Knowing Neurons

Guest Contributors

Aside from the core team, Knowing Neurons also posts articles from guest contributors, many of whom are pursuing higher education in neuroscience.  If you would like to contribute to Knowing Neurons, please submit a pitch according to the guidelines on our Contribute to KN page, and email us at [email protected]!

2023 Contributors

Carolin Haag

Carolin is a PhD student at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen, Germany. During her master's studies in Heidelberg, she became passionate about neuroscience research and working with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In her PhD project, she uses iPSCs from epilepsy patients to explore the underlying mechanisms of the disease. In her free time she enjoys all kind of sports, knitting or writing articles for a German neuroscience blog.

Courtney Kremler

I'm a PhD student at the University of Cambridge studying Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and myelin-related biology. I received an integrated Masters and Bachelors in Neuroscience from the University of Bristol, which is where my interest in MS really developed. During my undergraduate degree I spent a year in industry at Sosei Heptares working on a remyelination-focused project, and in my PhD have moved to a more clinical perspective of MS; optimising treatments for affected patients. I'm really interested in understanding the different subtypes of MS that remain undiscovered, and how potentially different MS pathologies may be affecting patients response to different treatments. I use a combination of big data analysis and coding to explore this. I am also passionate about science communication and science policy.

Paige Nicklas

Paige is a PhD student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, studying neuroscience. She has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Neuroscience, and is interested in researching the blend of these two disciplines. Her current research investigates cognitive-motor interactions in typically and neurodivergently developing children and young adults, exploring the impact of movement on cognitive performance in early life. Outside of the lab, she is passionate about expanding science education and communication for all, and encouraging public engagement with science. In her free time, she enjoys reading, drawing, and caring for her many houseplants.

Randall Eck

Randall Eck is a PhD student in the Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Washington (UW). He graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arizona in 2020. Working in the lab of Dr. Brian Kraemer, he researches the molecular mechanisms that drive Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia using C. elegans and cell culture models. Randall has a passion for science communication, previously working as a journalist at the Arizona Daily Wildcat and developing an undergraduate course on the biology of learning and memory at UW.

Suhanee Mitragotri

Suhanee is an undergraduate student at Harvard University, majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. She is currently doing neuropsychiatry research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and in the past, she has been involved in research on animal behavior, drug development, and orthopedic trauma. When Suhanee is not doing research, she enjoys dancing, trying new restaurants, and playing board games.

Stacy Pitcairn

Stacy is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Program at Wake Forest School of Medicine. She has a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Hispanic Studies from the College of William & Mary as well as a M.S. in Neuroscience from Wake Forest. Her research focuses on how stress during early life alters brain regions that are involved in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder/addiction. Outside of research, she enjoys watching movies, playing video games, spending time outdoors with her dog, and using popular media as a tool to communicate science and engage audiences of all ages.

2022 Contributors

Javeria Shahid

Javeria Shahid is a mental health and research enthusiast. She is completing the final year of her bachelor's in Clinical Psychology at the University of Management & Technology in Pakistan. She intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology. Her area of interest includes the relationship between psychological trauma and its effects on the physiology of the human Nervous System. She passionately writes for awareness about mental health issues and coping among the general population.

Marta Garo-Pascual

Marta Garo-Pascual has a degree in Biomedicine with a master's degree in Neuroscience and is currently a PhD student in Neuroscience at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. She is part of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory directed by Dr Bryan Strange and develops her research work at the Queen Sofia Alzheimer Research Centre. She works in the field of ageing, specifically in healthy memory ageing. Using structural neuroimaging and data science, she characterises the brain and lifestyle of elderly subjects with successful episodic memory in order to find new ways to treat Alzheimer's disease.

Diana Ortega-Cruz

Diana studied a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering, motivated to understand how the human body works. She is now a PhD student at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain. Her research aims to relate biological changes in dementia (detected under the microscope) to changes in brain structure (detected with MRI) to improve the accuracy of dementia diagnosis. She enjoys learning, communicating and spending free time close to the sea!

Lauren Granata

Lauren is a final-year PhD student at Northeastern University. Her research uses rodent models to explore the impacts of early life experiences on neuroendocrine development and vulnerability to mental health disorders. She loves science communication, listening to podcasts, and hanging out with her cats.

Idha Sood

Idha is a NeuroNerd who finished her M.B.B.S from India and is on her path to pursue a Neurology residency in the USA. She has done research in Quantitative EEG and Stroke. She loves to understand why the brain works the way it works!

Elaheh Akbarifathkouhi

Elaheh is a Ph.D. student at the Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen in the Action and Perception Group. She is interested in human vision, with a particular focus on face perception and the functional organization of the ventral visual pathway. She uses machine learning as a testbed for understanding the computational mechanisms underlying vision. Previously, she did a maters' degree at the Sapienza University of Rome and Ecole Normale Superieure of Paris, working on the functional connectivity of the face-selective areas.

2021 Contributors

Anna Chaplin

Anna is a final year PhD student at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on identifying risk factors for depression and cardiovascular disease across the lifespan, with a particular focus on the role of inflammation. She uses a range of data science and epidemiology skills to investigate these associations. Prior to her PhD, Anna completed a Masters in Pharmacology and a Bachelors in Biomedical Science.

Himani Arora

Himani is a final year Master’s student at Banaras Hindu University at the Department of Zoology in India. She aspires to be a Science Communicator. She has some experience in this domain. She writes science articles, makes visuals (infographics, posters), creates science animated videos and also draws science comics.

Caitlin Goodpaster

Caitlin earned her Bachelor’s degree at The Ohio State University before joining the Neuroscience Interdepartmental PhD Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the lab of Dr. Laura DeNardo, she studies how early life stress impacts prefrontal circuitry throughout development and contributes to alternations in avoidance behaviors. She is passionate about understanding how early experiences can lead to the development of atypical behaviors and is motivated to eliminate to stigma surrounding mental illness

Aurore Bargat

Aurore earned a B.A. and a M.A in Foreign Languages and Translation, and is now working as a foreign language teacher and a teacher trainer in California. Aurore is also an Ed.D student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she focuses on how neuroscience can benefit adult language learners in their quest for language proficiency.

Filippo Pasqualitto

Filippo is a PhD student at the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR) and his PhD project aims to investigate the neural dynamics underlying the individual therapeutic relationship by monitoring client-therapist brain activity through EEG Hyperscanning. He is also investigating whether a music-based intervention within a Community Substance Misuse Treatment Service (CSMTS) has positive effects on depressive and anxiety symptoms, cravings and perceived therapeutic alliance as assessed by subjective psychometric measures and objective resting-state EEG biomarkers.

Lauren Wagner

Lauren Wagner is a doctoral student of Neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she uses magnetic resonance imaging and behavior to understand the neural bases of language development in infancy and adolescence. Lauren is passionate about discovering the secrets of the brain's critical and sensitive periods for language-learning. Outside of the lab, she is currently an officer at the Science Policy Group at UCLA and enjoys researching issues in science policy, science diplomacy, and linguistic equity in science. In her free time, she enjoys learning languages, gardening, and testing out new recipes on friends. Lauren received her bachelor’s degrees in Neuroscience and Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin.

Miguel Herrero

Miguel is a psychologist working towards his Neuroscience Master's Degree in Valencia, Spain. Enthusiastic as far as he can remember about everything related with human brain and behaviour, one of his principal goals is to democratize science and make scientific discoveries accessible to everyone. That's why he is engaged in outreach tasks such as writing articles and hosting a radio program in his city. He is also interested in research about cognition, the hippocampus and neurodegenerative disorders.

Abdullah Iqbal

Abdullah is a recent graduate of the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Sheffield and is currently working towards his MS in Neuroscience at the University of Leeds. His research involves the use of stem cells to study the spinal cord. Abdullah is passionate about understanding the brain and its inner workings. He is particularly interested in novel theories around the aetiology of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Other major areas of interest include the role of glial cells, neuro-epigenetics, and 3D models of the brain for in silico drug discovery. In his free time, he likes to explore nature and to write science articles and fiction pieces, as well as spending time with friends and family.

Mariella Careaga

Mariella received her degree in Biomedicine from Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), in Brazil. Then, she was a grad student at the Psychobiology department at UNIFESP, where she earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees. As a grad student, she was mostly interested in the effects of stress (or stressful situations) on behavior and fear memory. Currently, she is a postdoc at Uniformed Services University of the Health Science, and she also participates in science communication initiatives in Brazil (Nunca vi um cientista and Eureka!Brasil), in which she writes articles about science-related topics.

2020 Contributors

Stacey Neglia

Stacey graduated from Santa Clara University with a BS in chemistry. She spent several years as a chemistry teacher before returning to school to study biology. She now works as a freelance writer with interests in neuroscience, psychology, and all things related to the science of the mind. Her background in biology and chemistry, along with her own experiences with mental health issues, have instilled a deep curiosity about the inner workings of the brain and the ways in which they impact the way we feel. She has a commitment to education and hopes to inspire others to learn more about the brain and how it makes us who we are.

Cally Xiao

Cally is a project administrator at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging from the University of Southern California. She received a PhD in Genetics from the University of Cologne in Germany, where she studied centrosome biology during mouse development. She completed her Master's degree in Neurosciences from the University of Bonn also in Germany, studying the processing of amyloid precursor protein in Alzheimer's disease. In her current role, Cally connects Alzheimer's disease researchers around the world with a common goal of data sharing.

Zoe Guttman

Zoe received degrees in Neural Science and Psychology from New York University before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the lab of Dr. Edythe London, she combines cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics (Neuroeconomics) to investigate decision-making under risk and uncertainty in both healthy people and those with addictive disorders. She uses neuroimaging methods (fMRI, PET), economic tasks, and computational models to better understand why people make less-than-ideal choices in environments of uncertainty. She is a co-founder of the Science Policy Group at UCLA and enthusiastic about science policy and communication.

Joshua Cain

Josh is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Martin Monti at the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, Josh has focused on studying consciousness and cognitive functioning. He has done so primarily by combining neuromodulation (with ultrasound) with neuroimaging techniques like EEG and fMRI. Like most in the Montilab, he frequently works with patients in disorders of consciousness, such as coma, to better understand how consciousness arises in healthy brains and sometimes disappears when the brain is damaged. At the same time, he works on new methods that might better treat these conditions. He also works on understanding how cognitive functioning (e.g. doing mental math, paying attention) differs from and interacts with our notion of consciousness

Mariella Careaga

Mariella received her degree in Biomedicine from Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), in Brazil. Then, she was a grad student at the Psychobiology department at UNIFESP, where she earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees. As a grad student, she was mostly interested in the effects of stress (or stressful situations) on behavior and fear memory. Currently, she is a postdoc at Uniformed Services University of the Health Science, and she also participates in science communication initiatives in Brazil (Nunca vi um cientista and Eureka!Brasil), in which she writes articles about science-related topics.

Lindsay Gray

Lindsay completed the University of Southern California’s Master’s program in the Biology of Aging, studying synaptic development in fruit fly larvae. She then moved on to work as a lab manager and mouse surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, in a lab that studies the basic neural circuitry of hunger, thirst, and body temperature regulation. Beyond the lab, she is also a cellist and a freelance science writer. In her writing, she is particularly interested in the intersection of neuroscience, creativity, and mental health.

Yuki Hebner

Yuki earned her BA and MA in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Wesleyan University before starting her PhD in Gene Regulation, Epigenomics, and Transcriptomics at UCLA. In the lab of Dr. de la Torre-Ubieta, she studies chromatin remodeling during human cortical development to understand the epigenetic mechanisms underlying psychiatric disease. She is passionate about exploring chromatin biology and neurodevelopment, and is also motivated to advocate for the incorporation of the existing science to help guide problem solving in society. Yuki is the VP of the Science Policy Group at UCLA.

Sophia La Banca

Sophia received her degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR), in Brazil. Later she moved to São Paulo, also in Brazil, where she studied the differentiation of neural stem cells in the M.Sc. program in Biochemistry from Universidade de São Paulo (USP), and received a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Unifesp), studying the effects of sleep deprivation on memory and neurodevelopment. She is also a science communicator, writing to magazines, producing podcasts, and writing scripts for YouTube videos for Brazilian vehicles.

Jessica Brown

Jessica is a first-year PhD student in Pharmacology at the University of Manchester. She previously graduated from the University of Bath with a BSc in Biology, which involved a research placement at Eli Lilly investigating the role of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, her PhD research focuses on the cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia, assessing the mGluR5 receptor as a potential pharmacological target. She is ultimately interested in exploring neurological disorders to allow more effective therapeutic targeting. Beyond her research, Jess is passionate about making the joys of science accessible for all through getting involved in public engagement projects, widening participation programmes for younger generations and writing research articles.

McKenna Becker

McKenna Becker graduated from Colorado College with a degree in neuroscience before completing a Post-Baccalaureate in Psychology. She currently works as a Staff Research Associate in the Neuroinflammation, Synaptic Plasticity, and Cognitive Function Lab at UC San Francisco. McKenna is also a freelance science writer and enjoys writing about healthy cognition, consciousness, and perception. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

Jeff Olney

Jeff is a postdoc at the University of Michigan where he researches the neuroscience of emotion.  His experiments aim to better understand how specific brain systems become dysregulated in neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g. addiction, schizophrenia and depression).  Jeff is also a member of the University of Michigan’s RELATE program (Researchers Expanding Lay-Audience Teaching and Engagement)-- an organization that seeks to improve communication between scientists and the lay-public.

2019 Contributors

Mira Rakicevic

Mira works as a chief author and editor at, a website dedicated to sleep health. Her goal is to provide people with valuable advice and relevant information in order to help them have a good night’s rest. That’s why she works tightly with other sleep experts and medical writers, studying all the factors that affect sleep quality.

Denis Duagi

Denis is a final year student of an integrated master’s program in Neuroscience at University College London (UCL). She previously worked with a clinical research group at the UCL Institute of Child Health, investigating neuropathic pain in children and adolescents. Currently she is undertaking laboratory-based research, aiming to understand how neural circuits drive pain and protective behaviours. In the near future she hopes to pursue a PhD and work on understanding the neurobiology underlying the complex experience of pain. She is ultimately interested in translating laboratory research on animal models to effective treatments for chronic pain. Outside the lab, she enjoys writing articles about neuroscience research for the lay audience and is passionate about science advocacy and outreach.

Grace Browne

Grace is in her final year of a B.S. in Neuroscience at the University College Dublin in Ireland. After graduation, she is moving to London where she will be pursuing an M.S. in Science Communication at the Imperial College London. She is a writer for the science and technology section of her college newspaper, as well as doing freelance science writing alongside her college studies.

Shaun Khoo

Shaun is a postdoctoral fellow at the Université de Montréal in Canada where he works with animal models of addiction and appetitive motivation. He is interested in the neuroanatomy and pharmacology underlying motivated behaviour, having worked on orexin and glutamate systems in both operant and Pavlovian designs. He is also founding president of Episteme Health Inc., an academic-run publisher aiming to provide fee-free open access publishing for neuroscientists.

Alexandria Weaver

Alexandria graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S in Psychology before completing a postbaccalaureate in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Education at the University of California, Irvine. In the Working Memory and Plasticity Lab, she is investigating the effects of cognitive training, such as playing a musical instrument, on working memory and how skills and knowledge acquired transfer across cognitive domains. She is ultimately interested in developing methods utilizing music to support learning and memory. In addition to her research she enjoys teaching guitar, engaging and discussing with students and the community about brain science with CNLM, and exploring California in search of the perfect cup of coffee.

Ilaria Vitali

After getting a B.S. and M.S. in Biotechnologies in Milan (Italy), Ilaria moved to Switzerland where she got her PhD in Neurosciences at the University of Geneva in 2015, followed up by a short postdoc. During her time in Geneva, she boosted a deep interest for brain development along with genetic and activity-related mechanisms that drive the build-up of the cortex. She is currently working as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich (Germany), where she studies the mechanisms underlining the diversification of inhibitory neurons in the cortex.

Daniela McVicker

Daniela McVicker graduated from Durham University and has an MSc in cognitive neuroscience. Her passion is examining the hidden processes happening inside our brains. She works in the field of medical analysis, dealing with perception concepts, behavioral issues and neural mechanisms underlying cognition. She is also a blogger and editor at Top Writers Review. She writes to share her knowledge and experience, in order to inspire the new generations to continue researching and asking questions no one has asked before.

2018 Contributors

Khayla Black

Khayla is a freshman at New York University Shanghai planning to declare a major in Neural Sciences with a minor in Data Science with a concentration in artificial intelligence. In the future, she hopes to obtain an MD/PhD and become a neuroscientist studying the molecular aspects of learning and memory. During her spare time, Khayla enjoys working with the MYELIN initiative within IYNA as well as reading any neuroscience related material. Outside of studying neuroscience, she enjoys running, teaching at local elementary schools, solving math problems, and drinking immense amounts of coffee.

Ioannis Kalfas

Ioannis Kalfas is a former PhD researcher in the department of Neuroscience at KU Leuven. His research focused on primate vision, trying to explain the underlying mechanisms of shape understanding in the brain. His project involved the study of Artificial Neural networks, such as deep Convolutional Neural Networks, and their representational similarities to biological neurons from regions of the brain that are responsible for object recognition. He received his MSc. in Machine Learning from KTH University in Stockholm. Currently, after 1 year of working as a Data Scientist in Industry, he is back to KU Leuven performing research on insect identification in fields using biosensors.

Rajamani Selvam

Rajamani Selvam recently completed her PhD in Neuroscience. Her research focused on understanding the interactions between growth factors and endocannabinoids in modulating acute synaptic transmission in the brain. She is interested in a career in medical communications. She is passionate about communicating STEM education to middle and high schoolers. She is also a mentor for 1000 girls 1000 futures program and Freedom English Academy. Away from science, she is an artist and enjoys leisure travel.

Trudi G.

Trudi G. is a Licensed Professional Counselor putting her clinical knowledge, experience, and passion for research to write about mental health. Trudi is part of the team.

Marco Travaglio

Marco Travaglio is currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at The University of Cambridge. His research aims to generate novel mechanistic insights into the selective vulnerability of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s disease. His project involves the use of both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell based model systems to study the onset of the disease and its subsequent pathological manifestations. He received his MSci in Neuroscience from the University of Nottingham.

Jack-Morgan Mizell

Jack-Morgan is a graduate student in the Cognition & Neural Systems Psychology program at the University of Arizona, working in the Neuroscience of Reinforcement Learning Lab of Dr. Robert Wilson.

Cameron McKay

Cameron is a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at Georgetown University, where he studies the structural and functional brain bases of reading and arithmetic, with a particular focus on how these change over the course of training and in the presence of learning disorders. He received his B.S. in Neuroscience at Duke University, where he conducted research with Dr. Marty Waldorff.

Angela Grant

Angela Grant recently received her PhD in Psychology and Language Science from the Pennsylvania State University. She uses behavioural and neuroscience techniques to study language processing, with a focus on second-language learning and bilingualism.

Tessa Abagis

Tessa Abagis is a graduate student in cognition and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Michigan.

Patrick McNamara

Patrick McNamara is associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and a professor at Northcentral University. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and several books on the science of sleep and dreams, and on the psychology and neurology of religion. He is also a founding director of the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion.

Li Jiun Chen

Li Jiun Chen is currently pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering at Tohoku University, Japan. Her research involves building engineering microvessels for medical applications. She is also interested in microfluidic-based organ-on-chip models. In addition to burying herself in the world of microvessels, she enjoys community work, is a big fan of Knowing Neuron, and a crazy hiker.

Roland Imhoff

Roland Imhoff is professor of social and legal psychology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany.

Jennifer Tribble

Jennifer Tribble graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S. in Microbiology. She first discovered her love of neuroscience research as an undergraduate, and is now working toward her PhD at UCLA in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Fanselow. Jennifer’s interests lie primarily in behavioral neuroscience, and specifically mapping cellular changes to holistic behavioral phenotypes. In the Fanselow lab, she studies fear behavior and Pavlovian conditioning to understand the neural mechanisms of fear acquisition and extinction.

Amin Kamaleddin

Amin is a PhD student in the lab of Steven Prescott at the University of Toronto, using electrophysiological recordings in spinal cord slices to decipher how different cell types interact to control circuit function. He is also interested in analyzing the neural coding mechanisms in the brain. Beyond his contribution to provide scientific content for the lay audience, Amin is actively involved in the organization of outreach activities, aiming to make a stronger bond between science and society.

Catriona Houston

Catriona Houston is a writer, and holds a PhD in the modulation of inhibitory synaptic transmission. She has worked as a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at University College London and Imperial College, London.

Yaïr Pinto

Yaïr Pinto is a cognitive psychologist and physicist who works as an assistant professor at the psychology department of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. His main interests are how the brain creates consciousness, and to what extent we possess free will.

2017 contributors

Jens Foell

Jens studied psychology at the University of Tübingen (Germany) and got his PhD in neuropsychology from Heidelberg University (Germany). His PhD study involved finding out how phantom limbs work in the brain, and how effects of phantom limb pain therapy can be measured using neuroimaging. This work later received the highest-ranking German pain research award. He is currently located at Florida State University, where he studies the components of psychopathy and other topics related to brain and behavior. He is passionate about sharing science with a wide audience and he co-founded Real Scientists DE, the German-language variant of the popular Real Scientists Twitter account, which makes the work and lives of scientists accessible to a large online audience.

Nirosha Murugan

Nirosha J. Murugan is a postdoctoral fellow at the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University. Working in the Michael Levin Lab her research focuses on the correlates of learning and memory in a non-neural biological system which shares fundamental features with neural tissue: Physarum polycephalum. Her goal is to uncover the intricacies involved with primitive cognition and apply those concepts to biosynthetic artificial intelligence systems. Previously, Nirosha studied Behavioural Neuroscience at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada where she investigated the effects of patterned electromagnetic fields and low-level light on human memory and mood states using electroencephalographic profiles.

Cari Ritzenthaler

Cari recently completed her Master of Science from Bowling Green State University. As she figures out exactly what she wants to do next, she is currently an intern with Planting Science, a community leader with The Junior Academy, a classroom coordinator with Letters to a Pre-Scientist, and a fellow with a local elementary school! All while being a mentor for both Planting Science and The Junior Academy and participating in every outreach event that comes across her desk. She currently hosts a podcast at

Tamsin Irwin

Tamsin Irwin is a Neuroscience Graduate from Cardiff University. Tamsin recently spent a year at the University of Malta researching the effects of a Middle Cerebral Artery Occlusion on the brain and has always had an interest in the functioning of the brain. Since completing her degree Tamsin wants to further her career into the study of Epilepsy and her next step is to undertake a Masters in Neurophysiology.

Amin Kamaleddin

Amin is a PhD student in the lab of Steven Prescott at the University of Toronto, using electrophysiological recordings in spinal cord slices to decipher how different cell types interact to control circuit function. He is also interested in analyzing the neural coding mechanisms in the brain. Beyond his contribution to provide scientific content for the lay audience, Amin is actively involved in the organization of outreach activities, aiming to make a stronger bond between science and society.

Chris Frith

Chris Frith is emeritus professor of neuropsychology at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London. He is interested in the relationship between the mind and the brain, and studies belief, will and social interactions. His latest book is The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia (2015).

Ellen Wann

Ellen Wann is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Previously, Ellen studied neuroscience at St. Olaf College and the University of Pennsylvania. She currently researches spatial and temporal neuronal activity changes after ischemic stroke to assess the efficacy of stroke intervention treatments. Ellen is interested in promoting scientific evidence-based policies by bringing together scientists and community leaders. In her spare time, Ellen enjoys exercising outdoors and playing with her puppy at the dog beach.

Jacob Umans

Jacob is an incoming freshman who intends to major in biology. He participated in the 2016 USA National Brain Bee, and while there he co-founded the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA), a global network of high school students with a passion for the study of neuroscience. He currently serves as the Chairman of the IYNA's Board of Directors, and sees this role as an opportunity to share his love of neuroscience with students around the world through projects such as the MYELIN (Modern Youth Education, Leadership, and Inquiry in Neuroscience) Initiative. Jacob also has an immense interest in biology research, and has been able to indulge this through summer internships at the Salk Institute and UCI. He aspires to eventually obtain an M.D.

Amy Thomas

Amy is a Science Communication MSc student from Imperial College London and holds an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience. She hopes to communicate science through different mediums to spark interest in science and social topics. As well as writing, creating radio pieces and short films are areas of particular interest. Amy is also a musician and likes to compose music to complement her work.

Lining Zhu

Lining earned her Ph.D. from Clemson University, where she studied natural killer cell-based immunotherapy. She also established a mouse model recapitulating Kaposi’s sarcoma while working at the University of Southern California. Her current research at the City of Hope focuses on developing ultra-sensitive biosensors for detecting botulinum toxins. Outside the lab, she serves as the VP of Communications at the Association for Women in Science Los Angeles/Ventura County chapter. She is obsessed with giving speeches at Toastmasters and loves to explore nature in the National Parks.

Daniel Toker

Daniel Toker is a neuroscience PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in computational and cognitive neuroscience. In his research, he uses information theory and graph theory to characterize what the brain is doing when it's conscious, and what changes when it's not. Before coming to Berkeley, Daniel studied philosophy and neuroscience at Princeton University. His other science writing can be found on the following social media platforms: Instagram: @the_brain_scientist, Twitter: @daniel_toker, Website:

Keith Frankish

Keith Frankish is a philosopher and writer, currently living in Crete, Greece. He is a Visiting Research Fellow with The Open University, UK (where he was formerly a Senior Lecturer) and an Adjunct Professor with the Brain and Mind Programme at the University of Crete. He works mainly in philosophy of psychology and philosophy of mind, though he has interests in many other areas of philosophy.

Jessica Y. Chen

Jessica Y. Chen is a PhD candidate in neuroscience at the University of Michigan, with a BS in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California. Her main research interests are in stem cells and regeneration of the central nervous system, and her thesis work is on designing implantable biomaterial scaffolds to support and enhance regeneration following a spinal cord injury. Aside from her interests in the lab, she is an avid science communicator with a long history of involvement in STEM education of children and adults of all ages. You can learn more about her work through her LinkedIn or Twitter.

Leslee Lazar

Leslee Lazar is interested in the intersection of neuroscience and design. Having completed his PhD in Neuroscience from National Brain Research Centre (India) and post-doctoral research from Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA), he moved back to India and worked as a freelance visual science communicator. He uses illustrations, graphic design, infographics, collages and photography to communicate complex scientific concepts. His portfolio is at To know more, you can read his interview in eLife journal. Currently he is a visiting faculty at Indian Institute of Technology (Gandhinagar). He aims is to bring behavioural changes for social good using cognitive science, neuroscience and design thinking.

Rachel Jonas

Rachel received her B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Lehigh University, with a minor in Psychology. She then worked as a research assistant for two years at Rutgers University, studying impulse control disorders in patients with Parkinson’s disease. She is now a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UCLA, where she studies brain-behavior relationships in individuals with an ultra-high genetic risk for developing psychiatric disorders. She uses behavioral, neuroimaging, and genetics techniques to investigate how underlying endophenotypes may underscore the development of psychiatric illnesses.

Shuhan He

Shuhan He is the founder of MazeEngineers. He is a resident physician at the Harvard Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women's and Massachusetts Hospital, and graduated with his MD from the Keck School of Medicine. He currently works with researchers across the world to develop better objective preclinical testing. His dream is that good, mass behavior investigations can help bring new therapies to the bedside. He can be found on twitter at @ShuhanHeMD.

Caitlin Aamodt

Caitlin Aamodt is a Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience at UCLA, where she is developing a novel neuroepigenetic therapeutic to treat learned vocal communication deficits using the zebra finch model system in the lab of Stephanie White. Her research interests broadly include behavioral epigenetics, cognitive evolution, and neuropharmacology. In addition to Knowing Neurons her science writing has appeared on the blogs Speaking of Research and What is Epigenetics? In her spare time Caitlin enjoys electronic music, growing plants, practicing yoga, and writing science fiction. She can be found online at

Megumi Sano

Megumi attends high school in the UK and will be studying neuroscience at university from Fall 2017. Since representing England at the International Brain Bee World Championship in 2016, she became aware of the lack of access to neuroscience resources for high school students and has been advocating for neuroscience education through her roles as the Director of the Synapse Project and as a Board Member of the International Youth Neuroscience Association. Megumi is working together with students from around the world to design a neuroscience curriculum, the Modern Youth Education, Leadership, and Inquiry in Neuroscience (MYELIN) Initiative, for high school classrooms. She also works as a voluntary researcher at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, University of London, and collects data from children with autism spectrum disorder. She is particularly intrigued by computational approaches to cognition and behavior.


Eric Harvey

Eric is a 3rd year graduate student studying epigenetics of memory and drug abuse. Before graduate school he served in the army for 8 years. His favorite food is ramen, his least favorite food is omelettes, and he thinks Chris Farley was the best actor to come out of Saturday Night Live.

Philip Geoff

Philip Geoff is associate professor in philosophy at Central European University in Budapest (a unique and wonderful institution). His main research interest is consciousness, although he also has a sideline in political philosophy (taxation, globalisation, social justice). Having recently finished his first book Consciousness and Fundamental Reality (published with Oxford University Press June 2017), he is currently working on a book on consciousness aimed at a general audience. He has written for the Guardian and Philosophy Now and blogs at

Stephen Fleming

Stephen M Fleming is a Principal Research Associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London where he leads the Metacognition Group. The group’s research focuses on the mechanisms supporting conscious awareness, metacognition and decision-making in the adult human brain.

2016 contributors

Jennifer Tribble

Jennifer Tribble graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S. in Microbiology.  She first discovered her love of neuroscience research as an undergraduate, and is now working toward her PhD at UCLA in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Fanselow.  Jennifer’s interests lie primarily in behavioral neuroscience, and specifically mapping cellular changes to holistic behavioral phenotypes.  In the Fanselow lab, she studies fear behavior and Pavlovian conditioning to understand the neural mechanisms of fear acquisition and extinction.

Cari Ritzenthaler

Cari Ritzenthaler

Cari is currently studying towards my MSc in ecology at Bowling Green State University. Her research is looking at how available soil nutrients can change the invertebrate community (e.g. millipedes, isopods, etc.) and how actively they participate in decomposition activity. She is especially interested in science communication in the form of writing, art, videos, and podcasts. She writes about my research and other science topics on her blog Ritzen Research

Teodora Stoica Knowing Neurons

Teodora Stoica

Teodora Stoica has worked in neuroscience and psychology research for over five years, contributing to the scientific understanding of the brain at Yale University and University of Maryland, Baltimore.  She hosts her own writing at and is a Science Expert on  She is thrilled to begin graduate school at the University of Louisville in Translational Neuroscience in the fall of 2015.  In her future research, she will investigate the neural correlates of emotion through a multidisciplinary approach and how emotions impact thought and behavior.

Darren Roddy

Darren qualified from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in Medicine and shortly after obtained his memberships in Psychiatry from the Royal College of Psychiatry. After completing an MSc in Neuroscience in Kings College London (with distinction) he returned to clinical/basic science research. He is currently back in Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience investigating how early life events modify the neurobiology of the stress systems. His particular focus is in the neuroimaging changes that occur in with the onset of depression and stress.

Ignacio Amigo

Ignacio graduated in Biochemistry and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology. He is passionate about mitochondria and has studied their role in neurons in health and disease. He writes about Science & Technology for The Canary and is a regular contributor of science blogs such as Mapping Ignorance. He can be followed in Twitter and currently lives in the city of São Paulo, in Brazil.

Sofia Deleniv

Sofia graduated from Oxford University with a BA in Experimental Psychology, before staying on to receive an MSc in Neuroscience.  During her master’s degree, she conducted human EEG research, as well as studied early-postnatal brain development in a mouse model of schizophrenia using in vitro electrophysiology.  Currently, Sofia is pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at Oxford, using in vivo electrophysiology with the goal of shedding some light on the principles underlying information coding in the sensory cortex.  In her spare time, she writes accessible articles on various topics in neuroscience on her blog ‘The Neurosphere‘.

2015 contributors

Jeremy Borniger

Jeremy graduated with honors from Indiana University – Bloomington with a BA in biological anthropology and a minor in medical science.  Following graduation, Jeremy worked as the assistant project director for the Semliki Chimpanzee Project at the Semliki-Toro wildlife reserve in western Uganda.  Jeremy is currently completing his PhD in neuroscience at The Ohio State University.  His research focuses on how cancer and the agents used to treat it (namely, cytotoxic chemotherapeutics) alter sleep and circadian rhythms.  Broadly, his interests include circadian rhythms, sleep, neuroimmunology, and evolution.  Since starting his graduate study in 2012, Jeremy has published six peer reviewed papers and was awarded the OSU Presidental Fellowship and the Pelotonia Graduate Fellowship.  Additionally, Jeremy was selected as a Society for Neuroscience Advocacy Ambassador and received a travel award to present his research at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington DC.  In his spare time, he enjoys writing, playing piano, scuba diving, and cooking.

Colin O’Neal

Colin graduated from Texas State University San Marcos with a B.A. in Psychology where he wrote his honors thesis on a proposed experimental method for measuring  human hippocampal neurogenesis.  He then moved to Houston to work as a middle and high school science teacher in low income schools, and later as a curriculum developer for STEMscopes, an award-winning, national digital curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  Colin has an M.S. in Neuroscience and Education from Columbia University Teachers College and currently works as an instructional coach for the YES Prep Public Schools in Houston where he trains and develops new teachers in low income schools.  While not a laboratory researcher, he is passionate about leveraging cognitive and behavioral neuroscience research to improve the quality of classroom instruction, and overall K-12 school systems.

Konstantin Bakhurin

Konstantin Bakhurin

Konstantin received his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Michigan, where he conducted research on tendon cellular physiology.  After realizing that his training could be used to study the brain, Konstantin narrowed his focus to neuroscience.  In 2011, he began his graduate training in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program at UCLA and currently works under Dr. Sotiris Masmanidis in the department of Neurobiology.  His thesis focuses on utilizing novel recording technology to study how networks of brain cells store information and influence behavior. 

Kathy Myers

Kathy began her foray into neuroscience as a Master’s student at Columbia University, studying the role of protein degradation in neurodegeneration.  Currently a doctoral student at UCLA, Kathy uses imaging and electrophysiological techniques to study how neurons regulate neurotransmitter release on a rapid time scale, with an emphasis on understanding how exposure to environmental toxins can contribute to neuronal dysfunction.  Kathy plays an active role in graduate student affairs as a member of UCLA’s Biological Sciences Council and is passionate about science advocacy and outreach through outlets like AAAS and various on-campus STEM activities.

2014 contributors

Laura Knogler

Laura D. Knogler

Laura made her first recording of neural activity in crayfish and lobsters as an undergraduate at the University of Victoria in 2006. Since this time she has worked as a research assistant studying the frog neuromuscular junction, completed a M.Sc. in Neuroscience at McGill University investigating homeostatic plasticity, and spent several months rock climbing in the Middle East and Africa. Laura is currently finishing up her Ph.D. with Dr. Pierre Drapeau at the University of Montreal where she has been studying the development and organization of spinal circuits in the embryonic zebrafish. She will be starting a post-doc at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich with Dr. Ruben Portugues this spring where she will explore sensorimotor circuits in the zebrafish with whole-brain calcium imaging.

Leena A Ibrahim

Leena A. Ibrahim

Leena Ali Ibrahim graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India with a Master’s degree in Life Sciences. She is currently a neuroscience graduate student at the University of Southern California. She studies auditory-visual interactions in the mouse visual cortex V1. Her future research interests include exploring how different brain regions develop and achieve their specific functions.

Mona Sobhani

Mona Sobhani

Mona graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2006 with a B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience.  In 2013, she completed her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, where she studied the relationship between psychopathic traits and a fronto-amygdala neural circuit in a community population.  During graduate school, she became interested in the legal implications of neuroscientific findings.  She is currently working as a Law and Neuroscience post-doctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University.

RAZ Rebecca A. Zarate

RAZ: Rebecca A. Zarate

After Raz graduated with a BS in Biology and Psychology then an MA in Clinical Psychology, one night she asked, “What is consciousness?”  And the search continues.  Currently, she works as an ABA therapist with children on the autism spectrum and is an adjunct lecturer for a small university geared towards military veterans. In her spare time she is a researcher on the cusp of initiating a collaborative research project with the Dell Children’s Hospital and the University of Texas at Austin.  She is working towards elucidating the causes and functions of self-stimulatory behaviors in children with autism by melding applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and computational neuroscience techniques (EEG).  In her extra spare time she maintains a website fusing science and art,, @Ms_RAZarate

Ryan T Jones Knowing Neurons

Ryan T. Jones

Ryan received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from UCLA in 2014. His dissertation research focused on investigating the neural mechanisms of acquired epilepsies and pathological neural network reorganization. More broadly, Ryan is interested in the emergent properties of neural microcircuits, which allow for high level neural computation, behavior, learning and consciousness. Ryan is now a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF and is studying genetic mechanisms of synaptic homeostasis. In his (rare) free time, Ryan enjoys photography, cooking, mountain biking and backpacking.

Lexie Thorpe

Lexie Thorpe

Lexie developed an interest in neuroscience whilst studying for her BSc in Psychology at Durham University, England, which she completed in 2013.  Currently working as a Psychology Research Assistant in the Health Service, Lexie will begin a Master’s programme at the same University in the autumn, and hopes to combine her research interests in Psychopathology with her fascination with cognitive neuroscience.

Ray Xiong Knowing Neurons

Xiaorui “Ray” Xiong

Ray started reading neuroscience books in his College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China. Fascinated by learning and memory research, Ray joined a lab studying how different drugs affect learning and memory in the hippocampus. His continued passion for neuroscience brought him to the Neuroscience PhD program at the University of Southern California in 2008, where he is working to dissect the brain circuits of hearing, with the hope of understanding his love of eclectic music at a higher level. He loves to travel and take photos.

Ciara Martin

Ciara Martin

Ciara Martin is a 2006 graduate of the University of California, Davis,where she received her B.S. in Environmental Toxicology.  After graduating, Ciara worked for two years at UC Davis as an Air Quality technician, helping to monitor visibility in national parks and protected areas.  Ciara joined the Interdepartmental Molecular Toxicology Ph.D. program at UCLA 2009 and after her first year of rotations joined the lab of Dr. David Krantz.  She is currently investigating neurotoxic mechanisms of actions for pesticides linked to higher incidence Parkinson’s disease using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly.  Using live-imaging techniques, her work focuses on how pesticide exposure alters neuronal health and synaptic activity.

Brian Leung

Brian Leung

Brian graduated from Drexel University in 2011 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Biology.  His passion for neuroscience came during his senior year when he started to venture off course from the canonical chemistry courses and took classes in neurobiology and systems neuroscience.  After graduation, he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician, Lab Technician and AP Bio/Chemistry tutor.  He is now working on his graduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, where he studies the co-dependent role of the immune and central nervous system in Alzheimer’s disease.

Nick Goeden

Nick Goeden

Nick received his B.S. in Biology from Caltech in 2009, after which he joined Pat Levitt’s lab at the University of Southern California as technical staff to work on the development of the Ex-Vivo Placental Perfusion System with Dr. Alexandre Bonnin.  In 2012, he joined Dr. Bonnin’s newly founded laboratory as a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at USC, pursuing a PhD.  His current research investigates the role of the placenta in the developmental programming of mental disorders.  Through the use of their novel perfusion system, he investigates how disruption of tryptophan metabolic flux through the placenta modulates neurodevelopment in the fetus, and ultimately contributes to the onset of mental disorders in the offspring.

Ryan Kast

Ryan earned his B.A. in Biology from the University of San Diego in 2011.  His earliest research focused on the evolution and development of the nematode nervous system.  Since finishing his bachelor’s degree, Ryan has studied a wide range of neuroscience topics including the molecular mechanisms of Huntington’s Disease, recovery from spinal cord injury, experience-dependent plasticity, and the transcriptional regulation of neurodevelopmental disorder risk genes.  His primary scientific interests include mammalian forebrain development and evolution, and the molecular underpinnings of psychiatric disorders.

Shelly Fan

Shelly Fan

Shelly Xuelai Fan is a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, where she studies protein degradation in neurodegenerative diseases.  She also has a special interest in adult neurogenesis.  She is an aspiring science writer with an insatiable obsession with the brain.  She mulls over neuroscience, microbiomes and nutrition over at Neurorexia (  Follow on twitter @ShellyFan.

Don A. Davies

Don graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a BA in Psychology examining learning and memory in humans.  After graduating with a psychology degree, he wanted to examine the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory.  He joined a physiology laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan for his graduate degree, where he examines how learning and memory is enhanced or disrupted with pharmacology in rats.

2013 contributors

Steven Walston

Steven Walston

Steven’s interest in the visual system and neuroscience in general stems from his time in high school exploring optical illusions and his realization of our visual field’s “blind spots.”  He fostered this interest by joining visual neuroscience research labs during is time at Vanderbilt University, from which he earned a B.E. in Biomedical Engineering in 2010.  Later that year, he enrolled in the Biomedical Engineering PhD program at the University of Southern California where he is currently investigating retinal stimulation strategies that may help improve the performance of retinal prostheses.

Sushmitha Gururaj Knowing Neurons

Sushmitha Gururaj

Sushmitha’s first stint with Neuroscience was as a Biotechnology undergraduate at the B.M.S College of Engineering, Bangalore, attempting to identify novel biomarkers for Autism. Hooked to the wondrous workings of the brain since the time, she has successfully completed a Masters in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at USC, where her project focused on the purinergic P2X7 receptor as a mediator of ethanol-induced neuroinflammation in mice models of acute and chronic ethanol abuse. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at SUNY at Buffalo, studying the regulation of sodium-activated potassium channels in the dorsal root ganglion and their role in neuropathic pain using animal models.

Michael C. Condro

Michael Condro became interested in neuroscience when taking neurobiology and behavior courses in at Cornell University, where he received his BS in 2005. He joined the Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology Ph.D. program at UCLA, and recently received his doctorate. His graduate work related to the neurogenetic basis of learned vocalizations in zebra finches and how it relates to human speech. His research focused on the expression of an autism susceptibility gene in the songbird brain.

Steven J Mahon

Steven J. Mahon

Steven graduated Southern Illinois University in 2007 with a BS in biological sciences.  During that time he was involved in neuroscience research under the guidance of Dr. Peter Patrylo and helped study the effects of cortical malformations in epilepsy and alterations in neuronal networks during the aging process.  Steven then went on to medical school at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and graduated in 2011.  He is currently in his 3rd year as an Emergency Medicine resident and can be found working in the emergency departments throughout the Chicagoland area and northern Indiana.

Eliza Bacon

Eliza received her B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Riverside in 2009. It was not until her last quarter before graduating, did she became fascinated with neuroscience. After graduating, Eliza began working at Zymo Research as a research associate in Irvine, California where she fell in love with the new and exciting field of epigenetics. Now, Eliza is pursuing her graduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, where she studies the epigenetic and pathological basis for age-related changes in the response to estrogen in the developing and injured brain.

Navya S. Davuluri

Navya graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) with a BS in Bioinformatics. After graduating from UCSC, she spent a year at NASA Ames research center developing tools to predict structures of novel proteins that could be utilized in developing biofuels. Her fascination with the visual system began with a summer research program at University of California in a lab working on developing a retinal prosthesis. She joined the Biomedical Engineering graduate program at University of Southern California in the fall of 2008. She currently works addressing clinical issues faced by retinal prosthesis patients and on improving the efficiency of the prosthesis.

Juan Velasquez

Juan comes from the University of San Diego, where a summer research experience transformed and further defined his lofty aspirations of impacting human health and quality of life.  Before graduating in 2010, he focused on molecular genetic studies of genes essential for nervous system development in C. elegans.  Juan continued his newfound passion for research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where he worked in the design and production of viruses at the Gene Transfer Targeting and Therapeutics Core.  He joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Southern California in 2011.  He currently studies maternal-fetal interactions, the effects of antidepressant drug use during pregnancy on fetal brain development and physiology, as well as finding new ways to make these drugs safer for both mother and fetus.

2012 contributors

Sungshin Kim

Sungshin Kim

Sungshin graduated from Seoul National University in Korea with BS degrees of chemical and electrical engineering.  After earning a MS and PhD degrees from Duke University and University of Southern California and visiting scholar at ATR in Japan and Max Planck Institute in Germany, he joined University of Chicago as a postdoctoral scholar this year.  His research interest is broad, including motor control & learning, model-based fMRI, machine learning, reinforcement learning, robotics, and brain-machine interface (BMI).  In U of Chicago, he is leading a project with Dr. Sliman Bensmaia, developing sensory neuroprosthesis for more advanced BMI.  In his leisure time, he enjoys playing the piano as a big fan of Chopin, commenting Korean politics and talking about Christianity.