2019 Students

Mala Ananth, NINDS

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the labs of Dr. Lorna Role and Dr. David Talmage. I am interested in the development and heterogeneity of cholinergic circuits, and their vulnerability in aging. To study this, I use neuroimaging techniques in primates, as well as electrophysiological and neuroanatomical approaches in rodents. Outside of the lab, I enjoy traveling, reading, and binging netflix.





lukasanneserLukas Anneser, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research

I am a third year PhD student in the group of Erin Schuman at the MPI for Brain Research. My scientific goal is to understand how different environments shape the state of a brain and thus influence behavior. To this aim, I study the impact of chronic social isolation on zebrafish and analyse transcriptomic and behavioral changes. Outside the lab, I can be found bouldering, meditating, and reading up on artifical intelligence and rationality.




Briana Bohannon, University of Miami

I’m a fourth year PhD student in the lab of Dr. Peter Larsson where I study how polyunsaturated fatty acids modify the activity of voltage-gated ion channels. I use two-electrode voltage clamp to measure changes in channel currents and voltage dependence induced by fatty acid analogues with the goal of finding potential therapeutics for cardiac arrhythmia. Outside of the lab, I enjoy drinking coffee, running, yoga, boxing, paddleboarding, and reading.




Mariia Burdyniuk, UC San Francisco

My short name is Masha and  I am from Ukraine. I am a cell biologist by training, received my PhD at EMBL Heidelberg and recently transitioned to neurosciences. My postdoctoral project at UCSF, California, addresses dopaminergic alterations on brain-wide connectivity in zebrafish larvae. 





Caroline David, University of Massachusetts, Boston

I am a third year PhD candidate in the lab of Jin Ho Park at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I am broadly interested in neuroendocrine mechanisms during development. I work with a hybrid mouse model and use behavioral assays and immunohistochemistry to study the role of gonadal hormones during puberty on adult steroid-independent sociosexual behaviors. This work involves prepubertal gonadectomy and hormone replacement, which has inspired me to also study the peripheral effects of exogenous hormone replacement on metabolism. In my free time, I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, hiking, and kayaking.




Alfonso Deichler, University of Chile

I am working in the field of comparative neuroanatomy and neuroethology. I am interested in the relationship between structural changes in the brain and the changes in ecology and behavior during evolution. The main objective of my research is to explore the role of behavior in evolutionary change.





Margaret DeMaegd, Illinois State University

In the three years that I have been in Dr. Wolfgang Stein’s lab, I have primarily focused on how one sensory modality (chemosensation) alters another (proprioception). Specifically, I have found that chemosensation reduces the frequency of ectopic action potentials backpropagating into the dendrites of the proprioceptive neuron, thereby increasing the neuron’s sensitivity to muscle tension. Recently, I have begun to transition into new research focused on evolutionarily conserved mechanisms that support rhythmic neuronal activity when body temperature changes. Outside of the lab, I can be found hiking the Midwest cornfields and telling jokes I could have sworn were funny.



Eric Edsinger, Marine Biological Laboratory

I am a Research Scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory. My lab’s focus the last several years has been on development of pygmy cephalopods for laboratory research, including pygmy squid and pygmy octopus. I’m new to neuroscience but interested in functional characterization of neural circuits in the context of novel cephalopod systems, like jet propulsion, dynamic skin color, and arms and suckers, and also in comparative characterizations of cephalopod cognitive abilities and social behavior in comparison to human and other vertebrates.




Kara Fulton, Brown University/NIH Graduate Partnership Program

I am a PhD student in Dr. Kevin Briggman’s lab at the Research Center Caesar in Bonn, Germany. I have been investigating the synaptic connectivity of the mouse olfactory bulb circuitry and developing new methods for correlative electron microscopy (EM). Through a correlative EM reconstruction of a single genetically-identified glomerulus, I aim to understand the wiring specificity of glomerular layer interneurons underlying the functional differences of the olfactory bulb projection neurons. In my spare time, I enjoy rock climbing and cycling.




Dawei Han, University of Maryland

I am a second-year Ph.D student in Dr. Catherine Carr’s lab. My research is centered around different aspects of snake hearing. Projects I’m working on include mapping the anatomical organization of  the snake’s central auditory system with tract tracing, and using evoked potentials to evaluate how the somatosensory system may contribute to vibration detection. A herpetologist by nature, I maintain a small personal collection of reptiles, and enjoy field herping in my spare time.




Alena Lemazina, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

I am a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Behavioural Neurobiology at the MPI for Ornithology, Germany. My PhD project is focused on neural control of vocalization behavior in birds in different social contexts. To investigate this, I use the combination of individual bioacoustic monitoring with neural recordings in groups of freely-behaving birds. Outside the lab, I enjoy organizing science communication events, drawing and nature photography.




Kinga Kocsis, RCNS- Hungarian Academy of Sciences

I am a Ph.D. candidate working in Ferenc Mátyás’s lab in Budapest, Hungary. I study the electrophysiological and anatomical underpinnings of the direct thalamoamygdala network function which essentially contributes to affective processing in mice. I aim to examine how sensory cues with learned or innate affective value are extracted from the physical environment, and how they alter behavior. Outside the lab, I explore percussion rhythms, languages and analog photography.




Yuta Mabuchi, Cornell University

I am a second year Ph.D. student in Nilay Yapici’s lab at Cornell University, where I study the neural circuits controlling the sexually dimorphic behaviors in Drosophila. I have used genetic and behavioral methods to investigate the neural circuits and molecular pathways regulating sex specific social behaviors. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, cooking, and hiking.





Michael Martin, University of Toronto

I am a PhD student in the Thiele lab at the University of Toronto. I use larval zebrafish to investigate the neural basis of action selection in a brain region that is homologous to the mammalian striatum. I do this through the combined use of two-photon calcium imaging, high speed behavior tracking and visual stimulation. In my free time I enjoy bouldering, reading, and volleyball.





Jaison Omoto, UCLA

I’m a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Donlea, where I am investigating the neural circuit basis of sleep control in Drosophila. My project involves using genetic and behavioral methods to identify neuronal populations in flies that regulate sleep-wake state, with the goal of probing their functional properties and circuit interactions. Outside of the lab, I enjoy taking long walks and sipping coffee on a nice patio with company.




Jean Carlos Rodríguez Díaz, University of Michigan

I am a third year Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Kevin Jones where we study different drugs that imitate psychosis. I am interested in understanding how neurons participate in coordinated network activity and how these psychotomimetic drugs influence this network activity. We do this by using microelectrode arrays on both neuronal cultures and hippocampal sections. In my free time I enjoy board games, video games, and recently got into making terrariums and bonsai.




Lee Vaasjo, Tulane University

I am a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Maria J. Galazo at Tulane University, specializing in cortical development and neuronal reprogramming. Morphology, electrical properties, synapses, protein and transcriptome signatures are the foundation of characterizing neuronal sub-types. Can we recapitulate these elements in an adult reprogrammed cortical neuron, and what will the limiting factor tell us of the way we define neuronal cell types? This is my food for thought. In my spare time I try to; scuba dive, cook, run and go to New Orleans festivals.




István Taisz, MRC – Laboratory of Molecular Biology

I am a second year PhD student in the lab of Dr. Greg Jefferis where I use Drosophila to investigate circuits underlying decision making events. We used EM connectomics to explore a pheromone sensing circuit involved in social behavior. Recently I moved on to calcium imaging and quantitative behavioural tests to describe the functional logic of the found circuit motifs and to understand how they guide mate choice in female flies. In my spare time I enjoy traveling and playing volleyball.




Philip Vieira, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Cocaine, heroin, and other drugs of abuse capitalize on the brain’s adaptive reward system, creating a biological framework that supports the cycle of addiction. As an assistant professor at California State University Dominguez Hills, my lab interrogates this reward circuitry to identify molecular and epigenetic processes underlying substance abuse and addiction in order to develop potential targets for treatment. Additionally, I study pedagogical practices to increase the participation, persistence and retention of underrepresented students in STEM. Outside of the lab, I distract myself with home fermentation, including beer, kombucha, keffir and kimchi.




Alexandra Yarger, Case Western Reserve University

I am a fourth year PhD candidate in Dr. Jessica Fox’s lab. I am interested in neural coding of sensory systems. My research investigates how flies use specialized mechanosensory structures called halteres to extract and encode complex motion information during flight and other behaviors. When I’m not in the lab studying insect aerial maneuvers, I practice my own form of acrobatics, gymnastics. I also enjoy doing ballet, and other styles of dance.