Student Directory

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Adriana Hernandez Vasquez (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

I graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a B.A. in psychology. I began my research journey working with human subjects to investigate the relationships between traumatic brain injury, mental illness, and crime. Then I joined a lab at the University of California, Irvine to do research on nicotine and cannabis addiction in mice. Now, at U Penn, I will turn my attention to neuroimmunology to investigate how the immune system and central nervous system interact and effect each other in different disease states. In my free-time I enjoy watching anime, changing up my hair color, and going on walks around the city.


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David  Goldberg

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

David graduated from Binghamton University with a degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in Spanish. After graduating he joined the Burke Neurological Institute in White Plains, NY, where he worked as a research technician in the labs of Drs. Dianna Willis and John Cave. In the Willis lab he worked on preclinical models of peripheral neuropathies such as Charcot-Marie- Tooth disease and spinal muscular atrophy. In these projects he investigated methods of mitigating neurodegeneration by driving the localization of key mRNAs into the axon for local translation. In the Cave lab he studied neurogenesis in the sub ventricular zone, and how the proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitor cells can be modulated with small molecules. At Penn, he is eager to study the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms regulating synaptic plasticity during learning, memory and psychiatric disorders. Outside of the lab David enjoys playing tennis, reading and watching movies. 


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Simon Bohn

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Simon Bohn is primarily interested in how collective activity of neurons can cause the brain to “perceive” something. He received his B.S. from Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with dual majors in neuroscience and political science. He then joined Arash Afraz’s lab at the National Institute of Mental Health where he spent three years investigating the perceptual effects of optogenetic stimulation in macaque monkey inferior temporal cortex, an area of the brain thought to support visual object recognition. Outside of the lab, he is a collector and user of vintage cameras, and enjoys making and consuming coffee and bread. And treating making coffee and bread as another science project. He has yet to find something he is not interested in.


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Leonardo  Ramos Rodriguez (he/him/his)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

I studied Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. During this time under Dr. Alfredo Ghezzi I studied, in a Drosophila melanogaster model, the epigenetic components of drug related adaptation that happen in the brain. Specifically I studied how acetylation of histones is involved in up regulation of pro alcohol tolerance genes. Although I have not done my first rotation, I did have the opportunity to work under Dr. John Dani during the summer of 2019. I am currently still interested in the field of addiction and understanding the degree of control epigenetic component have on behavior. However I am broadly interested in understanding the nervous system's adaptive capabilities.


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Tim Cox (he/him/his)

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Tim grew up in Acton, Massachusetts and ran track and cross-country at Yale. There, he was a molecular biology major and worked in the Strittmatter lab researching the role of prion protein and amyloid-beta in Alzheimer’s disease. At Penn, he works in the labs of Virginia Lee and Christoph Thaiss investigating mechanisms of neurodegeneration.


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Hannah Deutsch

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Hannah graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019 where she majored in the Biological Basis of Behavior and minored in Hispanic Studies. For two years as an undergraduate and one year as a technician, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Amelia Eisch where she conducted research on the impact of space radiation on neurogenesis and of opioids on the hippocampus. Additionally, in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Gordon Barr she studied the impact of prescription opioids on neonates and oral self-administration. She is excited to continue her education at Penn where she hopes to study motivated behavior. 


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Brianna DiSanza

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Brianna received a B.A. in Human Biology from the University of Virginia in 2017 and graduated with high honors from their Distinguished Majors Program. Following graduation, Brianna accepted a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health under Dr. Avindra Nath studying the role of Human Endogenous Retrovirus K (HERV-K) in HIV-1, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and neurodevelopmental tumors. During that time, she investigated HERV-K in carcinogenesis by characterizing the gene expression of atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors (AT/RT), as well as the function of ERV proteins in ALS at various stages of induced motor neuron differentiation to establish a mechanism of action for neurotoxicity. She is interested in elucidating the mechanisms of neurodegeneration through neurovirology and neuroimmunology, with a focus in Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), ALS, and the role of repetitive elements throughout neuronal development. In her free time, Brianna enjoys gardening, cooking, reading outdoors, and spending time at her family’s farm.


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Jamie Galanaugh

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Jamie obtained her BA in the Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. She worked in the Anderson lab for two years researching, in collaboration with the De Raedt lab, the utility of migratory interneuron transplants for the imaging and treatment of Glioblastoma. Jamie loves cats, coffee, and craft beers and will be relying on the joy all these things give her as she continues with her training in the Neuroscience PhD program at Penn.


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Dayne  Martinez

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

I received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Grand Valley State University in 2017. As an undergrad, I researched the transcriptional control of midbrain dopaminergic neuron development in the lab of Dr. Merritt DeLano-Taylor. I have rotated or will be rotating in the labs of Drs. Guo-li Ming, Zhaolan Zhou, and Chris Bennett. During my free time, I enjoy reading and trying new recipes. 


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Felipe Parodi

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Felipe (he/him/his) graduated from the University of Miami with a B.S. in Neuroscience in 2019. As an undergraduate, Felipe trained in the Advanced Program for Integrated for Science & Math (PRISM), where he broadly researched developmental neuroscience. Following his training in PRISM, he completed two summer research internships at the University of Pennsylvania with Michael L. Platt (2017) and Joseph W. Kable (2018). During his senior year, Felipe pursued an independent project on neurolinguistic pain modulation in the Social and Cultural Neuroscience lab under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Losin. Following graduation, Felipe worked as a Psychometrician under Dr. Rafael Rivas-Vazquez, where he helped refine a screening instrument as a predictor of cognitive dysfunction in white and Hispanic geriatric populations. Felipe is currently interested in applying machine learning techniques to understand how real and artificial brains can optimize behavior.


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Emily Pickup (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Emily graduated from the University of Michigan in 2018 with a B.S. in Neuroscience. While at Michigan she studied sleep-dependent memory consolidation in Dr. Sara Aton’s lab. Before starting her PhD, she spent two years working Alkahest, a biotech company that studies how the plasma proteome changes with age and develops therapies for diseases of aging. In graduate school, she wants to focus her studies on neurodegeneration. 


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Julia Riley (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Julia received her BS in Biochemistry and Neuroscience from Syracuse University in 2020. During her time at Syracuse, she worked at the center of a collaboration between the Castañeda and Hehnly labs to take a cell biology-based approach to elucidating the cellular stress response of a proteasome shuttle protein called Ubiquilin-2. Using biochemical techniques in conjunction with confocal and super-resolution microscopy, she primarily worked on two projects; the first identified how several familial ALS-linked mutations in Ubiquilin-2 impact its ability to form dynamic, membraneless bodies in response to cellular stress, and the second examined the interplay between Ubiquilin-2 and stress granules. Julia is excited at the prospect of researching molecular mechanisms of neuronal maintenance and neurodegeneration. Outside of lab she enjoys playing ice hockey and spending time with her dog and lizard, and loves food and exploring new places.  


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David  Dai (he/him/his)

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

David received a BA in Neuroscience with a concentration in Chemistry from Columbia University in 2017. As an undergraduate, he researched neuroprotective pathways in the context of Parkinson’s disease in Dr. Lloyd Greene’s lab. After graduation, he joined Dr. Sam Horng’s lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and studied the glia limitans’ roles in Multiple Sclerosis pathogenesis. As an MD/PhD student at Penn, he is excited to continue investigating the mechanisms of neurological disorders in the hopes of identifying targets for more effective therapies. He has/will rotate with Drs. Alice Chen-Plotkin, Chris Bennett, and Eddie Lee. Outside of school, he enjoys swimming, running, playing soccer, trying new foods, and FaceTiming his adorable nephew. 


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Sarah Applebey (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Sarah graduated with a BA in neuroscience and psychology from Lake Forest College, IL, in 2018. After graduation, she joined Dr. Yavin Shaham’s lab at the National Institute of Drug Abuse in Baltimore, Maryland as a post-baccalaureate fellow. During her two years in the Shaham lab, she helped develop a rat model of relapse to opioid seeking following voluntary abstinence motivated by a desire to avoid the negative consequences of drug seeking, and explored the neural mechanisms underlying relapse to fentanyl seeking after voluntary abstinence due to an alternative reward. She is interested in the how the brain and gut interact to promote reward seeking and how these mechanisms can combine with environmental factors to render an individual more vulnerable to obesity and overeating. In her free time, Sarah enjoys cooking, baking, singing, being active outdoors, and spending time with friends.


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Maeve Coughlan (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Originally from the Research Triangle, Maeve received her B.A. in Neuroscience & Behavior at Mount Holyoke College this past spring. While at Mount Holyoke, she worked  in the labs of Dr. McMenimen and Dr. Colodner on a thesis project regarding sexually dimorphic stress responses in the glial cells of a Drosophila tauopathy model. At UPenn, Maeve is interested in exploring basic glial biology so as to better understand their contributions to behavior and neurological diseases. Outside of the lab, Maeve enjoys camping, knitting and playing her fiddle when she remembers to.


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Sophie Rogers (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Sophie received her BS in Neuroscience at the University of Chicago in 2020, where, for her undergraduate thesis in Ming Xu's lab, she showed that a CRISPR-engineered skin graft could serve as a viable systemic delivery mechanism of glucagon-like peptide 1 to prevent cue-induced relapse to cocaine in mice. For the five years prior, Sophie studied genetic, transcriptomic, and behavioral features of cannabinoid and opioid addiction with Teresa Milner at Weill Cornell and Yasmin Hurd at Mt. Sinai, around which time she undertook a minor in philosophy to study phenomenology, agency, and practical reasoning. The synthesis of her research and didactic learning sparked a deep interest in the neurobiology of goal-directed behavior, motivation, and decision-making; the conditions which optimize or compromise them; and the phenomenological and biological distinctions between decision, compulsion, and passivity. At Penn, Sophie hopes to explore these and related topics at the level of neural circuits and behavior. Outside of the lab, Sophie enjoys reading, (informal) dancing, finding new music, long walks outdoors, and exploring new neighborhoods!


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Sierra Foshe

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Sierra received a B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in Bioinformatics from UCLA in 2018. As an undergraduate she studied fungal growth and network dynamics in the lab of Dr. Marcus Roper. After graduation, she worked for two years as a technician in Dr. Alex Kolodkin’s lab at Johns Hopkins, studying optic nerve regeneration in mice. Her research interests for graduate school are focused on the visual system, specifically the retina, in health and disease. 


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Sam Lyons (he/him/his)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Sam graduated from George Washington University with a BA in psychology. During his undergraduate, he conducted research in multiple labs, including the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology lab at UCSF, the Culture and Emotions Lab at Georgetown, and The Mothers and Babies: Mood and Health Research Program at GWU.  As a post-bacc, he joined the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab under Drs. Lisa Feldman Barrett and Karen Quigley at Northeastern University and Harvard/MGH, where he studied the neuroscience of human emotion and honed his skills in neuroimaging. Sam also has a strong academic interest in wine (holding a WSET Diploma), which he plans to combine with his passion for neuroscience in the study of human smell.  His favorite wine region is Champagne, and he expects to be the designated sommelier for his NGG cohort.


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Kyndall Nicholas (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Kyndall received her BS in biochemistry from Hampton University in Hampton, VA. After obtaining her bachelors, she became an NIH-PREP scholar at Johns Hopkins University conducting her own research project in the Martinowich lab. Kyndall is a former DI volleyball player sparking her interests in concussions and traumatic brain injury. Kyndall was born and raised in central Maryland, so she loves to eat crabs, go to Ravens football games, and go on bike rides.


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Lindsay Ejoh

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Rotations:

  • Ishmail Abdus-Saboor

Lindsay Ejoh graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in Neuroscience in 2020, where she conducted a variety of research projects including the relationship between musical ability and second-language learning, protein aggregate formation in ALS, and disorders of the enteric nervous system. Her primary research interests include pain neurobiology, and the gut-brain axis. She will be rotating in the lab of Dr. Ishmail Abdus-Saboor in the fall. In her free time, Lindsay enjoys singing, playing piano, and reading. 


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Diego G.  Dávila

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Diego graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University in 2017 with a BA in Psychology. Prior to stating his PhD, he spent two years working as a Clinical Research Coordinator, and one year as a funded pre-doctoral research fellow, in Dr. Ted Satterthwaite’s lab here at Penn. While there, Diego trained in computational methods and neuroinformatics, studying the neural underpinnings of psychiatric illnesses. Diego joined the NGG in the Fall of 2020 and is currently interested in social neuroscience and decision making.


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Adama Berndt

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2020

Adama graduated from Kenyon College in 2017 and received his BA in Neuroscience. His undergraduate research with Dr. Joan Slonczewski evaluated the effect of long-term pH stress on GABA neurotransmitter production in E. coli. This work demonstrated that daily dilutions of E. coli in benzoate and salicylate medium, could produce significant effects on molecular pathways implicated in multidrug resistance. For his thesis, Adama expanded on this research through a partnership with Dr. Hewlet McFarlane’s mouse lab. Using next-generation sequencing, he was able to show that daily administration of salicylate in mouse drinking water, could also impact the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes in gut microbiota. Following graduation, Adama joined Dr. Barry Kaplan at the National Institute of Mental Health to study the mechanisms of axonal trafficking by highlighting angiotensin II's involvement in the movement of catecholamine mRNAs. Upon completion of these experiments, he transitioned to studying the neural coordination of innate behaviors in fruit fly with Dr. Benjamin White. Adama’s most recent project employed genetically encoded calcium indicators in conjunction with computational methods to map the pattern of all muscle activations during pupal molting behavior. 


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Martha Stone

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Mary Schreck

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: State-Dependent Olfactory Information Processing and Perception

Advisor(s):

  • Minghong Ma
Ina Mexhitaj

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Project Title: CD4+CCR2+CCR5+ T cell subset and its antigenic targets in pediatric multi ple sclerosis

Advisor(s):

  • Amit Bar-Or
Rachel Dvorak

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Kyra Levy

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Investigation of the spatiotemporal requirements of Neurexin in a Drosophila model of autism spectrum disorder

Advisor(s):

  • Thomas Jongens

Rotations:

  • Joseph Kable
  • Roy Hamilton
  • Edward S Brodkin
  • Thomas Jongens
Marissa Maroni

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Hart

Rotations:

  • Corey McMillan
  • Roberto Bonasio

Marissa Maroni is a first year graduate student in the the Neuroscience Graduate Group at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, Marissa graduated from Bridgewater State University with a BS in Biology and two minors in chemistry and biochemistry. Her research interests are in understanding neurodegeneration from a cellular level. She is currently rotating in Dr. Corey McMillan's lab where her project is investigates how biological age relates to tau pathology and neurodegeneration.


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Suna Li (she/her/hers)

Degree: VMD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Determining the role of the lateral habenula in pain and itch processing

Advisor(s):

  • Wenqin Luo

Rotations:

  • Amita Sehgal
  • Wenqin Luo

Suna received a B.S. in Biology from Caltech and completed a postbaccalaureate fellowship at the NIH (NIDCD). At Penn, she rotated with Aimee Payne and Amita Sehgal before joining Wenqin Luo's lab, where she studies pain and itch processing in the brain. She is particularly interested in understanding how pain and itch are differentiated in the CNS, and how the lateral habenula, a region important for processing aversive signals, may link pain and itch disorders to common comorbidities such as anxiety and depression.


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Caela Long (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Project Title: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) inhibits oligodendrocyte differentiation through de-acidification of lysosomes resulting in lysosomal lipid and myelin protein accumulation in a juvenile rodent model

Advisor(s):

  • Judith Grinspan
  • Kelly Jordan-Sciutto

Rotations:

  • Erika Holzbaur
  • Judith Grinspan

Caela received her undergraduate degree in Honors Neuroscience from Swarthmore College in 2016. For her honors thesis, she investigated the hormonal and molecular effects of restraint stress on formalin-induced pain-like behavior in male and female mice. In addition to completing course work and conducting research, Caela played varsity soccer and lacrosse for the Garnet. After graduating, Caela worked for 2 years at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia investigating the effects of high dose vitamin D treatment on cachexia and sarcopenia in the lab of Jeffrey Roizen. Now a thesis student, she investigates the effects of antiretrovirals and HIV on myelination in a juvenile rat model in the Grinspan and Jordan-Sciutto labratories. You will find Caela walking around Penn’s campus with her yellow lab service dog Vince, the best lab partner ever. Outside of the lab, Caela spends her time paddling up and down the Schuylkill river in her outrigger canoe.


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Hannah Loo (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Jennifer Orthmann-Murphy

Rotations:

  • Ophir Shalem
  • Frederick “Chris” Bennett
  • Jennifer Orthmann-Murphy

Hannah is a second-year NGG student from NYC. After completing her Bachelor's in Biology and Vocal Performance at SUNY Geneseo, she spent 2 years as a post-baccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health. Hannah is currently rotating in Jennifer Orthmann-Murphy’s lab, and is broadly interested in studying CNS glia-glia interactions. Outside of the lab, she trains as an Olympic weightlifter and directs Project SHORT, a mentoring organization for underrepresented applicants to MD and PhD programs.


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Claudia Lopez Lloreda (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Mechanisms Regulating Amyloid Processing in HIV-Mediated Neurotoxicity

Advisor(s):

  • Kelly Jordan-Sciutto

Rotations:

  • Kelvin C. Luk
  • Kelly Jordan-Sciutto
  • Akiva Cohen

I obtained my bachelor's degree in cellular-molecular biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus. I rotated with Kelvin Luk at the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, with Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, and with Akiva Cohen. Now I am in Kelly Jordan-Sciutto's lab studying the mechanisms of HIV-related neurodegeneration. 


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David Lozano

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Nicole Rust
  • Maria Geffen
  • Franz Weber

David graduated in 2017 from Michigan State University with a BS in Neuroscience and Psychology. While at MSU, he was involved in investigating sex differences in neurogenesis in rodents. After graduating, he began his work as a PREP scholar at the University of Michigan, where he researched the roles specific genes play in neurodegenerative diseases in Drosophila. At Penn rotated in the labs of Dr. Nicole Rust, Dr. Maria Geffen and Dr. Franz Weber.  He  now aims to take a systems level approach that combines experiments and computational modeling to understand the neural circuits regulating sleep in the Weber lab. 


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Jared Zimmerman

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Personalizing neuromodulation of cognitive control through precision intrinsic system mapping

Advisor(s):

  • Roy Hamilton

Rotations:

  • Ted Satterthwaite
  • Desmond Oathes
  • Roy Hamilton
Dale Zhou (he/him/his)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Danielle Bassett
  • Ted Satterthwaite

Rotations:

  • Joseph Kable
  • Danielle Bassett
  • Ted Satterthwaite

Dale moved from Atlanta, GA to Bethesda, MD as a child, blowing his chance at becoming a true southern gentleman. As consolation, he got a BSc in psychology and BA in philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park, once fluking into 3rd place in a campus-wide table tennis tournament. Weighing his prospects as a professional athlete, he decided to train at the National Institute of Mental Health in neuroscience. On occasion, he tried to escape his ever-northward destiny. One summer, he reportedly biked west across the U.S.— traveling from Maryland to Oregon to help fight cancer. But his efforts proved fruitless; Dale joined Penn's Neuroscience Graduate Group where his doctoral research, advised by Professor Danielle Bassett and co-advised by Professor Theodore Satterthwaite, focuses on computational models of learning and attention, and how these cognitive functions go awry in psychiatric disorders. He hopes to one day search for academic faculty jobs in all cardinal directions. Outside of lab, Dale enjoys reading, music, art, TV & film, gaming, hiking, and maintaining lists of exciting future hobbies.


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Lisa Wooldridge (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Gregory Corder

Rotations:

  • Heath Schmidt
  • Gregory Corder

Lisa graduated from Middlebury College in 2016 with a BA in neuroscience. Before beginning her PhD, she spent three years as a research technician in the Preclinical Pharmacology research program at McLean Hospital, where she worked on behavioral models for validating novel pharmacotherapies. She is currently rotating with Dr. Heath Schmidt, and is interested in reward processing and its role in psychiatric disorders. In her free time, Lisa can be found singing classical music, cooking, or biking.


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Ruthie Wittenberg

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Ventral tegmental area serotonin augmentation as a possible intervention for adolescent nicotine-induced increased alcohol consumption

Advisor(s):

  • John Dani

Rotations:

  • Murray Grossman
  • John Dani
  • Amita Sehgal
Aaron Williams

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Investigating the circuitry supporting audiovisual integration in the inferior colliculus

Advisor(s):

  • Maria Geffen

Rotations:

  • Maria Geffen
  • Han-Chiao Isaac Chen
  • Joshua Gold
David White

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Ideal observers of binocular disparity estimation grounded in natural scene statistics

Advisor(s):

  • Johannes Burge

Rotations:

  • Danielle Bassett
  • Vijay Balasubramanian
  • Johannes Burge
Alex Wei

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: DNA modification and Pcdh diversification

Advisor(s):

  • Hao Wu

Rotations:

  • John Dani
  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou
  • Hao Wu
  • Roberto Bonasio
Sophia Villiere

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Hart

Rotations:

  • Michael Granato
  • Greg Bashaw

I graduated from Medgar Evers College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and minor in Mathematics. Through the RISE Program, I engaged in epilepsy research at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. I analyzed how ictal central apnea and obstructive apnea episodes occurred in the urethane kainic acid rat model. In 2018, I became a Discovery PREP scholar at The Ohio State University. I  studied synaptogenesis in the zebrafish model by focusing on Mauthner neurons and primary motor neurons. My research interest are neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative diseases. 


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Luigim Vargas Cifuentes

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Project Title:

Advisor(s):

  • Marc Fuccillo

Rotations:

  • Marc Fuccillo
  • Minghong Ma

I grew up in Queens, NY and went to Brown University from 2013-2017, graduating with a BS in Neuroscience. Early in my undergraduate career, I became interested in neuroscience and started volunteering in labs in my spare time. I was very curious about the neural mechanisms behind our daily experiences as humans and was in awe throughout my training. More recently, I have become interested in basal ganglia circuitry and the functional role of the basal ganglia in decision making, working memory, motivation, and various complex disease states such as Autism, Tourette's Syndrome, and schizophrenia.


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Catherine Ubri

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Allyson Mackey
  • Seema Bhatnagar
  • Joseph Kable
  • Akiva Cohen
Ursula Tooley (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Neural correlates of curiosity in early childhood: The influence of the environment

Advisor(s):

  • Danielle Bassett
  • Allyson Mackey

Rotations:

  • Joseph Kable
  • Allyson Mackey
  • Danielle Bassett

I am a neuroscience Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania, under the direction of Dr. Allyson Mackey in the Changing Brain Lab and Dr. Danielle Bassett in the Complex Systems Group. 

I am interested in the development of functional brain networks, effects of the early environment on brain development, learning and exploration in childhood, and applications of graph theory. 

I graduated in the spring of 2014 from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Neuroscience. From 2011 to 2014, I worked in the lab of Dr. Jamie Edgin, examining longitudinal effects of sleep disruption on cognition in children with Down syndrome.


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Camille Testard

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Michael Platt
  • Marc Schmidt
  • Kevin Platt
Barbara Terzic

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Understanding the role of CDKL5 in neuronal synapse development

Advisor(s):

  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou

Rotations:

  • Alice Chen-Plotkin
  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou
  • Edward Lee
Sara Taylor (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Edward S Brodkin

Rotations:

  • Desmond Oathes
  • Edward S Brodkin
  • Maja Bucan

In undergrad, Sara studied Neuroscience at the College of William and Mary. With NGG she had the opportunity to rotate with Maja Bucan as well as a collaboration between Desmond Oathes and Joe Kable. Her rotation that turned into her thesis lab was with Ted Brodkin, studying autistic behaviors and their genetic basis.


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Valerie Sydnor (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Project Title: Structural, Neurochemical, and Molecular Mechanisms of Reward Circuit Dysfunction Relevant to Anhedonia in Youth

Advisor(s):

  • Ted Satterthwaite

Rotations:

  • David Roalf
  • Ted Satterthwaite
  • Desmond Oathes

Valerie received her undergraduate degree in Health and Human Biology from Brown University in 2015, where she conducted research on psychotropic polypharmacy in a psychiatric hospital and tried to convince Emma Watson that she would be a good Ravenclaw Prefect. After graduating, Valerie worked for 3 years in Boston at the Psychiatry Neuroimaging Lab, applying microstructural diffusion imaging approaches to probe mood disorder etiology and the antidepressant mechanisms of ketamine. During her first year in NGG she rotated with David Roalf (GluCEST imaging!), Ted Satterthwaite (integrating multi-modal neuroimaging and transcriptomics data!), and Desmond Oathes (combined TMS and fMRI!). Now a thesis student in Ted’s lab, she is studying changes in reward circuit connectivity, neurochemistry, and gene expression within the context of both healthy brain development and developmental psychopathology. Outside of the lab, Valerie spends her time running miles down the Schuylkill river, sitting on her meditation pillow, drinking beer while playing Tapper at Barcade, and trying to fall down rabbit holes to re-create Alice in Wonderland.


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Jennifer Stiso (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Uncovering Electrophysiological Mechanisms of Graph Learning in the Hippocampus

Advisor(s):

  • Danielle Bassett

Rotations:

  • Alice Chen-Plotkin
  • Marc Schmidt

Jennifer Stiso got her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in molecular biology and cognitive science. At Penn, she rotated with Sharon Thompson-Schill, Tim Lucas/Alex Proekt, and Dani Bassett. She is now comentored by Dani Bassett (primary) and Tim Lucas (secondary) and studies the neurophysiological correlates of learning, and how neurophysiology changes in response to stimulation. 


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Jacob Sterling

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Josh Dunaief
  • Qi Cui

Rotations:

  • Josh Dunaief

As a Penn undergrad I majored in biochemistry and neurobiology with a minor in African studies. After graduation I signed up for another 8 years at Penn in the MD/PhD program. For me thesis I joined the labs of Dr. Joshua Dunaief and Dr. Qi Cui to study the innate immune system in neurodegenerative disease of the retina and brain.


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Nathaniel Sotuyo

Degree: VMD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2013

Project Title: Treatment of epilepsy and associated comorbidities using stem cell-derived interneurons to correct circuit dysfunction in an animal model of Dravet syndrome.

Advisor(s):

  • Stewart Anderson, Ethan
  • Ethan Goldberg

Rotations:

  • Tracy L. Bale
  • Ethan Goldberg
Yeri Song

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Ionotropic glutamate receptor maturation in the impaired auditory critical periods of Fmr1 knockout mice

Advisor(s):

  • Frances Jensen

Rotations:

  • Edward Lee
  • Frances Jensen
  • Kacy Cullen

I graduated from Rutgers University in 2013 majoring in Cell Biology & Neuroscience and Economics. I'm currently in Frances Jensen's lab studying the mechanism underlying the impaired auditory cortex critical period in the Fragile X mouse model. I've previously also rotated in Eddie Lee's and Kacy Cullen's labs.


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Rebecca Somach (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: The Effects of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury on the Phases of Memory

Advisor(s):

  • Akiva Cohen

Rotations:

  • David Raizen
  • Amita Sehgal
  • Kelvin C. Luk
  • Akiva Cohen
  • Nirinjini Nirmala Naidoo

Rebecca is a 4th year NGG student in the lab of Dr. Akiva Cohen. She is currently studying how concussions affect the neurons involved with sleep. She is a huge fan of electrophysiology and understanding neural circuitry. While her work involves sleep she tries not to sleep on the job; she is passionate about making science accessible and easy to understand. That’s why she is involved with NGG’s extracurricular activities including writing for the Penn Neuro Know Blog and Brains in Briefs. She also participates in outreach and educational opportunities such as the Upward Bound Neuro Course and Research Fridays, and Elementary School Outreach.


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Brenna Shortal (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Brenna went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI for undergrad where she studied neuroscience and statistics. As a first year student in NGG, she rotated with Diego Contreras, Doug Coulter, Franz Weber, and Alex Proekt before ultimately joining Dr. Proekt's lab. The Proekt lab is associated with the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care. Brenna's research is electrophysiological and focuses on the mechanisms by which we recover from anesthetic-induced unconsciousness.


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Hannah Shoenhard

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Molecular and Circuit Analysis of Behavioral Choice in Zebrafish

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Granato

Rotations:

  • James H. Eberwine
  • Michael Granato
  • Minghong Ma

Hannah graduated from Scripps College with a double major in neuroscience and philosophy. She is conducting her PhD research in the Granato lab, where she studies the genetic basis of a simple sensorimotor decision in larval zebrafish using transgenic approaches, pharmacology, and calcium imaging.


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Jessica Schwarz

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Amita Sehgal

Rotations:

  • Elizabeth Anne Heller-Mesznik
  • Amita Sehgal

Jessica grew up in Rochester, NY, and received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in Biological Basis of Behavior and minored in Theater Arts.  As an undergraduate, she conducted sleep research in the labs of Dr. David Raizen and Dr. Ted Abel.  In the Fall of 2017, Jessica started graduate school at Penn to pursue her PhD in Neuroscience and rotated in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Heller.  She joined the lab of Dr. Amita Sehgal in the Spring of 2018 to conduct her thesis work.  Her current work looks at the effect of aging on sleep and circadian regulated processes.


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Ryan Schwark

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Ishmail Abdus-Saboor

Rotations:

  • Matthew Kayser
  • Ishmail Abdus-Saboor
  • Marc Schmidt
Amanda Schott

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Franz Weber

Rotations:

  • Hongjun Song
  • Franz Weber
Daniel Schonhaut

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Advisor(s):

  • Greg Bashaw
  • Anjan Chatterjee

Rotations:

  • Virginia Lee
  • Danielle Bassett
  • Greg Bashaw
  • Michael Kahana
Kyra Schapiro

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Exploring the Neural Representation and Updating of Spatial Dynamic Priors

Advisor(s):

  • Joshua Gold

Rotations:

  • Yale E. Cohen
  • Joshua Gold
  • Maria Geffen

I'm Kyra Schapiro, a fifth year student in Josh Gold's Lab.  I went to Amherst College to get my degree in Neuroscience.  I rotated with Yale Cohen, Josh Gold, and Maria Geffen, I think you can tell which lab I settled in. Right now I'm working on decision making with a focus on how evidence is stored and combined to make a choice in both non-human primates and in humans.  After graduating I hope to be able to research the hypothesized neural-net mechanisms behind seashell patterning.


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Melanie Schaffler

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Ishmail Abdus-Saboor

Rotations:

  • Naiara Aquizu-Lopez
  • Seema Bhatnagar
  • Ishmail Abdus-Saboor
  • Mariella De Biasi

Before joining NGG, Melanie graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Neuroscience and worked for two years as a research technician in Jacqueline Crawley's lab at UC Davis, studying the effects of pharmacological interventions in mouse models of autism. After rotating in the labs of Naiara Akizu, Seema Bhatnagar, Mariella DeBiasi, and Ishmail Abdus-Saboor, Melanie joined the Abdus-Saboor lab, where she studies the impact of somatosensory experiences on social and emotional behavior in mice. 


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Marcos Sanchez Navarro

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Rotations:

  • Amita Sehgal
  • John Betley
Vanessa Sanchez

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou

Rotations:

  • Jennifer Orthmann-Murphy
  • Erica Korb

Vanessa Sanchez received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Cellular and Molecular Biology from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). At CSUF, she participated in programs that focused on preparing underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income students for doctoral studies, such as the NIH-funded Maximizing Access to Research Careers program and the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program. During the summer of 2018, Vanessa also participated in The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s summer research program. As a first-year NGG student, this fall she will be rotating in Jennifer Orthmann-Murphy’s glia lab!


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Rebecca Rothhaas

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Shinjae Chung

Rotations:

  • Seema Bhatnagar
  • Yvette Sheline
  • Shinjae Chung

I went to undergrad at Notre Dame of Maryland University, a small liberal arts college in Baltimore. After graduating in 2018, I began working full-time at Johns Hopkins University in the lab of Dr. Gül Dölen, studying the role of vasopressin in social behaviors in mice. Right now, I am doing a rotation in Dr. Seema Bhatnagar's lab, studying coherence between three brain regions involved in stress response. I am interested in studying mood disorders and stress, and outside of lab I enjoy spending time with my two cats.


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Solymar Rolon Martinez

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: The role of projections from the amygdala to the thalamic reticular nucleus in auditory processing and fear learning

Advisor(s):

  • Maria Geffen

Rotations:

  • Michael Platt
  • Maria Geffen
  • John Betley
Ashley Robbins

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Beverly Davidson
  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou
  • Guo-li Ming

Ashley started her PhD in 2018, after earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Boston College and spending two years as a research technician at Massachusetts General Hospital. Now working in the lab of Dr. Beverly Davidson, she utilizes single-cell sequencing techniques to understand selective vulnerability of neuronal subpopulations to neurodegenerative disorders, such as Huntington’s Disease. When she is not in lab, Ashley enjoys her time at local beer gardens, hiking new trails with her two adventurous pups (Jack and Finn), and cooking with her husband."


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Andre Revell

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Advisor(s):

  • Brian Litt

Rotations:

  • Murray Grossman
  • Ted Satterthwaite
  • Kathryn Davis
  • Brian Litt
Sarah Reitz

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Examining the Convergence of Sleep and Anesthesia on Neuronal Populations in the Preoptic Area

Advisor(s):

  • Max Kelz

Rotations:

  • Sigrid Veasey
  • David Raizen
  • Max Kelz

Sarah is a 6th year in Max Kelz's lab where she studies the neural mechanisms of anesthesia and how anesthetics interact with the sleep and arousal circuitry of the brain. She attended Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO for undergrad. Before joining the Kelz lab, she rotated with Sigrid Veasey and David Raizen.


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Erin Purvis (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Kacy Cullen

Erin graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2017 with a Bachelor's of Science in Biopsychology. During her first year in NGG she rotated with Kacy Cullen and Akiva Cohen. She now works in Kacy's Neural Engineering and Neurotrauma Lab, where she is utilizing a tissue engineered rostral migratory stream for directed neuronal replacement. Erin can often be found rock climbing, slacklining, playing triathlon, or laying in a park. 


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Greer Prettyman

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Daniel Wolf
  • Laura L Peoples

Rotations:

  • Daniel Wolf
  • Caryn Lerman

Greer completed her B.A at Swarthmore College with a major in Neuroscience and minor in English Literature. After graduation, Greer worked as a Research Associate at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development in Baltimore, MD where she used functional neuroimaging and genetics to identify biomarkers for psychiatric drug development. Greer is currently a PhD candidate in Dr. Daniel Wolf’s lab. She is interested in the neural mechanisms underlying impaired social motivation in mental illnesses.


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Adam Pines

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Ted Satterthwaite

Rotations:

  • Allyson Mackey
  • Kathryn Davis

Adam is a third-year NGG student. After rotating with Allyson Mackey and Kate Davis, he joined Ted Satterthwaite's Lab. He's currently evaluating MRI-assessed neuronal heterogeneity in development and psychiatry.

 


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Alexandra Perlegos

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Investigating the in vivo role on N6-Methyladenosine RNA modification in Cellular Stress, Aging, and Neurological Disease

Advisor(s):

  • Nancy Bonini

Rotations:

  • Judith Grinspan
  • Nancy Bonini
  • James Shorter

Alexandra received her B.A. in Neurobiology from the University of Pennsylvania. She rotated with Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, and with Dr. James Shorter. She is currently in Dr. Nancy Bonini's lab and focuses on the RNA modification N6-methyladenosine (m6A), and understanding its critical role in cellular stress as well as chronic stress states in the brain, particularly aging and degenerative disease.


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Gianna Perez (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Desmond Oathes

Rotations:

  • Ruben C Gur
  • Desmond Oathes

Gianna is currently a second year student in Dr. Desmond Oathes's lab which aims to use TMS/fMRI to develop personalized TMS treatments for affective disorders like depression and PTSD and also focuses on studying the best TMS/fMRI analysis methods. As a first generation college and graduate student, she aspires to use her career in Neuroscience to continue to make Neuroscience a more inclusive place for historically underrepresented groups.


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Elelbin Ortiz

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Molecular-Genetic Mechanisms that Establish the Acoustic Startle Threshold

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Granato

Rotations:

  • Robert G Kalb
  • Matthew Kayser
  • Michael Granato
Phuong Nguyen

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Guo-li Ming

Rotations:

  • John Dani
  • Erika Holzbaur
  • Guo-li Ming
Kelsey Nemec (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Jay Gottfried
  • John Wolfe
  • Frederick “Chris” Bennett

Born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin, Kelsey received her BS degrees in Neurobiology and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!). Working in the lab of Dr. Chris Bennett, she studies the role of microglia in both healthy and diseased brains, focusing specifically on ways to define microglial identity and refine microglial transplantation. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys being a craft beer snob, re-reading the Harry Potter series, and telling you why the cheese is better in Wisconsin.


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Maria Navarro

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Deciphering the cellular and molecular mechanism by which dcc promotes peripheral nerve regeneration

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Granato

Rotations:

  • Greg Bashaw
  • Matthew Kayser
  • Michael Granato
Patricia Murphy

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2013

Project Title: Roles for robo2 in axon guidance of the regenerating motor nerve

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Granato

Rotations:

  • James H. Eberwine
  • Kacy Cullen
  • Greg Bashaw
Michael Murphy

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Rotations:

  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou
  • Hao Wu
  • Elizabeth Anne Heller-Mesznik

Hi I'm Mike, I came to UPenn all the way from Southern California. I completed my undergrad education at UCLA and worked primarily with Kate Wassum studying various circuits, region-specific cell subtypes, and basic chromatin remodeling that underlie learning/memory, habit formation, and addiction. My rotations at UPenn will be with Joe Zhou, Liz Heller, and Heath Schmidt. And right now I'm still interested in continuing along the addiction neuroscience research path to specifically look into how epigenetic changes resulting from chronic stress can impair cognitive functions in a way that predisposes an individual to maladaptive behaviors such as habit formation. 


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Leah Middleton

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Ishmail Abdus-Saboor

Rotations:

  • Michael Granato
  • Shinjae Chung
  • David Raizen

Leah studied neuroscience as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College and spent two summers on NSF research fellowships at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she conducted projects in zebrafish axon regeneration with Dr. Sandra Rieger and aquatic toxicology with Dr. Mark Hahn, respectively. After college, she spent a year as a postbaccalaureate fellow at the NIH working with Dr. Ralph Nelson examining the plasticity of color vision circuits in the zebrafish retina by electrophysiological recordings of retinal ganglion cells. During her first year at Penn, she rotated with Dr. Michael Granato, Dr. Shinjae Chung, Dr. David Raizen, and Dr. Ishmail Abdus-Saboor. As a PhD Candidate in the Abdus-Saboor lab, Leah studies the mammalian neural circuits of gentle touch and pain.


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Julie Merchant (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Ethan Goldberg

Rotations:

  • Ethan Goldberg
  • Guo-li Ming

Julie is from Acton, MA. She graduated in 2017 from Middlebury College in VT, with a B.A. in Biology and a double minor in Spanish and Classical Studies. At Middlebury, she worked in Dr. Glen Ernstrom’s neurobiology lab studying regulatory mechanisms of synaptic vesicle loading and fusion in C. elegans. She then worked as a technician in Dr. Tracy Young-Pearse’s lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, studying the mechanistic underpinnings of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease in both iPSC and mouse models. Julie joined the Neuroscience Graduate Group at Penn in the fall of 2019 and is interested in both electrophysiological techniques and patient-derived iPSC models of disease.


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Mariexcel Davatolhagh

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Imbalanced ventral striatal activity as a shared neural circuit defect for autism-related motor behavior

Advisor(s):

  • Marc Fuccillo

Rotations:

  • Marc Fuccillo
  • John Dani
  • Chris Pierce
Ana Defendini

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Dennis Kolson
  • Kacy Cullen
  • Adrianna “Anna” Jenkins
Xiaomao Ding

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Maria Geffen

Rotations:

  • Konrad Kording
  • Maria Geffen
  • Joshua Gold
Ronald Ditullio

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Rotations:

  • Akiva Cohen
  • Josh Dunaief
  • Vijay Balasubramanian
Dan Dou

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Erika Holzbaur

Rotations:

  • Erika Holzbaur

Dan is a 3rd year MD/PhD student at Penn.  He graduated from Harvard University in 2015, completing an undergraduate thesis in Dr. Venkatesh Murthy’s lab on plasticity of neural circuits in the olfactory bulb.  Prior to starting medical school, he spent two years in Dr. Clifford Woolf’s lab at Boston Children’s Hospital studying congenital pain disorders caused by sodium channel mutations.  For his thesis at Penn, Dan joined Dr. Erika Holzbaur’s lab and will be investigating axon transport defects associated with Parkinson’s disease.


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Darrell Eacret

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Acute sleep loss-induced metabolic alterations in conoaminergic wake-activated neurons and rapid onset antidepressant effects

Advisor(s):

  • Julie Blendy

Rotations:

  • John Betley
  • Julie Blendy
  • Amelia Eisch

Graduated from Emory University with a BS in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, was a technician in the Bhatnagar lab at CHOP for 2 years working on stress resilience, rotated with Nick Betley and Amelia Eisch and joined the lab of Julie Blendy working on the behavioral genetics of drug addiction.


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Emily Feierman Hyatt (she/her)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Project Title: Uncovering the regulation and function of histone variant H2BE in neurons

Advisor(s):

  • Erica Korb

Rotations:

  • Marc Fuccillo
  • Seema Bhatnagar
  • Erica Korb
Sarah Ferrigno

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Rotations:

  • Nirinjini Nirmala Naidoo
  • Marc Fuccillo
  • Frances Jensen
Logan Fickling

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Nusbaum

Rotations:

  • Akiva Cohen
  • Michael Kahana
  • Matthew Kayser
Delaney Fischer

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Joshua Gold

Rotations:

  • Amelia Eisch
  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou

Delaney received a B.A. in Neuroscience and Behavior with a Chemistry minor from Vassar College in 2015. She completed her undergraduate honors thesis research investigating how pesticides effect the honeybee brain in the laboratory of Dr. Kathleen Susman. Upon graduating, Delaney became a research technician at Weill Cornell Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Anjali M. Rajadhyaksha working on projects involving intellectual disability, paternal cocaine exposure, and the role of the L-type calcium channel Cav1.2 in neuropsychiatric disorders. In the summer of 2017, Delaney started in the Neuroscience Graduate Group at Penn. Delaney is completing her thesis work in Dr. Elizabeth Heller’s Lab and uses rodent models to study the role of epigenetics in cocaine addiction. Delaney also serves as GLIA's Public Relations Chair. In addition to overseeing the online presence of GLIA and the Neuroscience Graduate Group’s facebook, she leads the student side of NGG recruitment, plans Penn’s SFN social, and is involved in community building activities, as she directs Chalk Talks.


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Vanessa Fleites (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Investigating the long-term consequences of maternal opioid exposure on rodent offspring

Advisor(s):

  • Mariella De Biasi

Rotations:

  • Joseph Kable
  • Mariella De Biasi
  • Seema Bhatnagar
Panagiotis Fotiadis

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Advisor(s):

  • Danielle Bassett

Rotations:

  • Danielle Bassett
  • Max Kelz
  • David Meaney

Panos graduated from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics (concentration: Mathematical Biology). He then moved to Boston and worked at Massachusetts General Hospital as a research technologist focusing on neuroimaging and stroke. At Penn, Panos will be doing his PhD thesis work in network neuroscience, under the supervision of Danielle Bassett.


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Evan Gallagher

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Advisor(s):

  • Robert Mach
  • Jacob Dubroff

Rotations:

  • Yvette Sheline
  • John A Detre
  • Robert Mach

Evan is broadly interested in using neuroimaging approaches like MRI and PET to understand, diagnose, and ultimately treat neurological disorders. Prior to arriving at Penn, Evan received his BA in neuroscience from Middlebury College, and also completed a 2-year postbaccalaureate research fellowship at the Molecular Imaging Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. When he is not in lab, he enjoys tennis, skiing, hiking, graphic design, and getting way too stressed about Boston sports teams.


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Joseph Gallegos

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Jennifer Orthmann-Murphy

Rotations:

  • Kelly Jordan-Sciutto
  • Jennifer Orthmann-Murphy
  • Sandra Maday

Joseph Gallegos received his B.S. in Microbiology from Colorado State University, where he studied prion diseases. At Penn, he hopes to continue to study the cellular mechanisms which underlie neurodegeneration, as well as join into the growing field of neuroimmunology. He is currently rotating in the lab of Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, where he is optimizing a brain organoid model to study how cellular stress leads to neurodegeneration.


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Kevin Goff

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: The role of Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide expressing interneurons in a model of Dravet Syndrome: Disinhibiting our understanding of Epilepsy

Advisor(s):

  • Ethan Goldberg
  • Douglas Coulter

Rotations:

  • Ethan Goldberg
Nitsan Goldstein

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Rotations:

  • Ethan Goldberg
  • John Betley

Nitsan received her B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Williams College in 2015. She worked as a research technician at the Massachusetts General Hospital investigating hippocampal dysfunction in models of Alzheimer's Disease before starting at Penn. In her first rotation, Nitsan worked with Dr. Ethan Goldberg imaging cortical interneuron calcium dynamics during seizures in a mouse model of a genetic epilepsy. She then rotated with Dr. Nick Betley and joined his lab in March 2018. In her thesis work, Nitsan is studying the neural circuits critical in the control of food intake and how they interact with signals from the gut as well as the brain's reward systems to affect motivation.


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Naihua Gong

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Connecting Sleep and Memory in Autism using Drosophila melanogaster

Advisor(s):

  • Matthew Kayser

Rotations:

  • Matthew Kayser
  • Erika Holzbaur
Catrina Hacker (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Nicole Rust

Rotations:

  • Joshua Gold
  • Nicole Rust

Catrina is interested in studying the neural correlates of behavior and perception by working at the intersection of cognitive, systems and computational neuroscience. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California in May 2019 with a degree in neuroscience. While at USC she worked with Dr. Irving Biederman in the Image Understanding Lab where she led several projects aimed at uncovering neurocomputational accounts of face recognition. She also worked with Dr. Sara Bottjer where she employed electrophysiological and optogenetic techniques to study song development in juvenile zebra finches. She is currently working with Dr. Nicole Rust where she is studying the neural correlates of visual memory. A full CV and more details about research projects can be found on her website.


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Jennifer Hafycz

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Determining a Role for the Claustrum and Homer1a in the Claustrum in the Regulation of Sleep/Wake Behavior

Advisor(s):

  • Nirinjini Nirmala Naidoo

Rotations:

  • Akiva Cohen
  • Nirinjini Nirmala Naidoo
Rachel Herman (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Heath Schmidt

Rotations:

  • Matthew Kayser
  • Mariella De Biasi
  • Heath Schmidt

Rae Herman graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Cognitive-Behavioral Neuroscience. She is interested in the biological basis of behavior and conducted research on neural substrates of nicotine addiction during a year in Amsterdam. In her current rotation in Matt Kayser’s lab, she is exploring autism-associated genes and juvenile aggression. She shares a house with five foster kittens and loves to cook, read, and powerlift.


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Michael Iannacone (he/him/his)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Neural mechanisms of radiation-induced fatigue

Advisor(s):

  • Allan Pack, David
  • David Raizen

Rotations:

  • Matthew Kayser
  • John Betley
  • Bart DeJonghe

I graduated from Haverford College with a BS in Biology, and Minors in Psychology and Neuroscience. My research focuses on how the central nervous system controls sleep and fatigue in response to sickness and cellular stress. I use both worm and mouse model organisms to study questions about how viral illness, radiation and inflammation cause the experience of fatigue.


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Emma Janke

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Minghong Ma

Rotations:

  • Seema Bhatnagar
  • Shinjae Chung
  • Minghong Ma
Barnes Jannuzi

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Nicole Rust

Rotations:

  • Judith Grinspan
  • John Betley
  • Nicole Rust
Ilenna Jones

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Rotations:

  • Vijay Balasubramanian
  • Guo-li Ming
  • Konrad Kording

Ilenna graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015, where she majored in Neuroscience and specialized in cellular and molecular neuroscience. She worked as a technician in an epigenetic psychiatry lab at Johns Hopkins for 2 years before coming to UPenn for PhD. She rotated in 2 cellular and molecular neuroscience labs and 2 computational neuroscience labs. She decided to take the leap into computational neuroscience and join Dr. Konrad Kording's lab. There she applies machine learning methods and biophysical modeling to learn about neuron functions and synaptic plasticity.


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Alice Dallstream

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Examining the Effects of TMS in Rhesus Macaque on Reward Feedback Processing

Advisor(s):

  • Joshua Gold
  • Michael Platt

Rotations:

  • Marc Fuccillo
  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou
  • Joshua Gold

Alice is a PhD candidate co-mentored by Joshua Gold, PhD, and Michael Platt, PhD. She is studying the little-understood, neural and behavioral mechanisms of transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is a form of neurostimulation used for depression treatment. Her research interests include mental health, decision making, electrophysiology, and computational modeling. During her first year at Penn, Alice completed rotations with Marc Fuccillo, PhD, and Zhaolan “Joe” Zhou, PhD where she worked with mouse models of autism before joining her thesis labs. Alice was a postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health where she worked with James Pickel, PhD. Alice received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Virginia where she double-majored in Biology and Psychology.


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Jaffna Mathiaparanam

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Michael Granato

Rotations:

  • Heath Schmidt
  • Kelly Jordan-Sciutto
  • Michael Granato
Kara Mcgaughey

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Ted Satterthwaite
  • Joseph Kable
  • Joshua Gold

Kara graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience from Duke University, where she studied the influence of social stress on microbial composition and spent months sleeping in a tent for Duke vs. UNC basketball games. During her first year in NGG, Kara tried computational neuroscience just for kicks and has never looked back. She's now working in Josh Gold's lab using physiology and pupillometry to study the interplay between sensation, attention, and arousal. Outside of the lab, Kara enjoys spending time on her yoga mat, running with November Project Philadelphia, and reading books at the dog park with her dog, Moe.  


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Rosa Leon

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Serotonergic modulation of the central glucagon-like peptide-1 system alters energy balance and stress

Advisor(s):

  • Matthew Hayes

Rotations:

  • John Dani
  • Mariella De Biasi
  • Julie Blendy
  • Matthew Hayes
Michelle Klima (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Investigation of hunger induced neural changes that suppress pain perception.

Advisor(s):

  • John Betley

Rotations:

  • Mariella De Biasi
  • Douglas Coulter
  • John Betley
  • Minghong Ma

Michelle studied Biology & Neuroscience at St Mary's College of Maryland. After graduating, Michelle spent two years working as a research technician for Dr. Mariella De Biasi investigating the circuit interaction between anxiety and the opioid system. While in her first year at NGG, Michelle rotated with Dr. Mariella De Biasi, Dr. Doug Coulter, Dr. Nick Betley, and Dr. Minghong Ma. Ultimately she joined the Betley lab. Her major project is to characterize a novel neuron population in the hindbrain that is able to suppress inflammatory pain through a feeding circuit. Other projects seek to understand how brain circuits interact to initiate one behavior over another in order to develop a hierarchy of biological drives & behavioral outcomes and understand how brain circuits influence the immune system.


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Carolyn Keating

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: The role of repetitive traumatic brain injury in the cell-to-cell transmission of pathological a-synuclein

Advisor(s):

  • Kacy Cullen

Rotations:

  • Judith Grinspan
  • Kacy Cullen
  • Douglas Coulter
Daniel Kalamarides

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Investigation of inhibitory plasticity in the VTA and its potential as an actionable therapeutic target for opioid use disorder

Advisor(s):

  • John Dani

Rotations:

  • John Dani
  • Maria Geffen
Marissa Kamarck

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Probing the olfactory code using antagonists

Advisor(s):

  • Joel Mainland

Rotations:

  • Kacy Cullen
  • Joel Mainland
  • Matthew Hayes
Yuzhang Chen

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Flavia Vitale
  • Brian Litt

Rotations:

  • Joshua Gold

Yuzhang went to the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with honors in Chemical Biology. Prior to starting his PhD in the neuroscience program, he trained as a technician in the Jan Lab at UCSF, where he worked on elucidating the role of orexin neurons in anesthesia under the guidance of Dr. Wei Zhou, a physician scientist. He's currently doing a rotation in the lab of Dr. Joshua Gold, where he's modeling neuromodulator effects on neuron spike activity. In his future career, he hopes to use computational models and statistical techniques to enhance our understanding of neural networks and psychological illnesses.


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Lyles Clark

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Neurogenesis Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Role in Hippocampal Physiology and Function

Advisor(s):

  • Amelia Eisch

Rotations:

  • Akiva Cohen
  • Amelia Eisch

Lyles went to undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh before working for 2 years with Denise Garcia on cortical astrocyte heterogeneity. At Penn, Lyles rotated with Akiva Cohen and Amelia Eisch before permanently joining the Eisch lab. For their thesis work, Lyles is working on a collaboration between the Cohen and Eisch labs, focused on a project examining the bidirectional relationship between mild Traumatic Brain Injury and adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Besides neuroscience, Lyles is also a big fan of cats, beer, and barbeque.


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Jared Collina

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Danielle Bassett
  • Maria Geffen
  • Alan Stocker
  • David Brainard
Daniel Connolly

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Zhaolan "Joe" Zhou

Rotations:

  • Hongjun Song
Katie Copley (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • James Shorter

Rotations:

  • Erika Holzbaur
  • James Shorter
  • Jennifer Phillips-Cremins

Katie graduated from University of Pittsburgh in 2018 with a B.S. in neuroscience. She is interested in neurodegeneration and rotated in the labs of Dr. Erika Holzbaur, Dr. James Shorter, and Dr. Jennifer Phillips-Cremins.


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Mara Cowen

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Michael Granato
  • David Raizen
  • Naiara Aquizu-Lopez

Mara graduated from the South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina (the real USC) in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Developmental Neuroscience. During her graduate work, she plans to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie neurodevelopmental disorders which affect behavior. Mara is co-mentored by Dr. Mike Hart and Dr. David Raizen and is researching  the effect of mutations in the autism-related gene, Neurexin, on aggregation, stress response, sleep, and neuronal morphology in C. elegans as part of the Autism Spectrum Program of Excellence (ASPE). When not in the lab, Mara can be found traveling, baking, binge-watching Netflix, and going to breweries with her new rescue Australian Shepherd, Crispr!


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Alexis Crockett

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Rotations:

  • Stewart Anderson, Ethan
  • Jorge Alvarez
China Byrns

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Dissecting the molecular pathology of traumatic brain injury in a Drosophila model

Advisor(s):

  • Nancy Bonini

Rotations:

  • Max Kelz
  • Nancy Bonini
  • Tracy L. Bale
Gregory Cajka

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Erika Holzbaur
  • Erica Korb
  • Guo-li Ming
  • Ophir Shalem
Sydney Cason (she/her/hers)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: Autophagosomal motility in axons and disease

Advisor(s):

  • Erika Holzbaur

Rotations:

  • Erika Holzbaur
  • Thomas Jongens
  • James Shorter

As a member of Dr. Erika Holzbaur's lab, Sydney studies the function of motor proteins in neurons and autophagy. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Sydney graduated from DePauw University in 2016 and completed an undergraduate thesis the aging auditory system with Drs. Edward Bartlett and Stephanie Gardner at Purdue University.


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Christopher Adam

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2018

Rotations:

  • Douglas Coulter
  • Han-Chiao Isaac Chen
Adeeti Aggarwal

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2014

Project Title: Examining the Effects of Anesthetics on the Long Range Evoked Activity from Multiple Sensory Stimuli

Advisor(s):

  • Max Kelz
  • Alexander Proekt

Rotations:

  • Erika Holzbaur
  • Max Kelz
Brandon Bastien

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Dennis Kolson

Rotations:

  • Marc Fuccillo
  • Dennis Kolson
  • Seema Bhatnagar
Katherine Beattie

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2013

Project Title: Determining the function of TRPC3 in Allergic Contact Dermatitis Induced Itch

Advisor(s):

  • Wenqin Luo

Rotations:

  • Wenqin Luo
  • Mariella De Biasi
  • Kelly Jordan-Sciutto
  • Stewart Anderson, Ethan
Ethan Blackwood (he/him/his)

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2019

Advisor(s):

  • Alexander Proekt

Rotations:

  • Konrad Kording
  • Alexander Proekt
  • Vijay Balasubramanian

Ethan studied neuroscience and computer science at Dartmouth College and graduated in 2017. Before coming to Penn, he was a research technician for two years with Dr. Alik Widge at his Translational NeuroEngineering Lab at MGH and UMN. This involved developing systems to deliver precisely timed neural stimulation in rodents, with the goal of eventually improving deep brain stimulation for PTSD. In the fall of 2019, he is rotating with Prof. Konrad Kording and learning all about causality and the various ways artificial neural networks can be useful for neuroscience.


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Connor Brennan

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2016

Project Title: How do brains "think"

Advisor(s):

  • Alexander Proekt

Rotations:

  • Alexander Proekt
  • Eleni Katifori
Julia Brynildsen

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2015

Project Title: Interactions of Genetic Variants on Opioid and Nicotine Dependence

Advisor(s):

  • Julie Blendy

Rotations:

  • Julie Blendy
  • John Dani
Harang Ju

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2017

Advisor(s):

  • Danielle Bassett

Rotations:

  • Danielle Bassett
  • Maria Geffen

I received a BS in computer science and a BA in cognitive science at the University of Virginia. At Penn, I rotated with Maria Geffen and Dani Bassett, and for my thesis, I am currently studying dynamical models of cognition with Dani Bassett.


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Aimee Juan

Degree: MD/PhD
Matriculation Year: 2013

Project Title: Neuroepigenetic Mechanisms of Imprinted Gene Grb10 in Neuronal Differentiation

Advisor(s):

  • Marisa Bartolomei

Rotations:

  • Marisa Bartolomei
  • Joshua Gold
Ari Kahn

Degree: PhD
Matriculation Year: 2013

Advisor(s):

  • Danielle Bassett

Rotations:

  • Yale E. Cohen
  • Nicole Rust
  • Javier F. Medina
  • Geoffrey Aguirre
  • Danielle Bassett

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