Graduate Students


GPN Retreat!


GPN Festival of Science and Friendship! Thank you to the GPN alumni and everyone who came out for a wonderful time!


Fun at Tools of the Trade! Thank you to everyone that made this year’s TOT a success. See you in September.

AND who could forget the cruise in Boston Harbor! We missed you Quan and Zinong…



ENTERING CLASS 2018 Memories



Boston Harbor cruise!



 Rifqi Affan received his B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University in 2018. His previous research experience includes the investigation of resting-state and task-related neural oscillations associated with high-intensity binge drinking using electroencephalography, as well as the examination of theta rhythm and neural noise in human intracranial  recordings during memory encoding and retrieval. At Boston University, he hopes to study how the brain encodes and processes information at the microscopic and population level. In his free time, Rifqi can be found exercising, drawing/painting, or writing while immersed in strange instrumental music. Mentor: Ben Scott.

Caroline Ahn graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. in neuroscience in 2017. During and after her undergraduate years, she worked as a study coordinator for the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt. Her main role was to recruit and run subjects for Alzheimer’s clinical studies. Caroline is interested in using functional neuroimaging to shed light on how the human brain functions. Outside of the lab, Caroline likes to spend her time exploring the Boston food scene, reading at the local library, or hanging out with her cat. Mentor: Chantal Stern.

Tushar Arora received his Bachelor’s degree In Computer science from IIIT Delhi and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Neuroscience from Stony Brook University. His master’s thesis was focused on characterizing different state space models for inferring and predicting neural dynamics. During his undergraduate studies, he worked on combining local and global error signal propagation in spiking neural networks. Before going for his master’s, he also worked with Dr. Mingbo Cai at UTokyo on designing vision models for learning object representation. At Boston University, he plans to work on building robust predictive latent variable models for population dynamics and employ them in closed-loop settings for real-time inference and manipulation in animal models. His primary research interests include neural dynamics, dynamical systems, and machine learning. In his free time, he likes playing table tennis, swimming, street photography, and building utopian urban sprawls in Cities Skylines.

Makaila Banks graduated in 2020 with a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester as a McNair Scholar. During her undergraduate career she researched how attention modulates neuron activity in the rhesus macaque visual system, and how optical aberrations affect temporal vision processing in humans. Most recently in the Root Lab at CU Boulder, she used fluorescent monosynaptic retrograde tracing to map the whole brain inputs to glutamate-GABA co-transmitting cells in the medial VTA of mice. At Boston University she hopes to research the neural development, and treatments of various psychiatric disorders such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety to educate and improve the mental wellness of vulnerable members of our society. In addition to neuroscience she loves to cook, explore nature, listen to music, and make jewelry for her friends. Mentor: Laura Lewis

Becky Belisle

Becky Belisle graduated from UCLA in 2022 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Cognitive Science. During her undergraduate years, she primarily focused on the processing and analysis of human MRI data with the Shattuck Research Group of UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center. She also worked for a Massachusetts General Hospital lab studying pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders as well as a Mass Eye and Ear lab specializing in laryngeal dystonia. She is currently interested in the neuroscience of cognition and language, especially at the interface of working memory and language.

Jackie BirnbaumJackie Birnbaum received her B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Ethics from Northeastern University. She did most of her undergraduate research at Harvard Medical School studying the cellular heterogeneity in the dorsal raphe nucleus, a midbrain structure where serotonin is produced. Her current research interests include traumatic brain injury and psychiatric illness.  When Jackie is not geeking out over science she can be found rock climbing, hiking, and camping in the mountains. Mentor: Michael Economo.

Patrick Bloniasz

Patrick F. Bloniasz graduated from Bowdoin College in 2022 with an A.B. in Neuroscience and Digital and Computational Studies. During his undergraduate years, Patrick studied several animal models via biomathematical and statistical tools. His early work began by building a computational model of the cardiac ganglion in the American Lobster, which was used to characterize the novel neuromodulator calcitonin-like diuretic hormone (Homam-CLDH). He then used bioinformatic tools, such as CD-hit, to identify genes implicated during neuronal regeneration in crickets. His recent work focused on using empirical and simulated electroencephalography (EEG) data to identify the oscillatory mechanism underlying human source episodic memory retrieval in the frontal-parietal network. Post-graduation, Patrick served as a Research Associate in Neuroscience and as a Researcher in Biomathematics at Bowdoin College, primarily studying pre-independent component analysis (ICA) preprocessing in EEG data. Patrick is currently interested in building statistical models of neural signals at different spatial scales that capture static anatomical and state-dependent dynamical features of neural time series (e.g., directed coherence, neuromodulation). In addition to statistical neuroscience he loves hiking/trail running, weightlifting, singing, and playing guitar, piano, or saxophone, depending on the vibe.

Ellie Brown received a B.A.Sc. in cognitive science and a minor in math from McGill University in Montreal in 2019. As an undergraduate, she did research on the anatomical basis of the head direction system, crucial to navigation, in mice. At Boston University, she hopes to use in vivo imaging to explore the neural basis of decision making in rodents. In her free time she enjoys being active through running, hiking, or playing tennis, and exploring new places with friends. Mentor: Mark Howe.

Spencer Byers graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in Neuroscience and Molecular Biology in 2016. In Spencer’s past research at the OSUCCC James Hospital he investigated neuronal DNA damage response mechanisms using a brain slice culture model. Following Kenyon, Spencer pursued full-time research for two years at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As a member of the in vivo pharmacology team of the Drug Discovery Division at the Lieber Institute, he tested the efficacy of pro-cognitive compounds molecularly and behaviorally in rodents. At Boston University he hopes to explore rodent learning and memory systems with a focus on translation from preclinical animal models of psychiatric disorders to the clinic. In his free time Spencer is a Cleveland sports enthusiast, an avid crossword puzzler, an amateur horticulturist, and a fan of the TV series X-Files and Twin Peaks. Mentor: Ian Davison.

Albit Caban received a B.A. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus in 2020. As an undergraduate, he did research on the neural correlates of decision making, in rats. At Boston University, he hopes to use electrophysiological and in-vivo imaging techniques to study the neuronal mechanisms of learning. In his free time, he likes to skydive, scuba dive, cook, and play the piano. Mentor: Steve Ramirez

Viviana Castro graduated with honors from the University of San Diego in 2023 with a B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience and minors in French and Biomedical Ethics. At USD, she researched the role of the endocannabinoid system in elapsed time memory to better understand how time discrimination processes occur in the brain. At Boston University, Viviana hopes to research memory and neurodevelopment to study its extensive impacts, such as in learning disabilities. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, biking, music, and finding the best dessert shop.

Shuqiang Chen graduated from Nanjing Tech University in China with a B.S. in Applied Mathematics (2018). He then received a M.A. in Statistics at Boston University (2020), advised by Dr. Uri Eden. After graduating, he worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital with Dr. Michael Prerau. His current project focusing on the sleep apnea dynamics inspires him to transfer his major to the computational neuroscience. At GPN, he hopes to conduct research regarding neural spike train analysis, machine learning in neuroscience and bridging the gap between biological models and statistical models. Outside the lab, he enjoys swimming, fencing, table tennis, hiking and traveling, and is a big fan of Stephen Curry. Mentor: Uri Eden.

Dhinakaran Chinappen was born and raised on the beautiful island of Mauritius. Dhinakaran attended the University of Pennsylvania under full undergraduate scholarship, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Bioengineering) from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as well as a Bachelor in Economics with a minor in Mathematics. In his time at Penn, he held a 5 year fellowship with the Penn Mathematics Department and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships for this community work in Philadelphia high schools and is a recipient of the Bioengineering Senior Design Award for his work on eye-tracking in breast cancer digital mammography. His work at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia studying brain dysmorphology in children born with HIV earned him a full graduate fellowship from the Institute of African Development at Cornell University where he earned his Masters in Biomedical Engineering from the Graduate School and the Engineering School, besides being appointed on the Engineering Leadership Advisory Board and earning a top spot for his Masters Project on guided lung radiotherapy. In his role as Director of Biomedical Engineering at Picofemto, he led his team on design, engineering and testing towards FDA clearances on two Class II medical devices and in the process was awarded an O-1 visa for Extraordinary Abilities in the Sciences. After spending nearly 3 years doing community outreach programs in New York City and completing an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he joined the Neurology department at the Massachusetts General Hospital where his work in pediatric epilepsy enticed him to apply for the computational track in our GPN program, working with his mentors, Profs. Catherine Chu and Mark Kramer. Mentors: Catherine Chu and Mark Kramer.

Nicholas Cicero graduated with honors and high distinction from Cornell University in 2021 with a B.S. in Human Development. As an undergraduate his research was focused on using functional MRI and psychophysiological measurements to characterize differences between healthy younger and older adults and identify neural correlates of attention and memory with aging. He also studied resting-state networks and investigated how peripheral metrics, such as heart rate variability and gut microbiota, may influence brain function. At Boston University he hopes to continue using functional neuroimaging methods and computational techniques to understand cognition. He is specifically interested in applying these methods to clinical populations with the hopes of identifying neural targets for treatment. Outside of his neuroscience interests, he enjoys alternative rock and indie music, playing and watching soccer, going to the gym, and traveling. Mentor: Laura Lewis

Richard Coca graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Human Biology, MS in Community Health and Prevention Research, and a minor in Anthropology. At Stanford, he worked on characterizing mouse models of rare genetic epilepsies for the Stanford Center for Undiagnosed Disease under Dr. Wheeler. He also worked on understanding the role of tau functional domains on tau propagation in the Yang lab. At Boston University, Richard is interested in exploring translational projects while building community in and out of lab. Outside of lab, Richard enjoys going to the nearest indie concert, watching the latest Netflix show, and conducting research on the benefits of having ice cream once per week.

Morgan Corniquel received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Biology from the University of Texas in Austin, TX. She went on to receive a master’s degree in Psychology from New York University in 2018. Her master’s thesis work was focused on amygdala activity in response to repeated affective images in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder and a history of self-harm behaviors. While completing her master’s, she also worked in the Likhtik lab at Hunter College using optogenetics to investigate the role of the basal forebrain in fear memory consolidation in mice. In the time following her master’s degree, she worked at Icahn School of Medicine at the Depression and Anxiety Center studying the biological underpinnings of psychiatric disorders and potential novel treatments including KCNQ channel openers and ketamine. At Boston University, she plans to explore the relationship between the epithalamus and the dorsal raphe with the hope of understanding how this circuit is affected by neurodegenerative diseases. In her free time, Morgan enjoys hiking, thrift shopping, playing board games, and finding new shows to binge on Netflix. Mentor: Michael Wallace

Will Cunningham is a musician, perfectionist, and foremost, a nerd. After receiving a double B.S (Mathematics and Computer Science) from University of Rochester, he worked at Epic Systems on healthcare software that improved interoperability between hospital networks, especially in Finland. Realizing he was too intellectually curious to work solely on software, he took online courses until he figured out his true calling. At GPN he hopes to use his computational background for research that leads to treatments for people with neurological disorders. Outside of his professional life he loves rock climbing, fencing, hiking, sharing music, and geeking out with passionate people. Mentor: Michael Economo

Quan Do graduated from Northeastern University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Physics. He has previously wrote imaging apps for security and commercial purposes, built wearables to assist patients with neuromotor impairment, automated tools for designing graphics cards, applied machine learning to identify and classify neuronal types, developed simulation software for driverless vehicles, worked on a biomimetic Lobster robot, and attempted at creating an interactive holographic display. He is currently interested in studying the canonical computations in brains that can be applied to creating better algorithms and smarter machines. When not working or traveling, he enjoys learning a new skill or trying out a new hobby. Mentor: Michael Hasselmo.

Cameron Donahue graduated right at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College with a dual degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Psychology on the Neuroscience track. At UMass Amherst, he studied sex differences in rats in norepinephrine projection from the Locus Coeruleus to the prefrontal cortex with Dr. Elena Vazey. Following graduation, he worked at Mass General Hospital with Dr. Bradley Hyman studying Alzheimer’s Disease and tau protein. In his free time, he likes to knit, bake bread, hike, bike, and whenever possible, ski (XC/alpine) and ice skate.

Tudor Dragoi received his B.S. in Neuroscience from Brandeis University in 2018. While at Brandeis, Tudor worked in the lab of Stephen D. Van Hooser where he studied the development of cortical circuit function in ferret visual cortex. After graduating from Brandeis, Tudor joined the lab of Mriganka Sur at MIT as a research associate. There, he led a project investigating temporal prediction in marmosets using a combination of computational modeling, behavioral approaches and LFP recordings. At Boston University, Tudor seeks to study the neural mechanisms of learning and memory and how networks of brain regions interact to encode sensory information and enable decision making. Outside of Neuroscience, Tudor is an avid follower and player of soccer, enjoys cooking and the outdoors. Mentor: Michael Economo

Matt Dunne graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2013 with a B.A. in Neuroscience and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Management. During his undergrad, he worked in a Visual Cognitive Neuroscience lab exploring navigability and scene representation using fMRI. After graduating, he worked with Dr. Karin Schon at Boston University School of Medicine investigating the effects of exercise on brain function and structure. Matt is interested in continuing to utilize human neuroimaging techniques to explore cognitive neuroscience questions. Outside of neuroscience, Matt enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and trying new things. Mentor: Chantal Stern.

Isaac Falconer received a B.A. in applied linguistics from Portland State University and a B.S. in chemistry from University of Colorado Denver (UCD). At UCD, he worked as a research assistant in Dr. Liliya Vugmeyster’s lab studying the structure and dynamics of Aβ amyloid fibrils and the effects of isotopic labeling on the measurement of biophysical properties of proteins. After graduating, he spent a year working as a lab assistant in a GI pathology lab before entering Boston University’s MD/PhD Program. Isaac is currently interested in the reorganization of functional brain networks during recovery from acquired brain injury (ABI) such as stroke and how this relates to language recovery in people with aphasia due to ABI. Outside of the lab, Isaac likes bouldering, hiking, running, and playing guitar and piano. Mentor: Swathi Kiran

Jingxuan Guo graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Physics from UCLA in 2021. She then completed her M.A. in Psychology at Boston University. At BU, she studied the neural mechanisms underlying human navigation and individual differences in human abstract reasoning. Her other experiences involved analyzing the relationship between pigeons’ reaction time and bits of information as well as the relationship between psychotic-like experiences and affective symptoms in healthy human populations. At BU she hopes to continue to study human cognition using neuroimaging and computational methods. Jing enjoys traveling, watching movies, playing the piano and painting.

Kylie Isenburg received her B.S. in Psychology at Endicott College in 2016. After graduating, she spent a few years working in a chronic pain neuroimaging lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her main project assessed the neural mechanisms underlying social interaction between patients and clinicians in the clinical setting, and how this influences the perception of pain. Kylie is interested in continuing to work in functional brain imaging as a graduate student at Boston University. When she’s not in the lab she enjoys running, baking, drawing, and spending time with her family and friends. Mentor: Chantal Stern

Akemi Ito

Akemi Ito graduated from the University of San Diego in 2022 with a B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Biomedical Ethics. During her time at USD, Akemi focused on investigating how the brain processes time and space with relation to memory. At Boston University, she is interested in continuing her study of memory, as well as exploring how these mechanisms help guide behavior. Outside of the lab, Akemi enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, searching for the best ice cream, and coming up with a good pun.

Anosha Khawaja-Lopez

Anosha Khawaja-Lopez. Anosha earned a B.A. in psychology from Rutgers University in 2017 and an M.A. in psychology from Montclair State University in 2020. She began her research career as an undergraduate, studying the relationship between acute stress and emotion regulation in human subjects. She transitioned to rodent models of stress in 2018, and since then has completely lost her fear of mice. Currently, she is interested in studying the effects of stress and fear on memory impairment and other cognitive dysfunctions. Anosha is very interested in conducting research that can be used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in humans. Outside of academics, she enjoys collecting plants, trying new recipes, and thrifting.

scott_knudstrup (3)Scott Knudstrup received a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in 2015. As an undergraduate, his primary research revolved around the dynamical features of synchronous behavior in brain tissue as they relate to acetylcholine and short-term plasticity. Prior to becoming a student of the sciences, Scott earned a B.F.A. in Music from the California Institute of the Arts, and subsequently taught guitar to half the kids across L.A. He is particularly interested in the neural bases of perception and cognition and their implications/applications for synthetic intelligence. His extraneural interests include film, mathematical logic, and baseball. Mentor: Jeff Gavornik.

Madeline Kuppe graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a B.S. in Biopsychology in 2017. Throughout her time as an undergraduate, she gained experience in pre-clinical addiction research using models of alcohol dependence behavior in mice and rats. After graduating, she spent 4 years assisting with clinical research studies at McLean Hospital’s Imaging Center and then at Mass General Hospital’s Martinos Center. These experiences introduced her to a variety of neuroimaging methods (e.g., MRI, MRS, PET), and provided exposure to many different clinical populations (e.g., college-aged cannabis users, veterans, older adults diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease). With the GPN, Maddie hopes to explore clinical pharmacology while building on her experience with neuroimaging techniques. Her research interests relate to changes in human brain structure and function over time: how we can identify and utilize new therapeutics to facilitate healthy neural functioning and/or to alter the progression of disease pathologies. When not thinking about brains, Maddie is usually doing yoga, attempting (and struggling) to cook, or binge-watching a show on Netflix. Mentor: Shelley J Russek.

Meagan Lauber graduated with honors in 2021 from the University of South Carolina, earning a  Bachelor of Science in Experimental Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Health Studies with a minor in German. During undergraduate, she worked in the lab of Dr. Jessica Klusek studying motor dysfunction in carriers of the FMR1 premutation. She developed this research into her Senior Honors Thesis analyzing vocal motor dysfunction as an early biomarker of neuromuscular decline associated with the neurodegenerative movement disorder fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). She also spent a semester abroad conducting research at the University of Ghana studying community-based strategies for promoting female empowerment and gender equality in school-age girls. In 2021, she was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for her proposal on machine learning algorithms to identify predictors of the FMR1 neurodegenerative phenotype. During her doctoral training she hopes to continue exploring the brain, specifically focusing on how computer and data science techniques can revolutionize how we study, diagnose, and treat neurodegenerative diseases. When she’s not in the lab, you can find her exploring the great outdoors, training for her next marathon, or working in the lab because, let’s face it, she’s there all the time. Mentor: Vijaya Kolachalama

Heloise LeBlanc

Heloise Leblanc received a BA in Medical Science and minors in Psychology and Public Health from Boston University as part of the Seven Year Accelerated Medical Program. As an undergraduate, she worked in the Ramirez Lab on multiple projects using optogenetics to study the interplay of social interactions with memory and cognition. In 2020, she entered the MD/PhD program at Boston University and continued working in the Ramirez Lab during medical school, studying the effects of acute sleep deprivation on the cellular and brain-wide network dynamics activated by hippocampal-dependent memory tasks. In graduate school, she hopes to investigate the multiplex relationships between the limbic system and glioblastoma morbidity in rodent models. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, yoga, taking long walks while listening to podcasts, and photography. Mentors: Steve Ramirez and Bob Varelas

Will Lynch received his B.A. from Oberlin College, majoring in neuroscience and minoring in chemistry. He previously conducted research analyzing morphological decline in single dopamine cells across age in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease while also investigating how neuromodulators of the dopaminergic system influence addiction-related behaviors. While at Boston University, Will hopes to further explore molecular underpinnings of drug addiction in hopes of developing novel therapeutic treatments. Will’s passions outside of lab include music, outreach, and most outdoor activities. Mentor: Camron Bryant.

Gabrielle M.

Gabrielle Magalhães received a B.A. in psychology from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2021. Early in her undergraduate years, she researched predictors for anxiety disorders and specific clusters of post-traumatic stress disorder using longitudinal study data in the lab of Dr. Alicia Swan. In her later undergraduate years, she researched the role of ventral hippocampal projections to the medial prefrontal cortex in active avoidance learning in the lab of Dr. Anthony Burgos-Robles. After graduation, she worked as a research technician in Dr. Heidi Meyer’s lab at Boston University researching the circuitry underlying safety learning in adolescents and adults. Her future research interests are focused on understanding the neural circuitry regulating fear and memory valence. She is further interested in exploring how these neural circuits develop throughout adolescence and into adulthood, and how these circuits relate to the development of psychiatric disorders. Outside the lab, she enjoys weightlifting, cooking, playing video and board games, spoiling her cats, and exploring the city. 

Samantha Malmberg graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience and B.S. in Chemistry from Northeastern University in 2017. Her academic undergraduate research focused on the structural and functional differences in neurodegenerative disease models under Dr. Craig Ferris. Through the co-op program, Samantha worked at a biotech startup studying neurodegeneration, and Pfizer asking questions about the role of the cholinergic system in attention. She completed three additional immunology internships in protein sciences, pharmacology and foundational immunology at AbbVie Inc. After graduating from Northeastern University, Samantha worked at Vertex Pharmaceuticals studying neurodevelopmental along with kidney diseases. Motivated by questions surrounding learning and memory, she returned to academia and completed an M.S. in Neuroscience at Brandeis University studying decision making under Dr. Shantanu Jadhav. All of these experiences have shaped her passion for memory research which brought her to GPN. During her free time, Samantha enjoys running with friends, practicing yoga, cooking and reading. Mentor: Michael Hasselmo

Laura Marshall received a BA in neuroscience from Boston University in 2016. After graduation, she stayed at BU to study the risk factors and pathology of chronic traumatic encephalopathy before joining the MD/PhD program at BUSM in 2018. During graduate school, she plans on studying the structure and organization of pathways in non-human primates that serve as a basis for cognitive and emotional processing. Outside of the lab, she enjoys long-distance running, rock climbing, and pottery. Mentor: Helen Barbas

Ryan McCann received a B.S. with honors in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University in 2020. Previously, he performed research in the Weinshenker laboratory, studying multiple animals models of Alzheimer’s Disease: the TgF344-AD rat and the P301S mouse. In graduate school, Ryan plans to further study neurodegeneration, and explore a burgeoning interest in neuropharmacology. He loves to read, play baseball, and spend time with friends and family. Mentor: Tara Moore

Sophia Miracle

Sophia Miracle graduated with honors from Canisius College in 2019 with a B.S in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (ABEC) and Psychology, and with minors in Anthrozoology, Clinical Counseling of Adult Populations, and Neuropsychology. Following graduation, she has worked as a Research Technician in various labs focusing on Addiction Neuroscience. Sophia started her career working at the University of Buffalo with Dr. David Dietz researching how cocaine and heroin exposure manipulates the mesolimbic dopamine pathway in Dopamine 1-Cre (D1) and Dopamine 2-Cre (D2) rats. In 2020, she transitioned to Boston University where she worked under Dr. Valentina Sabino focusing on pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) and somatostatin (SST) in the extended amygdala and prefrontal cortex in relation to alcohol use disorder (AUD) in mice. Still at BU, Sophia is finishing up her technician career with Dr. Ryan Logan where she is exploring the connection between circadian rhythms, sleep, and substance use disorders (SUD) using mouse models. As a graduate student, Sophia is interested in further investigating the neuronal processes behind addiction and its connection with comorbid disorders, specifically anxiety and depression, ultimately finding novel targets for treatments to help those who struggle with these disorders. When Sophia is not in the lab, you can find her playing video games, reading, and trying new recipes.

Amy Monasterio graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Art History from the Johns Hopkins University in 2018. She worked as a research assistant studying cognitive decline and gene expression in animal models of aging. Her other experiences involved analyzing hippocampal function and epigenetics in both aged humans and animals. At BU she hopes to pursue research in the fields of neurodegenerative disease and the neurobiology of memory. Amy enjoys traveling, museum going, and reading. Mentor: Steve Ramirez.

Arielle Moore graduated from Oakwood University with a B.S. in Biochemistry. During her undergraduate career, she worked in a Computational Chemistry lab and conducted research on how to create alternate virtual representations of molecules based on electron density-based properties using Python and Gaussian. She also conducted research in a Neuroimaging and Cognition lab at UNC-Chapel and utilized MATLAB to study the effects of stress on working memory, event-related potentials, oscillations, and subsequent encoding in the brain. She plans to continue utilizing neuroimaging and computational methods to study cognition and how it is impacted by environmental factors. Mentors: Tyler Perrachione/Emily Stephen

Kylie Moore graduated from Bowdoin College with a Bachelor of Arts in neuroscience. Upon graduation, she spent two years conducting research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, using MRI and EEG to study sleep as it pertains to mood and anxiety disorders. At Boston University, Kylie hopes to employ computational modeling and neuroimaging techniques to further understand the neurobiology of behavioral economics. Her hobbies include yoga, reading true crime novels, planning her next adventure overseas, and navigating Boston’s numerous dollar-oyster deals. Mentor: Chantal Stern.

Cristabel Portillo graduated from UC Irvine with a B.S. in Neurobiology and Behavior in 2023. During her undergrad, she researched how early life adversity impairs behavioral flexibility and reversal learning in a sex-dependent manner using an instrumental lever-pressing paradigm and water T-maze. Cristabel participated in The Leadership Alliance summer program at the University of Chicago where she researched how mutations of the SYNGAP1 gene affected spike firing and homeostatic plasticity using whole-cell patch clamp recordings. At Boston University, she seeks to apply her experiences into researching neural mechanisms involved in synaptic plasticity and neurodevelopmental disorders. Her hobbies include true-crime podcasts, aviation, and cooking.

Negar Rahmani graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Qazvin University of Medical Sciences in Iran. During her time as an undergraduate student, she participated in a research project where she studied the impact of hydroalcoholic extracts from Rosa Canina flowers and Master plants on pain and anxiety in mouse models. She later completed her Master’s degree in Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island. She worked in Dr. Jodi Camberg’s lab for three years, where her main research focus was investigating the role of the Hsp104 chaperone protein in the disaggregation and disassembly of Amyloid beta in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae model system. She continued her work as a research associate, focusing on model development in vivo for cognitive decline in neurovascular and neurodegenerative indications. At Boston University, she hopes to conduct research on applying new technologies to study the neural basis of cognition and complex learned behavior. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her cat, practicing yoga, and watching movies.

Luis Ramirez Profile PictureLuis Ramirez received his B.S. in Science and Technology Studies from NYU Tandon School of Engineering studying topics in physics, engineering, philosophy of science, public scientific literacy, and finally, perception and attention. His research interests include expanding our knowledge of sensory processing and its relationship to our moment-to-moment experience. His motivations stem not only from a passion for learning and discovery, but also from the potential to improve the lives of those with sensory disabilities, to inform others of the beauty of our ability to understand the intricacies that compose our perception, and to inspire others to pursue similar endeavors in understanding the disconnect between the physical attributes of the world and our perception of those attributes. In his spare time, Luis loves to produce music of all genres, write, travel, and catch up on his favorite TV shows. Mentor: Sam Ling.

Gabriela A. Rodríguez-Morales graduated with honors from Universidad Metropolitana, San Juan, Puerto Rico with a B.S. in Biomathematics. As an undergraduate student, Gabriela participated in two REU summer programs at Brandeis University, in which she worked with the alteration of the TDP-43 gene in cortical neurons and its effect in synapse formation and at Boston University in which she worked with aberration measurements in microscopes using wavefront sensors. During the last two years of her baccalaureate, Gabriela worked at a developmental neurobiology lab at University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, in which she studied the effect of bioelectrical phenomena in the regeneration of the holothurian intestine. Her current research interests include studying neural circuits and computational modeling. During her free time Gabriela loves to binge watch Netflix, go hiking and on roadtrips and spend as much time as possible at the beach. Mentor: Ben Scott.

Juao-Guilherme Rosa graduated in 2018 with a B.A. in Neuroscience Studies and minors in Biology and Psychology from Macalester College, Saint Paul. As an undergraduate, he modeled Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type-8 (SCA8) RNA gain-of-function mechanisms in a cerebellar neuron-like cell line. He later worked at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, where he studied the protective and regenerative effects of exogenous brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) on neurodegeneration and behavioral deficits in Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type-1 (SCA1). When he’s not working, he enjoys cycling, breweries, and churrascos with his family. Mentor: Julia TCW

Ryan A. SenneRyan A. Senne received his BA in Neuroscience, with honors, here at Boston University, in 2021. During his undergraduate degree, he worked in the lab of Dr. Steve Ramirez. His work focused on how dentate gyrus (DG) memory traces can flexibly modulate defensive behavior in differential environments where he used graph theory to construct whole-brain, c-Fos, network models. He also investigated how astrocytes contribute to fear learning within the amygdala and hippocampus. Ryan is now interested in doing in-vivo imaging of “memory cells” to see how they participate in hippocampal dependent tasks and how psychedelics affect learning. Outside of research, he is a self-proclaimed “weird” coffee person, a cine/biblio-phile, and avid hiker. He also co-parents two spoiled cats, Frasier and Jeffery.

Beverly Setzer received her BS in Mathematics with a minor in Biological Sciences from North Carolina State University in 2018. As a part of NC State’s Biomathematics Research Training Group, she helped develop a method for detecting hidden nodes in neuronal networks using non-linear Kalman filtering. This project inspired her to work in a neuroscience lab where she studied the effects of Estrogen on medium spiny neuron excitability. At Boston University, Beverly hopes to increase understanding of neural dynamics resulting from diseases and medications. Beside math and neuroscience, she enjoys relaxing in nature, learning about other cultures, listening to hip hop, and thrift shopping. Mentor: Laura Lewis.

Dana Shaw graduated from The Ohio State University in 2020 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Computer and Information Science. While there, she had worked in a few different labs and has experience with mouse, rat, and human research. As an undergrad, she was part of the Neuroambassador program I-CAN that traveled to high schools around Ohio as well as parts of the country to share neuroscience with younger generations. At BU, she wishes to gain even more experience with the computational side of the field to help fulfill her dreams of developing better treatments for those with disabilities. Some of her favorite hobbies include: reading, playing piano, listening to as much music as possible, watching horror films, and discovering TV shows from around the world to binge on Netflix. Mentors: Mark Kramer and Xue Han

Naomi Shvedov graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Cell Biology and Neuroscience, and a minor in Psychology. There, she performed research on sensorimotor integration in the basal ganglia in Dr. Margolis’s lab. She implemented a surgical procedure in mice that optically exposed subcortical structures, such as the striatum, to two-photon microscopy, with the goal of imaging active neurons and elucidating their role in an awake, behaving animal. Her future research interests include exploring how the mammalian brain integrates multimodal sensory information into a fluid perception of an organism’s environment, and how this unique ability influences behavior. She is interested in better understanding how this unification of sensory experience is affected in certain neuropathologies with aberrant cognitive and perceptual phenotypes. She is fascinated by all aspects of nature and biology, and loves hiking and photography. Mentor: Ben Scott.

Ben Snyder is a graduate student in the MD/PhD program at Boston University. He went to UC Berkeley for undergrad, where he majored in Neurobiology and Public Health. During undergrad Ben also volunteered in Hillel Adesnik’s lab, in which he studied cortical microcircuits and interneuron subtypes in the mouse barrel cortex. After graduating, Ben worked in Elyssa Margolis and Maggie Waung’s lab at UCSF as a lab manager studying the endogenous opioid system, particularly in the VTA and LHb, and its role in alcohol and opioid use disorder, central pain processing, and motivated behavior. Going forward, Ben is interested in studying the neuroscientific basis of psychiatric disorders and cognitive functions in the lab of Maria Medalla. In particular, he is interested in using in vitro patch clamp electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, RNAseq, and computational modeling to study the ACC, a region of the PFC involved in top-down regulation of mood and emotional state, habit formation, and action selection. Outside of the lab, Ben enjoys running, biking, weightlifting, gardening, backpacking, hiking, baking bread, fermenting kombucha, rock climbing, sketching, and much more – he’s always trying out new things and playing around with new projects! Mentor: Maya Medalla

Ashley St. John received her B.S. in Neuroscience at Lafayette College in 2018. Previous research projects include using rodent animal models to investigate the relationships between aging and stress on cognitive decline in working memory performance, as well as binge-drinking behavioral impacts on fear and anxiety. As a GPN student, Ashley hopes to continue exploring neural underpinnings of emotional behavior, memory, learning and addiction. She spends her free time reading mystery and science fiction, exploring new places and catch up on her favorite TV shows. Mentor: Ian Davison.

Rebecca Suthard graduated from Boston College in 2019 with degrees in Psychology and Biology. As an undergraduate, she worked in a behavioral neuroscience lab investigating the impact of early life stress on fear discrimination in adult rats. Using transgenic lines and optogenetics, she took part in projects examining the role of the periaqueductal gray and dorsal raphe in prediction error signaling. During an internship at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, she learned in vivo electrophysiology techniques in a behavioral neurophysiology lab. In graduate school, Rebecca hopes to explore the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, and how dysfunction of these circuits may lead to the development of anxiety and PTSD. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, running, drinking coffee and taking care of her plants. Mentors: Steve Ramirez and Hengye Man.

Daphne Toglia is originally from Miami, Florida. She completed her undergraduate studies at the New College of Florida, the state’s designated honor college, modeled after the New College of Oxford. During this time, Daphne spent a semester at the University of Oxford taking tutorials focused on neurodegenerative diseases. In 2019, she was selected as a neurological surgery summer student fellow at the University of Washington, joining the Ferreira lab to conduct research on the genetic underpinnings of intracranial aneurysms. This research laid the groundwork for her undergraduate thesis and sparked her interest in translational research. Following graduation, Daphne took three gap years to gain diverse research experiences and mentor fellow first-generation and underrepresented minorities in STEM through the Washington Opportunity Scholarship Skills That Shine Mentorship Program. The first year, she returned to the University of Washington to complete her thesis work, further contributing to the discovery of somatic PDGFRB activating variants in fusiform cerebral aneurysms. Subsequent years involved work at an immuno-incological startup and from 2022-2023 Daphne was on the Neural Dynamics Neuroanatomy Team at the Allen Institute, where she focused on optimizing the histological pipeline for mapping out thalamo-cortico-thalamic circuits in mice. When she is not working on research projects in the Stepp lab, Daphne spends her time learning languages and engaging in outdoor activities. She is currently learning Portuguese, French, and Japanese, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. Her hobbies include running, hiking, bouldering, reading, and listening to a wide array of music, ranging from reggaeton to Vivaldi. Mentor: Dr. Cara Stepp

Nicole Tomassi received her bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics with an emphasis in Statistics from San Diego State University in 2019. Her previous research experience involved modeling E.coli bacteria and T4 phage with the goal of understanding how to effectively use bacteriophages as an alternative for antibiotics. She discovered her passion for the brain during a summer REU at the Center for Neural Science at NYU. Here she mapped the input-output function of CA3 principal cells using calcium imaging in the context of an associative memory task. On the Computational track at BU, Nicole is interested in learning more about human machine interfaces and how they can assist those suffering from neural malfunctions. In her free time, Nicole enjoys rock climbing, mother nature, drinking coffee, and teaching yoga. Mentor: Cara Stepp.

Diana Trujillo-Rodriguez. She is Fulbright Scholar for the 2021 cohort. Diana was born in Bogotá and graduated with honors with a BSc in Psychology and a MSc in Neuroscience from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Her interest in dementia led her to pursue a traineeship in neuropathology in Germany. Throughout this time, she got fascinated with brain visualization, clinical observation and analysis of pathology. After finishing her studies, she worked conducting neuropsychological assessment, lecturing and as a study coordinator using tractography and resting state fMRI to evaluate disruption of functional connectivity in patients with impaired consciousness after acute brain injury. During 2019 she was visiting researcher at the Physiology of Cognition Lab at the University of Liège where she developed a passion for french, belgian beer, data science and functional neuroimaging. Mentor: Robert Stern

Lucius Kelton Wilmerding received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Macalester College. While at Macalester he studied the anxiolytic effects of Licorice Root and the effect of Dorsal Raphe Magnus lesion on analgesia in rat models. Most recently, he worked on optimizing new stimulation techniques for treating Parkinson’s Disease with Deep Brain Stimulation. Kelton is interested in studying the underlying mechanisms and properties of memory and applying this knowledge to brain computer interfaces and treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Mentor: Michael Hasselmo.

Zinong Yang graduated from the University of California San Diego in 2017 with a B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience and a minor in Philosophy. During her undergraduate years, she worked as a research assistant studying visual long-term memory and testing new P300 speller. After graduating, she spent two years as a lab assistant investigating the role of gamma synchronization and cross-frequency interaction in working memory. Her research interests include computational modeling and multi-scale neuroscience. Outside school, she loves hiking, traveling and playing with her adorable cats. Mentor: Laura Lewis.

Kim-BioPICKimberly Young received a Bachelor’s of Science, as well as a Master’s of Science in Physiology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Her Master’s work was focused on understanding the modulation of retrograde signaling programs in coordinating synapse growth at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. She developed a passion for all things microscopy related after working as a microscopy specialist at the Advanced Bio Imaging Facility at McGill for the past 4 years. Her scientific interests are wide-ranging and include: systems neuroscience (the encoding of information by neurons and small circuits), physics (mechanics, astrophysics, chaos and dynamics), drug-chemistry and mental health, and cell biology (especially transcriptional regulation and cell polarity mechanisms). She spends her free time reading science fiction and fantasy, cooking, and playing sports. Mentor: Michael Hasselmo.

Darcy Zi Yihan (Darcy) Zi received a B.E. degree in Electronic & Information Engineering from Zhejiang University of Technology, China, and an M.S. degree in Bioengineering from UC San Diego. Her previous research experience includes exploring human brain activities under hypnotherapy using scalp EEG(electroencephalography), and cortical and subcortical responses to vagus nerve stimulation using intracranial EEG.At Boston University, she hopes to study how information is stored and retrieved across the brain during learning and memory. Beyond research, Darcy enjoys spending time with her dog Puffle in a park, learning new sports, and exploring restaurants in the city.

Sarah Zylka earned her BA in Biology with a concentration in Science, Technology & Society from Bard College in 2021. As an undergraduate, she investigated the neurogenetic mechanisms underlying A.aegypti mosquito’s reproductive flexibility in response to changing environmental conditions under Dr. Leslie B. Vosshall at the Rockefeller University. After graduation, Sarah transitioned to Dr. Vanessa Ruta’s laboratory where she focused on exploring the role of sensory neural mechanisms in the evolution of divergent reproductive behaviors across closely related Drosophila species. At Boston University, Sarah is interested in exploring how sensory information influences complex behaviors and cognitive functions.