacology laboratory at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine with Dr. Sari Izenwasser, where she examined the effects of diet on drug reward and drug seeking behavior in rats. For the last 18 months, Stephanie has been conducting research with Dr. Ian Hentall on the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. There, she works on studies of deep brain stimulation as an intervention for traumatic injuries to the spinal cord and brain, as well as neurodegenerative disorders. She is responsible for fabricating the micro-stimulators used on rats and mice in these studies, as well as performing implantation surgeries and analyzing brain and spinal cord tissue upon completion of experiments. Her work at the Miami Project has fostered a desire to continue to conduct translational and therapeutic research on neural injury and illness. Stephanie has co-authored two publications detailing the composition of the proteome of the retina and optic tectum of a novel model for studies on age-related macular degeneration based on her work with Dr. Sanjoy Bhattacharya at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
Patrick graduated from Emory in 2012, where he studied neuroscience and computer science. He completed his undergraduate thesis with Keith Tansey in the area of spinal cord plasticity and electrophysiology. After graduation, Patrick moved to DC and spent a year at the NIH in Mark Hallett’s lab, studying patients with movement disorders using various imaging techniques such as fMRI and DTI. He entered Georgetown’s MD/PhD program in the fall of 2013, and has been in med school for the last 2 years. Outside of academics, He enjoys skiing (on water or snow) and being active.
Nate graduated from Rice University with degrees in Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Cognitive Sciences, and Psychology. As an undergraduate student, Nate was fortunate enough to have had the opportunities to work in various research labs, including neuroimaging, molecular neuroscience, and metagenomics. After graduating, he joined the MD/PhD program at Georgetown, and has worked with Dr. Hyang-Sook Hoe and Dr. Maximilian Riesenhuber during the past two summer rotations.
Sikoya graduated from Duke University in 2012 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Spanish. At Duke, she worked in Michael Platts Cognitive Neuroscience lab. There she investigated the role of serotonin in risk-behaviors by examining knock-out mice missing dopamine or serotonin transporters. As a senior, she worked in the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center (BIAC), under Michele Diaz, where she analyzed resting state data and the effects of warm-cold word cues on gambling. Sikoya also designed and executed an fMRI experiment that evaluated performance on a novel visual search task in which the targets were words hidden within a set of sentences [with grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation being the distractors]. Outside of the lab and classes, Sikoya tutored ESL for native Spanish speakers at a pregnancy center, and she assisted in establishing Campamento Sonrisas, a summer camp in Cartago, Costa Rica. Sikoya currently is tutoring math and Spanish to high school and college students. She is especially interested in studies of language, sleep, and alternative medicine that may suggest new strategies to improve cognitive fitness, i.e., the efficiency of connectivity between neurons involved in executive functions to handle complex cognitive tasks.
Lorenzo graduated from George Mason University in 2010 with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Biology. He will receive his MA from GMU in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience in 2014. In Dr. Jane Flinn’s lab he investigated the role of metals in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), given that metal dyshomeostasis has been identified as a hallmark of the AD brain. By utilizing a mouse model of AD, he has evaluated behavioral deficits induced by dietary manipulations of metals and he has quantified expression of the vesicular zinc transporter 3 (ZnT 3) protein in the hippocampus. Since 2012, he has co-authored five posters presented at the SfN annual conferences. At SfN 2013, he was first-author on a poster that presented the findings of a study profiling circadian rhythms and inflammatory cytokine expression in a novel mouse model of late-onset AD. He is 2nd author on two manuscripts recently submitted for publication. Lorenzo was twice awarded a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research and in 2013 he was the recipient of the Henry H. Work Science Award from the Cosmos Club Foundation, which supported his study of metal transporters. Since 2012 he has been teaching labs in neuroanatomy and in 2013 he received the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. He is particularly interested in researching molecular and cellular pathways involved in neurodegeneration. He is also interested in the development of better mouse models of human disease.
Edith graduated summa cum laude from the University of Puerto Rico, Ro Piedras in 2013 with a BA in Psychology. During her undergraduate studies, she was awarded a two-year neuroscience research fellowship sponsored by NIH BP-ENDURE; she worked in Dr. Gregory J. Quirks Lab. Ediths research deals with determining the neural circuits of active-avoidance expression in rats using pharmacological inactivation during a novel platform-mediated avoidance task. Through this research she developed her honors thesis titled A Cortico-Striatal Circuit for Expression of Active Avoidance. In addition, she co-authored a manuscript (Neural Structures Mediating Expression and Extinction of Platform-Mediated Avoidance), which is in review for publication. During the summer of 2012 she examined the influence of acute stress on extinction recall working under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth A. Phelps at New York University. This work led to her coauthorship on a paper Acute Stress Impairs the Retrieval of Extinction Memory in Humans. Edith is currently completing her Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate fellowship in the Brodkin Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. She is exploring the development of social behaviors in mouse models relevant to negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition to her passion for research, Edith has worked in several outreach efforts, such as: educational research collaborations with non-profit organizations, mentoring, teaching basic science units, and science-into-the-community initiatives. Currently, she serves as mentor of an undergraduate student at Penn through the Graduate School Mentoring Initiative as well as teaching science basics to 3rd grade students through the Science Education Academy.
Stephanie is on the MD/PhD dual-degree track at Georgetown University. She graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University in May 2011, with Dr. Elizabeth Bauer on the role of L-type Voltage-Gated Calcium channels in fear learning and extinction of rats. Specifically, she studied the effects of verapamil injection into the basolateral amygdala. The results were published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2012. Following graduation, Stephanie spent six months at the Brain Mind Institute at EPFL, lausanne, Switzerland. She has just finished her second year of Medical School at Georgetown, and is excited to get started on the PhD component of her degree. Stephanie is Greek-American, and has spent time growing up, working and living between the two countries and cultures. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys cycling and PowerYoga, in which she is a certified teacher.
Catherine graduated from Saint Josephs University in 2014 with a BS in Biology and minors in Behavioral Neuroscience and History. In a freshman year honors genetics class, Catherine isolated and characterized a novel mycobacteriophage. Her first research experience as an undergraduate was in the lab of Dr. John Tudor, investigating the genetic origins of predation behavior in the bacteria Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. She presented a poster of her research at Swarthmore University during a microbiology symposium. Subsequently she worked in the lab of Dr. James Watrous, using the computer software SNNAP (Simulator for Neural Networks and Action Potentials) to create a simulation of the suprachiasmatic nucleus during day and night cycles. Her senior thesis work focused on sudden light activation of the SCN during the night cycle. Catherine will present her thesis work at the Experimental Biology conference in April as a poster. Catherine has received mentorship experience through the McNulty Scholars Program, which promotes leadership for young women in the STEM fields. She is a private tutor in high school chemistry and mathematics, and works in the emergency room at Saint Michaels Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey as a health care access representative. Her research interests focus on systems and cellular neuroscience. She is interested in exploring behavioral neuroscience, epigenetics, and neurodegenerative diseases as possible research topics.
Kelly graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 2009 with a BA in International Development. As a member of UVAs Echols Scholar program, she created an interdisciplinary major that examined the political, economic, and cultural variables that influence the development of a region; her honors research thesis examined the rise of women-focused development initiatives on the international stage. After graduating, Kelly spent 13 months in Nicaragua managing a community development program and teaching courses in life science, nutrition, and English. After two years working in development consulting, she joined George Mason Universitys Cognitive Science program. As a post-baccalaureate student and research assistant under James Thompson and Martin Wiener, Kelly used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study the effects of auditory rhythms on human corticospinal excitability. After presenting an abstract of this work at SfN, she first-authored a paper that is now under review for publication. Kellys current work spans cognitive science, neuroscience, and motor physiology, and this spring she will be collaborating on a study involving timing deficits in individuals with traumatic brain injury. In addition to her work with rhythms and temporal processing, she is also collaborating on behavioral, TMS and functional magnetic resonance imaging studies focusing on spatial navigation and distance perception. Kelly enjoys mentoring undergraduate research assistants, learning new coding methods, and participating in journal club. Outside of the lab, she loves going to concerts, hiking, and playing soccer.
Jeremiah received a BA in Neuroscience from Franklin & Marshall College in 2009, where he studied motor physiology in a mouse model of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. While at Boston University School of Medicine, Jeremiah studied glial activation and histotoxicity following repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in a feline model of hemiagnosia in the laboratory of Drs. Richard Rushmore and Antoni Valero-Cabre. His results supported the safety of chronic low frequency rTMS. Jeremiah most recently worked in the laboratory of Dr. Larry Benowitz at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School studying CNS regeneration. These projects included gene therapy studies utilizing viral vectors to genetically modify retinal ganglion and glial cells to stimulate regeneration of axons in the optic nerve. While a student at BUSM, Jeremiah enjoyed serving as both a teaching assistant and tutor to first year medical students and he has also taught in medical and graduate school courses. Jeremiah maintains a strong interest in translational neuroscience and looks forward to helping patients with debilitating neurological conditions.
Alberto will graduate from the University of Rochester in May 2014 with a BS in Neuroscience. For two years he worked in Dr. Ben Haydens neuroeconomics lab, examining behavioral and electrophysiology data from non human primates. Though his involvement in the Hayden Lab, he has become proficient in the use of Matlab, Brainsight, Plexxon and NaN as well as eye trackers to study the neural basis of choice. For his PhD research he would like to delve deeper into cellular and molecular neuroscience, specifically neurochemistry and neuropharmacology. In addition to his research, Alberto has considerable teaching experience in undergraduate Mammalian physiology and anatomy. He also tutored on behalf of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. Alberto played two years of Rugby, winning one D III state championship. Alberto’s other passions include SCUBA diving (especially in wrecks and caves), whitewater kayaking and the study of languages. He is fluent in Spanish, French and English, and has taken a year of college Italian.
Kaela graduated from Agnes Scott College (ASC) in May of 2014, with a BS in Neuroscience and Classical History and Culture. As an undergraduate, she was awarded the Behavioral Research in Neuroscience Fellowship from Georgia State University, and worked with Dr. Michael Black examining the molecular effects of cocaine on an invertebrate models, and later presented this work at the Society for Neuroscience conference. Additionally, she received a NIH fellowship funded by the BP-endure program that allowed her to work at Emory University with Dr. Gretchen Neigh, studying the neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of HIV transgenic rats in relation to stress and depression, as well as examining the role of cerebral vasculature in depression in macaque monkeys. During the summer of her sophomore year, she worked at Vanderbilt University in Dr. Kate Ellacotts lab examining the consequences of insulin resistance in primary rat astrocytes. Kaela has also received training from Dr. Jennifer Larimore at ASC and Victor Faundez at Emory, where her project has focused on identifying the underlying mechanisms of Rett Syndrome by examining vesicle trafficking. She is the vice president of the ASC chapter of Nu Pho Psi as well as the secretary of Eta Sigma Phi, both national honor societies in Neuroscience and Classical Studies, respectively. Her current research interest revolve around understanding the neurological mechanisms responsible for altering physiological behavior, and specifically the consequences this has on inflammation.
Gabrielle-Ann graduated from the University of Arizona with a major in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences. Since 2012, she has worked in the Brain Imaging, Behavior and Aging Lab under Dr. Gene Alexander to investigate markers for cognitive decline in healthy aging. In 2013, she was awarded the Galileo Circle Scholarship for excellence in research and helped to present five SFN abstracts that she coauthored. Recently, she began work on an independent honors thesis to investigate morphological differences in neuropsychological performance splits using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis, also addressing aging patterns related to verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning skills. In addition to volunteering with an adult literacy group, she has served as a teaching assistant in undergraduate courses on Cellular Neurophysiology, Biostatistcs, Molecular and Cellular Biology of Neurons, and Intriguing Themes in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. A creative non-fiction writer, she has won awards for her writing, which she uses in hopes to communicate scientific research to a broadened audience.
John graduated from Saint Josephs University in 2011 with a BS in Psychology. His undergraduate research in his senior year with Dr. Alexander Skolnik examined the gender differences of emotional experience and expression. He also volunteered in the the Lankenau Hospital emergency department, contributing 200 hr over a two year period, and at The Cape Counseling Services for a summer, where he helped provide psychological and medical therapy. Following graduation, John received an NIH IRTA fellowship. He conducted research under Dr. William Gahl in the Undiagnosed Diseases Program where he identified genetic mutations associated with rare diseases. John gave monthly lab meeting presentations and co-authored three papers which are currently in various stages of the publication process, and one that was just published in June 2013 in Neuromuscular Disorders, “Novel SNP array analysis and exome sequencing detect a homozygous exon 7 deletion of MEGF10 causing early onset myopathy, areflexia, respiratory distress and dysphagia (EMARDD).” Johns second year of IRTA research at the NIH was in the systems neuroscience lab of Dr. Charles Gerfen where he has helped the lab create a database of transgenic mouse lines containing recombinant proteins in specific neuron populations.
Chinyere graduated from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County in May 2008 with a BS in Biological Sciences. She then obtained an MS in Biotechnology in 2011 from the Johns Hopkins University while working in the endocrinology laboratory at the Shady Grove Fertility and Reproductive Science Center as a medical technologist. For the past year, she has been conducting research in the lab of Dr. Herbert Geller at the NIH, investigating the function and interactions of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans and the binding partners of plasticity-related genes 3 and 5. These proteins have been implicated in increased axonal outgrowth in cerebellar granule neurons and filopodia outgrowth when transfected into cos7 and Hek293 cells. Chinyere has found that although these proteins are part of the lipid phosphate phosphatase family, they exhibit no phosphatase activity. After elucidating the binding partners of PRG3 and PRG5, she hopes to identify antagonists to the effects of CSPGs on axonal outgrowth. Chinyeres project is a collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Urbachs lab, aimed at determining factors that guide axon growth cones in confined environments. Chinyere expects the project to have implications for promoting axon growth to treat spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. When not in the laboratory, she is busy with her three children, and reading and writing short stories.
Brittany graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2010 with a BS in Biology, emphasizing Neuroscience. As an undergraduate, she was awarded the Minority Health & Health Disparities International Research Training scholarship and spent a summer working at the University of Valencia in Spain under the tutelage of Dr. Alexander Neef. Her work genetically sequencing Blattabacterium, an endosymbiont involved in nitrogen recycling, was presented at the 2009 Sigma Xi conference. Upon returning to UC Irvine, she began work in Dr. Carl Cotmans lab investigating the effects of inflammation on retrograde axonal trafficking in Alzheimers, culminating in a co-first authored paper in JBC, A oligomers impair BDNF retrograde trafficking by down-regulating ubiquitin-C-terminal hydrolase, UCH-L1. Concurrently, she participated in several other projects, focusing on apoptotic signaling and stereotaxic stem cell therapies, and is a co-author on three manuscripts from these studies. After graduating, Brittany continued in the Cotman lab and started working in the UCI Alzheimers Disease Research Center, managing the Human Tissue Repository and assisting with clinical trials. This led to several collaborations, including a flow cytometry manuscript with Dr. Karen Gylys at UCLA, a SNP genotyping project with Dr. Craig Stark, and mentorship from an ADRC pathologist, Dr. Ronald Kim. Brittanys research interests include examining the role of adult neurogenesis in the context of psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative disease, as well as the healthy aged. In addition to science, Brittany is an avid hiker, part-time bartender, vinyl collector, political junkie and amateur ukulele player.
Jeff graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002, earning a B.A. in Biology with a double major in Biology and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP). As an undergraduate, Jeff’s first research experience was in Dr. Laura Dugan’s neuroscience of aging laboratory, using mouse models to study the effects of fullerene-based antioxidants on neurodegenerative disorders and aging. He then joined Dr. Kathleen McDermott’s Memory and Cognition lab, where he used fMRI to study the false memory phenomenon in humans. Jeff spent the next two years doing research in a cardiothoracic surgery laboratory at Washington University School of Medicine under Dr. Charles Huddleston and Dr. Richard Schuessler. Jeff’s research on pediatric lung transplantation, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, and cardiomyocyte function earned him co-authorship on publications in Annals of Surgery, Annals of Thoracic Surgery and Journal of Thoracic and Cardiothoracic Surgery, as well as two abstracts in the journal Circulation. Following these research experiences, Jeff attended medical school for one year at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), subsequently leaving to pursue other interests. Jeff then spent four years as a staff scientist and consultant for the flavor industry, using biochemistry and toxicology to evaluate the safety and regulatory prospects of various food additives. For the past two years, Jeff has been working at NIMH in the Section on Integrative Neuroimaging under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Berman, using multi-modal imaging (MRI, fMRI, PET) and genetic analyses to study psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, Parkinsons disease and Williams syndrome. Jeff presented posters on this research at the Society of Biological Psychiatry meeting, wherein he was nominated for Best Poster Award, as well as at the International Williams Syndrome Associations annual meeting. Jeff is interested in using neuroimaging and genetics to explore the neural circuitry involved in psychiatric disease, language comprehension, emotion, and developmental disorders.
Shady El Damaty
Shady completed a BSc in Neuroscience, with a minor in philosophy of science, at the University of Rochester in 2011 and an MSc in Biomedical Science from Drexel University in 2013. He is interested in understanding how neural ensembles self-organize in space and time to influence behavior in response to a persistently changing world. As a student at Rochester, Shady was awarded the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholarship for minority students aspiring to pursue Ph.D. training. He went on to publish a paper in bio-organic chemistry with Dr. Rudi Fasan and perform research in immunology with Dr. Jacques Robert subsequently receiving an undergraduate prize for his work on MHC molecules involved in tumor recognition. Subsequently, Shady joined Dr. Joshua Jacobs’ cognitive neuroscience lab at Drexel, where he expanded his skills and interests in computation and engineering. After enrolling in the master’s thesis program, Shady developed artificial neural network models, clinical graphical user interfaces (GUIs), and contributed to the development of toolboxes for analyzing human intracranial EEG data. Shady’s master’s thesis research addresses how content-specific neural activity is spatiotemporally organized and how that organization changes with stimulus content. Specifically, his research describes the patterns of activity distinguishing individual letter and word identities from human intracranial ECoG recordings. Shady is particularly interested in developing robust signal processing and statistical methods to illustrate the rich dynamics of human brain networks involved in cognitive processes.
Mackenzie graduated summa cum laude from the College of William and Mary in 2007 with majors in Philosophy and Linguistics; her thesis on the social impacts of non-standard dialect use received high honors. She presented research she conducted on African-American English in the lab of Dr. Anne Charity-Hudley at several national conferences In 2009 she received an MS in speech-language pathology from the University of North Carolina. As a graduate merit fellow, Mackenzie worked as a teaching assistant to Dr. Nancy Helm-Estabrooks and a research assistant to Dr. Katarina Haley, investigating the differential diagnosis of speech and language disorders following neurological injury. Since 2009, Mackenzie has worked as a speech-language pathologist at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in DC, where she assesses and treats a variety of neurological disorders and supervises Masters students. She presented her study on group therapy as a social context for treating severe, non-fluent aphasia at two national conferences, including the 2012 Clinical Aphasiology Conference, and has submitted a manuscript for publication. She has also been working with Dr. Peter Turkeltaub on a study of transcranial direct current stimulation to enhance post-stroke language recovery; she presented their results at the DC Speech and Hearing Association meeting in February 2013. Mackenzie is interested in using imaging to identify mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of standard treatments for aphasia and hopes to investigate interdisciplinary approaches to language recovery, such as pharmacological intervention and brain stimulation.
Vivianne graduated from Bard College in 2009 with a BA in Psychology and a concentration in neuroscience. At Bard, her research with Dr. Frank Scalzo explored the pathophysiology of phantom limb syndrome. In 2007, with Dr. Michael Panneton at St. Louis University, Vivianne studied the role of the brainstem in initiating the mammalian diving response, coauthoring an abstract from this study. From 2008 to 2010, Vivianne worked with Dr. Melody Swartz at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute, investigating cancer cell migration and lymphatic drainage. After receiving her BA, Vivianne studied medicine for three years at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and worked in the abdominal surgery and intensive care units at the Vaudois University Hospital. In 2011, in the lab of Dr. Isabelle Dcosterd, Vivianne contributed to a pilot study on the turnover of blood-brain barrier tight junction proteins in a mouse model of neuropathic pain. In 2012-13, Vivianne was a lab manager for Dr. Eric Glasgow at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she worked with zebrafish models of tumorigenesis in neural tissue, and she mentored undergraduate and Masters students. Vivianne chose to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience research, focusing on glial cells in early brain development, to contribute to what is known about the fundamental biology of the mammalian brain and provide insights that may, in the future, inform studies of novel therapies for neurodegenerative disorders involving glia.
Nathan graduated from Humboldt State University (HSU) in 2008 with a BA in Psychology. He then spent two years designing and implementing positive behavioral programs for mentally disabled children and adults. In 2013, he completed an MA in Biological Psychology at HSU, where he studied the proprioceptive role of the lateral line in zebrafish in Dr. Ethan Gahtans Behavioral Neuroscience lab. This work aims to establish zebrafish as a model for movement disorders, and to elucidate the neural circuitry of the vertebrate hindbrain. Nathan presented a poster on this work at SfN in 2012. For his Masters thesis, he examined proprioception in older larvae via behavioral analysis following pharmacological neuromast ablation. Nathan also has received training in stem cell culture and directed differentiation funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine under Dr. Amy Sprowles, and he assisted her research on alternate modes of transcriptional regulation of OCT4 by TCF4/AP1/c-Jun. As a graduate TA,Nathan helped teach Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience and Health Psychology. Nathans research interests include finding novel regenerative treatment modalities for neurodegenerative disorders and acute brain trauma, and the behavioral analysis of treatment outcomes. He is experienced in confocal microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and genetic engineering. Outside of the lab he enjoys bicycling, sport-kiting, social dancing, and playing Go.
Rachael graduated from The George Washington University in 2009 with a B.A. in French Language and Literature and minors in Speech and Hearing Science and Linguistics and in 2011 with an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology. While a masters student, Rachael was awarded a Columbian Women Scholarship and University Fellowship from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences for academic achievement. As a graduate teaching and research assistant, she led undergraduate and graduate students in lab sections for Introduction to Acoustics and Introduction to Phonetics and completed over 400 hours of supervised therapeutic intervention. Rachael worked in Dr. Diane Brewers lab as a test clinician, research assistant, and writer for a study entitled Efficacy of levels of AR intervention and integrated auditory self-training with adult cochlear implant users, and in Dr. Adrienne Hancocks lab as a researcher for a study entitled Validity of the Transgender Self-Evaluation Questionnaire. She also worked with Dr. Hancock for her masters thesis, An aerodynamic analysis of airflow, pressure, and glottal contact in sustained vowels of male-to-female and female-to-male transgender speakers, a version of which was published in 2011. Rachael is currently completing her clinical fellowship for certification from the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association in intervention for speech, language, voice, cognition, and swallowing after stroke and with general aging in the geriatric population. Her current research interests include intervention techniques for language and cognition after stroke focusing on premorbid strengths and abilities and the application of neuroplastic principles to intervention for language and voice.
Lanier received a BS in Biology from the University of Georgia in 2010. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer at Emory University, assisting in clinical research on severe asthma in children, under Dr. Anne Fitzpatrick. After graduating, she began working as a research specialist in Dr. Paul Doetschs lab in the Emory University School of Medicine Department of Biochemistry. At Emory she has been investigating DNA damage repair and the effects of oxidative damage and ionizing radiation on genomic instability, which can contribute to the development of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The main focus of her research has been the effects of both endogenous and exogenous sources of oxidation and their effects on mutation rates in yeast as well as the role reactive oxygen species play in the DNA damage response. Lanier hopes to use her experience with DNA damage repair to segue into investigating neurodegenerative diseases and aging.
Scott graduated from Old Dominion University in 2010 with BS degrees in Biology and Psychology, and a BA in Philosophy. As an undergraduate, he collaborated on several research projects, focused on the examination of cognitive control. For his honors thesis in Psychology, under Dr. Ivan Ash, he helped design and administer a task aimed at understanding how individual differences in working memory affect attentional strategy. This work led to the presentation of an abstract he co-authored, The role of working memory capacity in attentional filtering, at the 2009 Psychonomic Annual Meeting. During a summer internship in the lab of Dr. Ernst Niebur at Johns Hopkins University, Scott helped develop an algorithm in MATLAB simulating the visual selection of regions of interest in human observers. His work with Dr. Gyorgy Lonart at Eastern Virginia Medical School led to another conference presentation, The impact of Fe Radiation on executive function in rats three-months post-exposure, at the APS Annual Convention in 2010. After graduating, Scott worked at in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He administered fMRI examinations and assisted with the collection of data using MEG. In addition to his passion for science, Scott also enjoys performing music. He won first place in the ODU Idol contest as an undergraduate. He recently recorded an album of his own songs, featuring the Boston String Quartet. Scott is interested in the use of imaging technology to understand the uniquely human processes of executive function.
Erika earned a BS in Sports Medicine from Pepperdine University in 2007. As an undergrad, she was a teaching assistant for multiple anatomy and physiology labs and began to develop an interest in neurodevelopmental disorders. Since 2008, she has been a lab manager, study coordinator and research assistant in the neuroimaging lab of Dr. George Bartzokis at UCLA. Erika is using MRI techniques to study white matter volume and integrity over the life span as well as iron accumulation in the brain. Subjects with developmental and degenerative diseases are analyzed alongside a base of normal controls (ages 13-99) to establish aging trajectories and responses to medication within certain groups. Erika has co-authored several abstracts derived from her current projects, most notably earning the Hot Topic distinction at the 2010 SfN meeting for an abstract on Hysterectomy is Associated with Increased Brain Ferritin Iron Levels. She is also a co-author on six additional abstracts for Biological Psychiatry, ACNP, and the International Neuropsychological Society. Her current studies, as well as her work on age-related cognitive decline, and on drug effects on intracortical myelination in schizophrenia, have earned her coauthorship on four publications and three submitted manuscripts since 2009, as well as first author manuscript in preparation. Outside of the lab, Erika enjoys playing tennis and riding horses. She is especially interested in finding innovative ways to identify tissue biomarkers useful in the prevention and detection of diseases of the brain.
Paul received a BA in Philosophy from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, in 2002. He began his undergraduate career as a pre-med student, studying biology, chemistry, computer science, and psychology before switching to philosophy. In 2007 he began volunteering at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at the University of Minnesota, and was subsequently hired as a research assistant in 2008, to conduct MR research under Dr. Kelvin Lim in the psychiatry department. His work has spanned a variety of areas and approaches: volumetry and diffusion tensor imaging of adolescents with schizophrenia; perfusion measurements and anterior commissure GABA levels in cocaine and poly-drug users; development of scripts and pipelines for image and spectroscopy processing, analysis, and stats database creation. This work led to an abstract in 2009 for ACNP on white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia, and another in 2010 for the Society of Biological Psychiatry, on perfusion in stimulant abusers. Paul also coauthored a publication on “Parietal lobe volume deficits in adolescents with schizophrenia and adolescents with cannabis use disorders” that appeared in the Feb 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. For the past year and a half, he has been pursuing similar work in the lab of Dr. John VanMeter at Georgetowns Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging, while continuing to collaborate with colleagues in Minnesota. Paul is also an accomplished martial artist and musician. His research interests focus on computational methods, especially aimed at developing models of episodic memory that may lead to the design and engineering of neural prostheses.
Kathryn (Katie) Schuler
Katie is a 2010 graduate of the University of Rochester’s Brain and Cognitive Science BA program with emphasis on language acquisition. As an undergraduate, Katie conducted research on acquiring and processing verb argument structure under the direction of Dr. Elissa Newport. Following this, she spent several years working with Dr. Amy Booth in the Department of Communication, Sciences, and Disorders at Northwestern University on projects involving infant object categorization and causal learning. Based on her work with Dr. Booth on the role of function in infant categorization, she coauthored an abstract presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies and a paper subsequently published in Infant Behavior and Development. In 2010, she returned to the Brain and Cognitive Science Department at the University of Rochester as a research assistant in Dr. Elissa Newport’s lab and also joined Dr. Richard Aslin’s Rochester Baby Lab. In these positions, she contributed to several projects on statistical learning and rational inference in infants, children, and adults. Katie has since become Dr. Newport’s laboratory coordinator, and continues to collaborate with Dr. Aslin and Dr. Booth. She is currently preparing a manuscript on her adult study investigating the effect of word frequency on acquiring form-class categories. Katie is especially interested in the hypothesis space that learners generate from the data provided in language, and how this space is used to make inferences about language structure.
Benson graduated in 2011 from Westminster College, Utah, with a BS in Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. His major interests lie in emotion and attention: how do we learn to express and regulate emotions, and what role does attention play in this process? While attending Westminster, Benson participated in the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program. Under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Avery, this program afforded him the opportunity to develop a genetic protocol for identifying known polymorphisms in the BDNF, DAT1, and 5-HTT genes in human subjects. Currently, Benson is working with Dr. Lesa Ellis (who studied under Drs. Mary Rothbart and Michael Posner) to investigate how these three genes interact in the expression of emotional regulation, using a combination of genetics, ERP, and behavioral testing. Benson had been a Supplementary Instructor for Introduction to Brain and Behavior, as well as a math tutor at the Math Lab while at Westminster College. For the past year, Benson has been a full time research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. John VanMeter, where he has been conducting experiments with various neuroimaging techniques. When not in the lab, Benson enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and being out in nature. Benson believes that a developmental framework is critical for understanding the interaction of emotion and attention; he hopes to study biological and environmental factors that control the development of emotional regulation.
Theodore (Ted) Turesky
Ted graduated from Colorado College in 2008, with a B.A. in Physics. As an undergraduate, Ted conducted research with Dr. Kristine Lang, who employed Auger Electron Spectroscopy to better understand the insulation properties of metallic oxides. During college, Ted also completed coursework in biology and chemistry, which enabled him to conduct biomedical research on the antibacterial peptide, nisin, with Dr. Joseph Crabb. After graduating, Ted worked as a high school math and chemistry teacher at Hebron Academy in Maine. For the past two years, Ted has been working at Georgetown University as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Josef Rauschecker,where he is assisting with research using fMRI to study tinnitus by managing subject recruitment and scheduling, running behavioral and scanning experiments, and helping with data analysis. Ted is coauthor on a paper entitled “Cortico-limbic morphology separates tinnitus from tinnitus distress,” published online in the April 2012 issue of Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. Apart from research, Ted founded a support group for people with tinnitus. Ted would like to continue to use neuroimaging approaches to study neural systems – particularly with regard to understanding neurological and psychiatric disorders.