Knowing Neurons

The Team

The core team of Knowing Neurons comprises a group of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, who specialize in different areas of neuroscience.  We discuss and edit all content on the site, write our own articles, and apply our diverse scientific interests and expertise to making Knowing Neurons an effective educational resource about all things brain!

Click on a profile picture to see all posts by that team member!

Carolyn Amir headshot

Carolyn Amir, Chief Executive Officer

Carolyn Amir is a Neuroscience PhD student at UCLA in Dr. Carrie Bearden's lab. Her current research focuses on using neuroimaging and genetics approaches to study the human brain and behavior in psychiatric and developmental disorders. Before coming to UCLA, Carolyn worked at the National Institutes of Health where she studied human pain, medication use and expectancy. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Boston University in Psychological and Brain Sciences, where she used EEG and brain stimulation to examine the effects of neuromodulation in both healthy and patient populations. When she's not in the lab, Carolyn enjoys camping, hiking, and spending time at the beach. To read more about Carolyn's research and contact visit her website.



Zoë Dobler, Editor-in-Chief

Zoë Dobler is a Neuroscience PhD candidate at UCLA. In her research, she applies in vivo 2-photon imaging techniques to study the neural circuits involved in processing sensory stimuli. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she completed a Fulbright scholarship in Vienna, Austria, investigating the genetic mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders. Outside of research, she loves learning languages, reading, and exploring new places. Zoë received her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in French from West Virginia University.

Illustration Team

Sneha Chaturvedi, Head of Illustration

Sneha Chaturvedi is a MD-PhD student at Washington University School in Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Her research focuses on sex differences in neurodevelopment, including work on autism spectrum condition. Sneha is also a part of the American Medical Women’s Association where she leads a team of volunteers to create content on sex and gender differences in various medical conditions. In her personal time, she enjoys painting murals, watching scary movies with friends, and taking her dogs to the dog park. For more about Sneha’s research and other interests, visit her profile.

Sumana Shrestha, Contributing Editor

Sumana Shrestha, Neurocomic Lead

Sumana Shrestha is a PhD student at the Institute of Cancer Research, London. She currently studies the childhood brain tumour “Medulloblastoma”, and during her PhD, she hopes to create a more robust and comparable disease model for this cancer type. She is super excited about her project in which she will be using novel stem cells to develop a cerebellar organoid system amongst other in vitro/in vivo systems. Out of work, she loves teaching science to students, and exploring all the amazing restaurants in London! For more about Sumana's research and experience, please visit her full profile.

Gil Torten, Content Illustrator and Infographic Lead

Gil Torten is currently in his 4th year of his Ph.D. at UCLA. His research is particularly interested in vision, specifically in the maintenance and function of the rod photoreceptor cell in the retina, with a focus on utilizing new technology in microscopy to better understand this complex cell. While Gil spends a bit too much time in the lab, he is also passionate about art and has been working with clay in some capacity for over 15 years - see his work on his Instagram: @tortenceramics. In the future, Gil hopes to utilize his training in science communication to get the newest scientific information to the right people!

Kayla Lim, Content Illustrator

Kayla Lim is currently pursuing a PhD in Physiology at UCLA, where her research is focused on investigating the neural circuits underlying affiliative social behaviors. Before discovering her interest in neuroscience, Kayla went to a specialized arts high school training to be a professional dancer. In a turn of events, she went on to receive Bachelors degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology. She believes that art and science are a lot more similar than others let on, and continues to find creativity in both. Outside the lab, Kayla enjoys getting others excited about science and occasionally spends too much time testing out new recipes.

Melis Cakar, Content Illustrator

Melis Cakar is currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at UCLA. She received her BA in Neuroscience, with a minor in French, from Pomona College. Her research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie sensory over-responsivity in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Melis is interested in bridging ASD research in humans and animal models to provide insight into the etiology of the disorder. Outside of research, Melis spends her time singing, trying out new recipes and reading.

Federica Raguseo, Content Illustrator

Federica is in her third year of PhD at Imperial College London. Her work focuses on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), the two most common types of dementia in people above 65. Both diseases are characterized by the presence of pathological aggregates that affect neurological functions. Her aim is to understand the mechanism of formation of such aggregates, hopefully aiding in the development of a new drug target! Outside the lab, she loves being involved in science communication projects with younger audiences and drawing science related content for the media.

Eleonora Bano, Content Illustrator

Eleonora Bano is a 2nd-year PhD student in the Neuroscience program at Washington University In St. Louis. She’s working in a coo-mentorship between the Tavoni and Kepecs labs with the goal of using optical techniques such as 2 photon calcium imaging, optogenetics, and fiber photometry to create computational models of the processes underlying hallucinations and memory formation in mice. She is also actively involved in organizing moments of scientific exchange in the scientific and non-scientific community. Whenever she is not in lab you can find her on a climbing wall, on the tennis courts or skating around the park.

Vidya Saravanapandian, Content Illustrator

Vidya Saravanapandian graduated with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA and an M.S in Biotechnology from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Peyman Golshani at UCLA. Vidya is passionate about studying brain development and exploring ways to understand and treat neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Her research investigates changes in sleep physiology in NDDs and how these changes may contribute to poor cognitive and developmental outcomes, and bridges clinical research and research in animal models to understand NDDs. Outside of research, Vidya serves as a neuroscience outreach coordinator and has been closely working with the LAUSD schools to bring neuroscience education and awareness to K-12 children in low-income/low-opportunity communities around the Los Angeles neighborhoods. In her free time, Vidya loves baking and exploring new hiking trails.

Yang-Sun Hwang, Content Illustrator

Yang-Sun Hwang started her Neuroscience PhD program at UCSF in 2022. She was first driven into neuroscience by the question, ‘how do collections of cells give rise to unique individuals?’ During her undergraduate studies in microbiology, this question inspired her to start a master’s thesis in systems neuroscience at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. There, she uncovered the role of the neuropeptide somatostatin in visual processing. In her Ph.D. program, she is interested in how environmental factors shape neural circuits, learning, and memory, which will eventually cast light on attenuating neuropsychiatric or neurodegenerative disorders. Outside the lab, she is a huge fan of video games, loves trying new places, foods, and outdoor activities, as well as running and drawing.

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Nadia PenkoffLidbeck, Content Illustrator

Nadia PenkoffLidbeck is a research technician at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Dr. Wolfram Goessling, studying the impact of macrophages on liver and gut disease and development in zebrafish. They received their BA in Neuroscience from Smith College in 2022, where they completed a thesis with high honors in Sonic Hedgehog signaling, commissure formation, and Neural Crest Cell migration in the brain. They continue to be interested in brain development. Outside of the lab, you can find them knitting, drawing, baking, and spending time with their dog, Goose. 

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Johanna Mayer, Content Illustrator

Johanna Mayer is a PhD student at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden working on autophagy-mediated secretory mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease. Her PhD project is part of the EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie innovative training network SAND exploring secretion, autophagy, and the role in neurodegeneration. Johanna received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Jena, Germany. Outside the lab she enjoys experimenting with sourdough and being outdoors on a hiking or camping trip.

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Divi Bhaireddy, Content Illustrator

Divi is a high school student entering her Junior year. She always found an interest in science and art, and loves to find ways to bridge the two. In her free time, you can catch her reading, crafting, and spending lots of time outside with her friends.

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Aishwaria Maxwell, Content Illustrator

Aishwaria Maxwell is currently pursuing an MSc at the University of Toronto, where she is researching the connection between sleep deprivation and dementia. Outside of her research, she loves reading, hiking, and doodling.

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Katie Cooke, Content Illustrator

Katie is starting her junior year of her bachelor's in Neuroscience at Belmont University. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology or Behavioral Neuroscience. Currently, she works in a lab at Vanderbilt studying therapeutic treatments for Rett Syndrome. Katie is passionate about using scientific data for advocacy.

Maria's Headshot

Maria Vogel, Content Illustrator

Maria is a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies how neurons and astrocytes influence each other in regulating degradative pathways. She is passionate about the intersection of art and science, in particular how artistic and creative expression can enhance science communication and education. In her free time, she likes to doodle surreal cell biology inspired art, plays video games, and sitting on her porch sipping tea.

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Kaitlyn Niznik, Content Illustrator

Kaitlyn Niznik holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as a BFA in Painting and BS in Visual Art Education from the State University of New York at New Paltz.  She holds her NYS certification in Arts Education for grades K-12 and is currently in her 6th year as a middle and high school art teacher.  Kaitlyn suffers from a chronic illness and uses her free time to dance, try out new recipes, and spread awareness for lesser-known diseases.

Outreach and Translation Team

Alba Peris-Yagüe, Head of Outreach and Translation

Alba is a PhD student at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid / Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She researches how salience, such as emotion, influences human episodic memory as well as how gist and detail modulate it. In order to do so, she uses several techniques such as behavioral testing and intracranial electrophysiology and is planning on expanding her work to functional magnetic resonance imaging. Previous to her PhD, Alba obtained her MSc in Neuroscience at King's College London where she investigated the effects of antipsychotics on GABA-A receptors as well as she worked on the characterization of a neuroinflammatory protein in preclinical models of neuroinflammation. When she is not doing science, Alba loves to read books, go for long walks while listening to music and going out with friends. If you're interested in Alba's work, visit her full profile here.

Brenda Leyva Garcia, Translator

Brenda Leyva received her Bachelor's Degree in Neuroscience and Chemistry from Smith College. She is currently working as a Research Associate for the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. Her research is focused on helping to develop viral vectors to target and manipulate circuits of GABAergic neurons in the cortex. Specifically, she is interested in the potential of these viral vectors to be used in gene therapy, using AAV-driven gene expression to target neuronal populations that are related to diseases such as autism and epilepsy. Her goal is to join an MD/PhD program in the fall of 2024, to join her passions of neuroscience and research with her desire to help diversify the medicine field and advocate for the Hispanic community in the US. When not in the lab, Brenda enjoys reading, drawing, and teaching. See her full profile here (

Francesca Canturi, Translator

Francesca is pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at University of Parma (Italy), in the lab of Dr. Vera Ferrari. She currently studies the habituation of the attentional interference prompted by emotional distractors. Her dissertation project aims to investigate whether the distractor suppression may be modulated by  learning mechanisms, such as sustained practice, and contextual factors that affect environment predictability. In order to study that, she measures electrophysiological (ERP, alpha-ERD) and behavioral (reaction time) responses while participants are engaged in a main task. Francesca is also interested in studying how picture details and retrieval modulate human memory for natural scenes. Francesca obtained her MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Parma in 2019.

Diana Rejon, Translator

Diana Rejon is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. She is passionate about public health and plans to utilize her bilingual skills as a future oncologist to advocate for accessible care in underserved communities. Her background as a first-generation student has motivated her to continue pursuing higher education and embracing her cultural roots.

Carolin Haag Headshot

Carolin Haag, German Translator

Carolin is a PhD student at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen, Germany. During her Master's studies in Heidelberg, Carolin became passionate about neuroscience research. In her master's thesis she got familiar with working on iPSC-derived neurons from bipolar patients. Excited by the fact that one can study pathological mechanisms on patient-specific neurons, she continued the work with iPSCs in her PhD project. In this project, she studies iPSC-derived neurons of patients suffering from genetic epilepsy, mainly using electrophysiological methods. In her free time she enjoys knitting and all kind of sports, like running or skiing.

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Natalia Padillo-Anthemides, Translator

Natalia is a 2nd year genetics and genomics PhD student at the University of Florida.  She is working with evolutionary bioinformatician, Dr. Joseph Ryan, focusing on the genomics of neurons in ctenophores (comb jellyfish), in order to better understand the evolution of nervous system in animals.  As she transitioned to her current field from a background in marine science (B.S in marine biology), she has gained an appreciation for bridging together seemingly disparate science topics and trying as best as possible to communicate these effectively to the public.  She has joined the Outreach and Translation team to make these fascinating neuroscience topics more accessible and useful for a broader audience.  In her freetime, Natalia enjoys surfing, scuba diving, and reading classical literature.
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Lisa-Sophie Wüstner, German Translator

After her masters in Neurobiology, Lisa pursued a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at the NMI at the University of Tübingen, Germany. Currently in her third year, she investigates potential mechanisms responsible for synaptic changes in neurons which occur in stress-related diseases such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. She loves communicating science and arising awareness to mental health & disease by explaining the underlying physiology to make the topic more graspable. Other than that, she’s in love with cats and plants and every now and then you can find her singing in the streets.

LanVi Nguyen, German Translator

LanVi is a doctoral candidate at the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin, where she models spinal muscular atrophy with neuromuscular organoids and complex 2D cultures. Since her studies in biotechnology, Lan Vi is interested in neuroscience particularly in brain development and neurodegenerative disorders.  Human pluripotent stem cell-derived brain and neuromuscular organoids are her expertise. In her leisure time she likes to explore new food spots, travels or reads novels.

Irem Asci, Turkish Translator

Irem Asci is currently a 3rd year medical student at Liberty University. She received her BS in Biomedical Engineering and MS in Neuroscience from Temple University. Her research for her master’s degree focused on neurophysiological changes in prefrontal-parietal coupling in 3xTg rodent model for detection of early markers of Alzheimer’s Disease. Outside of the hospital, she likes following formula 1 racing, cooking and spending quality time with friends.

Maria Paula, Translator

Maria Paula is a physician from Colombia. She is currently working at Cedars-Sinai in the Neurovascular Gonzalez lab, where they do research on stroke.

Greta Sandow, German Translator

Greta is a student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where she is currently pursuing a master's degree in cognitive neuroscience. She is interested in cognitive function in extreme and isolated environments, such as Antarctica and long-duration space flight. Next to her studies, she enjoys anything that combines her interests in neuroscience with her creativity, such as writing for her university's blog.

Editing Team

Liza Chartampila, Senior Editor

Liza Chartampila is a second-year PhD student in the Neuroscience program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her current research focuses on understanding the role of sleep in development and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and schizophrenia. Before beginning her doctoral studies at UNC, Liza completed her B.S. in neuroscience at Washington and Lee University and worked as a research assistant at New York University. Outside of research, she enjoys painting, hiking, reading, listening to podcasts, and playing sports (especially volleyball).

Lauren Wagner, Contributing Editor

Lauren Wagner is a PhD candidate studying 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 discover the secrets of the brain's critical and sensitive periods for language-learning. Outside of the lab, Lauren is passionate about science policy and communication. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Science Policy & Governance, and as a Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Ambassador. She is also an active member of the National Science Policy Network, where she enjoys learning about issues in science policy and diplomacy. In her free time, Lauren 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.

Caitlin Goodpaster, Contributing Editor

Caitlin earned her Bachelor’s degree at The Ohio State University before joining the Neuroscience Interdepartmental PhD Program at UCLA. In the lab of Dr. Laura DeNardo, she studies how early life stress alters prefrontal circuitry involved in avoidance behavior during adolescence. She is passionate about understanding how early experiences can lead to the development of aberrant behaviors and is motivated to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Outside the lab you can catch her on a hike, reading a good book or baking.

Rebeka Popovic

Rebeka Popovic, Contributing Editor

Rebeka is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. Her current research explores molecular mechanisms driving Parkinson’s disease using the fruit fly as a model organism. She received her MSc in Neuroscience from King’s College London, specialising in neurodegeneration research. Outside the lab, she enjoys bouldering and listening to music. For more about Rebeka’s research and experience, please visit her full profile.

Chris Gabriel, Contributing Editor

Chris is a doctoral candidate in neuroscience at UCLA and previously received a BS in Human Biology and a BA in Psychology from North Carolina State University. He is interested in understanding prefrontal control of defensive behaviors and links to fear- and anxiety-related disease. Chris combines UCLA Miniscopes and advanced computational techniques to link neural activity directly to behavior. Outside the lab, Chris enjoys camping, rock climbing, playing music, and traveling as often as possible.

Justin McMahon, Contributing Editor

Justin McMahon is a neuroscience PhD student at Harvard University. He is primarily interested in understanding the complex genetic makeup of neuropsychiatric disorders and translating this knowledge into a clinical application. Before beginning his PhD, he worked in research labs studying the neurobiology of Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, memory, and neuropsychiatric disorders. Justin also has experience investigating gene regulatory networks, developing virus-based neuroscience tools, and coordinating projects to investigate and diversify genetic datasets of populations with psychiatric illnesses across the globe. Outside the lab, you can find Justin listening to music/podcasts, taking pictures, boxing, or appreciating a good coffee bean.

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Amy Than, Contributing Editor

Amy Than is a Neuroscience PhD student at UCLA in the lab of Dr. Shulamite Green, using neuroimaging to study the neural mechanisms underlying sensory over-responsivity in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is fascinated with how the brain perceives and interacts with the world. Prior to UCLA, she was involved in tobacco cessation research at the California Smokers' Helpline and drug addiction research at the Scripps Research Institute. Her passion for neuroscience is paired with a dedication to supporting underrepresented scholars through equity-minded mentorship and educational access efforts. In her free time, Amy enjoys making travel vlogs, matcha lattes, and quality time with her family.

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Shiri Spitz Siddiqi, Contributing Editor

Shiri Spitz Siddiqi is a PhD student at the University of California, Irvine, working with Dr. Pete Ditto and Dr. Pia Dietze. Her research focuses on "culture war" issues (for example, cultural appropriation, diversity, and free speech), both in terms of how people make judgments about them and in terms of their consequences for democracy. An avid collaborator, Shiri is also an affiliate with the Center for the Science of Moral Understanding. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, listening to podcasts, playing the cello, and hanging out with her cat, Scout. Shiri received her BS in Psychology and BA in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Before beginning her PhD program, she managed the EEG Lab in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Colgate University. You can view her full profile here.

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Honoreé Brewton, Contributing Editor

Honoreé Brewton received her PhD in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she studied the neural mechanisms involved in alcohol use disorder. She previously received her B.S. in psychology from Howard University and completed some postbaccalaureate work at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She enjoys all things neuroscience and strives to share her knowledge--as well as the work of other scientists--with the broader community. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading graphic novels/comics, boxing, and taking in the outdoors. You can find her on LinkedIn (

Johanna Popp, Outreach and Translation Team and Contributing Editor

Johanna Popp is currently a 2nd year PhD student at Würzburg University in Germany. She received a BSc in Neuroscience and a MSc in Multidisciplinary Biomedical Science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In her dissertation research, she uses brain imaging and network neuroscience techniques to understand the relationship between brain structure, brain function and individual differences in general cognitive ability. In her free time, she plays soccer on a semi-professional team, loves to go on runs and enjoys spending time with friends and family.
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Rachel Gilfarb, Contributing Editor

Rachel Gilfarb is a PhD candidate studying Neuroscience at The Ohio State University, where she studies the way that female-biased experiences (like pregnancy and hormonal contraceptive use) affect the brain and behavior. Outside of the lab, Rachel is involved with the National Science Policy Network and the Society for Neuroscience, where she engages in science policy and equity work. For fun, Rachel loves exploring Columbus, thrifting, and doing art projects. Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and a minor in Women's and Gender Studies from Vanderbilt University in 2018.
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Julia LaValley, Contributing Editor

Julia is a PhD student in the Neuroscience and Behavior program at UMass Amherst. Her research involves using florescent imaging paired with immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization to investigate the neural centers responsible for sensory processing and motor control in invertebrate mollusks. In addition to her research, she is also active in the science policy and science communication fields. Outside of work, Julia enjoys going for hikes with her dogs, reading sci-fi, and trying new recipes. For more information, please visit her profile. (

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Gabrielle Sarlo, Contributing Editor

Gabrielle Sarlo is a postdoctoral research fellow at Children's National Hospital in Washington DC, where she is currently learning about neuropsychology and neuroimaging in pediatric epilepsy. She received her PhD in Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience from American University. Her research interests include nutritional neuroscience, epilepsy and its co-occurring conditions, and glutamatergic neurotransmission. Aside from her work, Gabrielle loves enjoying nature and spontaneous road trips.

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Keionna Newton, Contributing Editor

Keionna is currently pursuing her PhD in Neuroscience in the lab of Dr. Lindsay De Biase at UCLA. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2021 where she used mouse models to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of stress, pain, and addiction, with particular focus on kappa opioid receptors. Now at UCLA, Keionna’s research is focused on understanding how microglia modulate dopamine neuron circuitry in health and disease. Outside of the lab, Keionna enjoys hiking, backpacking, painting, reading books, and playing her guitar.

Sarah Wade, Contributing Editor

Sarah Wade is pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in the lab of Dr. Anna Molofsky at UCSF. Her research focuses on neuron-microglia interactions in health and disease. Sarah graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Neuroscience. Outside of science, Sarah enjoys doing triathlons, loving her plants to death, and brewing kombucha.

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Paige Nicklas, Contributing Editor

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.

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Dhruv Mehrotra, Contributing Editor

Dhruv is a PhD candidate at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He uses computational tools to investigate brain dynamics in rodent electrophysiological data during sleep. His area of focus is the brain’s compass, also known as the head-direction system. He is passionate about mentorship and making science more accessible to the public. Outside work, he enjoys swimming, volleyball, and cooking.

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Alli Lindquist, Contributing Editor

Alli Lindquist is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Her research utilizes an imaging tool called expansion microscopy that physically expands brain tissue, which allows her to look at nanoscale-level changes in the brain.  She is applying this tool to answer neuroscience questions at a synaptic level, such as changes that might occur during learning or disease.  Outside of the lab, Alli can be seen biking, enthusiastically googling about an insect, or writing - including a book of science-themed poetry that she published in 2021!

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Kelly O'Toole, Contributing Editor

Kelly O’Toole is a Neuroscience and Bioengineering PhD student at King’s College London based at The Francis Crick Institute. During her PhD, she has generated ways of making astrocyte subtypes with different shapes from human stem cells in order to investigate how cell shape influences important astrocyte functions, such as cell-to-cell signalling and injury responses. Previously, she received an MSci in Pharmacology from the University of Manchester, where she studied the impact of obesity on long-term stroke outcomes, and she has also researched the effects of ketamine on human microglial responses. Outside of the lab, Kelly is listening to live music - whether at a pub, gig or festival – burying her head in a book, or caring for one of her many animals! To read more about Kelly’s research, science communication or public outreach activities, visit her full profile here:

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Mary Rudd, Contributing Editor

Mary is a third-year neuroscience and marine biology student at UAB. She is a part of the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Program in Multidisciplinary Biomedical Sciences at UAB. She is currently researching sex differences in emotional memory, creating a circuit map of the lateral septum, and comparing neuronal activation between sexes and hormone states. Her passion lies in women’s health, and she plans to pursue an MD-PhD to understand sex-specific mechanisms of disease.

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Laura Cho, Contributing Editor

Laura Cho is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, studying psychology and molecular & cellular biology. She writes computational models to characterize selective neuronal vulnerability in different neuropsychiatric disorders using single-cell RNA sequencing profiles. She is also interested in the long-term effects of opioids and opioid-induced hypoxia on the brain, likewise hoping to help widen community access to opioid overdose reversal medication. In her free time, she enjoys running, coding, solving sudoku puzzles, and trying to cook.

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Darsol Seok, Contributing Editor

Darsol is a Neuroscience PhD student at UCLA. His research focuses on the use of smartphone and wearable technology to infer subjective states and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. To do so, he uses a variety of analytical approaches including machine learning, deep learning and traditional biostatistical methods. Previously, he conducted neuroimaging and decision-making research at the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed his Bachelor's. When he's not in lab, Darsol likes to go on runs, watch movies, check out art museums and attend concerts.

Newsletter Team

Rachel Fox, Newsletter Editor

Rachel Fox is pursuing her PhD in Neuroscience in the lab of Dr. Michael Wells at UCLA. Since graduating from Reed College in 2015, Rachel’s research interests have revolved around the genetic and molecular mechanisms of neurological disorders. She hopes that a better understanding of the mechanisms of brain development and how they go awry can lead to potential therapeutics for affected patients.

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Taylor Castro, Newsletter Editor

Taylor Castro has degrees in Journalism, Public Relations and Neuroscience Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her focus was in neurolinguistics, where she studied the emotional expression differences in native and foreign language processing. With a passion for athletics, she also looks at the long-term impacts that participation in contact sports has on the brain. Taylor currently works as a news anchor and sports reporter for a TV station near her hometown in the Chicago suburbs. She enjoys producing segments that combine science and sports, especially about CTE research in football players. As a woman in both STEM and the sports industry, Taylor mentors young women in middle and high school who want to pursue careers in male-dominated fields.

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Neysa Dechachutinan, Newsletter Editor

Neysa Dechachutinan is an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham studying Neuroscience. She is currently interested in sex-differences in neuroscience research and the ways that cycling of ovarian hormones lead to varied health outcomes. Her current research project investigates estrous cycle regulation of neuronal ensembles encoding threat memory within the central and lateral amygdala. During her free time, she likes shooting film photography, playing video games, and listening to podcasts, like This American Life and TMG.

Social Media Team

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Teel Walters, Head of Social Media

Teel Walters received her Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience from Belmont University. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Alabama at Birmingham studying Behavioral Neuroscience. She is passionate about increasing awareness about affective disorders, addiction, and increasing gender diversity particularly within the sciences. Outside of research, Teel enjoys traveling, playing her violin, hiking, and being involved in outreach opportunities to bring science to individuals from underprivileged backgrounds.

Hoki Fung, Social Media Team

Hoki is a PhD student in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program (NSIDP) at UCLA. Her research combines behavioral experiments, neuroimaging, and computational modeling to study the neural mechanisms underlying reward processing and decision making in healthy and clinical populations. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, M.Res. in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University College London, and M.Comp. in Artificial Intelligence from the National University of Singapore. When she is not busy doing research, she enjoys cafe hopping, playing basketball, and hanging out with friends.

Chris Turner, Social Media Team

Chris is in his second year at UVA on a pre-med track and hoping to major in neuroscience. His curiosity in neuroscience is primarily in behavioral psychology, neurodegenerative conditions, and regenerative medicine. Chris is also considering osteopathic medicine due to his belief in holistic healing and as it relates to the nervous system. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys hiking the Shenandoah, volunteering in the community, and playing lacrosse.

Shriya Varada, Social Media Team

Shriya Varada is a first year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia hoping to major in neuroscience. She plans to pursue either a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience or go to medical school after graduation. Shriya is specifically interested in behavioral neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease, and the study of behavioral disorders and mental illness. Apart from neuroscience, Shriya loves to spend her time reading, listening to music, volunteering at the UVA hospital, and exploring Charlottesville with her friends.

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Saba Eylül Özyurt, Social Media Team

Eylül is an undergrad student at Üsküdar University in Istanbul, Turkey. Her major is Molecular Biology and Genetics, and her minor is Psychology. She is currently working at the Neurochemistry Laboratory of Üsküdar University, focusing on neurodegenerative diseases. She is planning to specialise in the area of Behavioural Neuroscience in the future. She has been working as a Social Media Assistant for over a year now. Her other interests are art and music. She enjoys combining her art and music skills with neuroscience, such as by creating comics and writing fun, educational songs.

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Mahika Saoji, Social Media Team

Mahika Saoji is a third year undergraduate student studying Psychobiology on the premedical track at UCLA. Her research focuses lie in the cardiology and pharmacology fields, specifically in understanding the novel pathways in the intersection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and lipid metabolism that may lead to new treatments of cardiovascular disease and cancer. As a genuine advocate for social change, Mahika channels her passion toward empowering houseless and underserved communities in Los Angeles through her advocacy of the Clean Needle Exchange Program and raising awareness around the risks of substance abuse. Outside of her work, Mahika enjoys playing chess, traveling, volunteering, and curating new recipes.

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Amanda Weiss, Social Media Team

Amanda N. Weiss is a PhD student in the Cell and Molecular Biology program at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on alternative mRNA splicing in neuronal differentiation. She received her B.S. degree in Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2019, where she conducted viral genetics research. Outside of lab, Amanda is the Science Communication Chair for the Penn Science Policy and Diplomacy Group, and she enjoys blog writing and playing tabletop games.

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Katie Thompson, Social Media Team

Katie Thompson is a Neuroscience PhD student at Michigan State University, where she is investigating obesity through the use of chemogenetic and optogenetic techniques in a mouse model. Specifically, her focus is on discrete neural populations within the lateral hypothalamic area and their contribution to energy balance, behavior, and physiology. Before pursuing her PhD, Katie completed a post-baccalaureate at Michigan State University in Biochemistry using cell culture to understand the transcriptional regulation of the insulin signaling pathway. She obtained her bachelor’s degree at Lake Superior State University in Biochemistry. Outside of academia, Katie enjoys socializing, figure skating, and cuddling with her dogs.

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Jeyashree Alagarsamy, Social Media Team

Jey completed her Master's degrees in Biological Sciences from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is currently doing her Ph.D at the University of Cincinnati, where her research is focused on investigating repair mechanisms associated with Multiple Sclerosis. Jey is also actively involved as a Proteintech ambassador, dedicated to promoting educational initiatives and contributing to content writing. Beyond her scientific pursuits, she enjoys spending quality time with her family, listening to music, cooking and actively engages in outreach activities aimed at making science accessible to underrepresented communities.


Serena Nicholas, Social Media Team

Serena Nicholas is currently pursuing a M.S. at Parker University studying clinical neuroscience. She graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. in Biology, with a specialization in neuroscience, physiology, and behavior, complemented by a minor in general chemistry. She currently works in neurofeedback - focusing on deciphering and optimizing neural patterns and electrical activity in the brain - to address specific neural dysregulations, foster neuroplasticity and promote more efficient communication within the neural networks that govern our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Beyond her work and studies, Serena enjoys reading, traveling, going to concerts and spending time with her dog, Nash.

Fundraising Team

Anastasiia Gryshyna Headshot

Anastasiia Gryshyna, Head of Fundraising

Anastasiia Gryshyna is a doctoral student in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She received her master’s degree in nanotechnology at University of Central Florida and became fascinated with neuroscience and techniques that can be used to study our brain. Her current interests are in basic science and pelvic pain. Anastasiia uses electrophysiology and optogenetics to examine how pain signals travel to the central nervous system and how we can address issues associated with urologic conditions using optogenetics. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, training Jiu jitsu, and spending time with her family.

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Bar Yosef, Fundraising Team

Bar Yosef is a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. She did her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego where she studied Human Biology and Cognitive Science. She has done cognitive neuroscience research on social predictive learning, face processing, and developmental prosopagnosia. In her free time, Bar enjoys spending time in nature.

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Justin Deters, Fundraising Team

Justin Deters is a PhD student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. His research is focused on advanced neuroimaging techniques such as PET, DTI and MRS in neurological disorders. He is using these methods to help evaluate the effects of chronic consumption of medical cannabis products containing different ratios of THC and CBD in people with Multiple Sclerosis. When he is not at work, he is always staying active, whether that is in the gym, the hot yoga studio, or on the treadmill. He also is most likely one of the biggest star wars fans you will ever meet and loves to read.

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Emily Sarkisian, Fundraising Team

Emily is a ScM student at Brown University in the Biotechnology Program. She previously worked in industry, developing therapeutics for individuals diagnosed with ALS and other CNS diseases. Currently, she is studying the role of stress granules in Drosophila ALS models. Outside of the lab, Emily enjoys going for runs, reading, and cheering for her favorite sports teams. She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Education from the University of Rhode Island.

Carmen Moreno-Gonzalez Headshot

Carmen Moreno-Gonzalez, Fundraising Team

Carmen is a PhD student at The Francis Crick Institute where she creates new systems to study how the nervous system forms in the human embryo in health and in disease. For this purpose, she combines the use of human stem cell mini-organs aka organoids and bioengineering which she intends to use in the test of new treatments for neuroblastoma, a type of child cancer. Previous to her PhD, Carmen worked for several years investigating the events that lead to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis using human motoneurons at King’s College London, where she obtained her MSc in Neuroscience in 2018. Outside the lab, you can find Carmen bouldering, at the pub or backpacking around the globe! If you are interested in Carmen’s work, visit her full profile here.

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Jessica Froula, Fundraising Team

Jessica Froula is a Neuroscience PhD student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and she is currently researching the connections between the cerebellum and the hippocampus in mice using multiple different microscopy techniques in combination with optogenetics. She especially loves hearing from others what excites them about their research so she can learn about yet another weird and/or awesome thing the brain does. Outside of the lab, you can find Jessica unwinding with a good tv show or book or taking care of her garden and houseplants. She also loves biking, pet sitting, and learning how to DIY house projects with her husband.

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Lydia Rader, Fundraising Team

Lydia is a PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder studying behavioral genetics & neuroscience. Her current research interests include elucidating the genetic architecture of chronic pain syndromes and their overlaps with brain structure, substance use, and psychopathology. She is passionate about STEM outreach and science communication. Outside of the lab, she loves to read, travel, play piano, and be outside.

Tony Nguyen Headshot

Tony Nguyen, Fundraising Team

Tony Nguyen is an NIH Postbaccalaureate IRTA Fellow at the National Institute on Aging, where he is studying the role of CD8 T cells in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, he has worked in research labs using preclinical animal models, including mice and zebrafish, to study Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and embryonic neurodevelopment. Outside of the lab, you can find Tony listening to music (boygenius supremacy!!), going on nature walks, impulsively buying books, and drawing in his various unfinished sketchbooks.

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Ngoc Phan, Fundraising Team and Analytics Team

Ngoc Phan graduated from the University of Medicine Pham Ngoc Thach with an MBBS. She is passionate about learning and memory, mathematics, and public health. Her purpose is to improve people’s learning abilities and health behavior. She is currently joining a project to apply neuroscience to education for teenagers in Vietnam. Besides, she would like to try neuroinformatics in the future. In her free time, she enjoys reading romantic novels, watching movies, and traveling.

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Adrienne Cooley, Fundraising Team

Adrienne is a 4th year undergraduate student finishing up her bachelor's degree in Neuroscience with minors in chemistry and Spanish. Upon completion of her degree in Spring 2024 she will remain a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the multidisciplinary biomedical sciences master's program with a concentration in genetics. She is excited at the opportunity to be in a student-led environment that facilitates brain education and to work closely with the fundraising team on different outreach projects.

Science Policy Team

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Kathleen Carmichael, Head of Science Policy

Kathleen is a Neuroscience PhD student in the Brown University—National Institutes of Health Graduate Partnerships Program working in the Laboratory of Neurogenetics. She received her BA in Neuroscience from Swarthmore College. Her current research aims to understand the sex-specific role of a subset of neurons preferentially degenerated in Parkinson’s disease. Outside of the lab, Kathleen is passionate about engaging in STEM outreach and education. She is also interested in science policy and the ethical implications arising from advancements in neuroscience. In her free time, Kathleen enjoys visiting museums, going to flea markets, and hanging out with her dog, Dewey.

Nitheyaa Shree Ramesh Profile Photo

Nitheyaa Shree Ramesh, Science Policy Team

Nitheyaa Shree Ramesh is a PhD student at the University of Bristol on the Marshall Scholarship. Her current research focuses on post-translational modifications (PTMs) of mitochondrial proteins such as PINK1, with a specific aim of understanding the role of these PTMs in mitophagy and neurodegeneration. She obtained a BS in Neuroscience from Georgia State University in 2021. Here, as an undergraduate research assistant, she studied the role of activity-regulated cytoskeleton associated protein (Arc) degradation in learning behaviors in the aging brain, as well as the effect of visual experience on inhibitory synapses in the visual pathway. Outside of the lab, Nitheyaa is a semi-professional Carnatic musician who plays six instruments.

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Victoria King, Social Media, Science Policy, and Editing Teams

Tori is a PhD student in Behavioral Neuroscience at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. She works in the lab of Dr. Nina Kraguljac studying pathophysiological biomarkers of first-episode psychosis patients. She uses MRI to map myelin content and neurite density in order to assess neurodevelopmental abnormalities in people with schizophrenia compared to healthy people. Tori received her BS in Psychology with minors in Neuroscience and Spanish from The University of Alabama in 2020. In her free time, Tori loves doing yoga, going to coffee shops, and hanging out with her dogs, Peter and Banks.

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Jen Holmberg, Science Policy

Jen is a Neuroscience Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley studying the effects of psilocybin on visual and semantic brain representations using fMRI and computational models. In their freetime, Jen enjoys hanging out with their cat, going for walks, talking about science, and drawing.

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Emma Courtney, Science Policy

Emma Courtney is pursuing a Ph.D. at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where she studies neuroscience and genomics. She received a B.S. in Social Sciences and a B.S. in Natural Sciences from Minerva University, where she lived in Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Seoul, and San Francisco while studying social sciences, earth sciences, and biochemistry. Outside of her research, she enjoys Irish dancing, being outdoors, and participating in outreach activities.

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Abhigyan Sahoo, Science Policy

Abhigyan Sahoo is completing his high school degree and will be an incoming college freshman in the fall of 2024. He is interested in the field of neuropsychology, schizophrenia, and personality disorders and is currently open to exploring anything in the field of neuroscience. Outside of his research and academic career, he loves to draw Mandala art and try different types of delicious food.

Podcast Team

Chaoqun Yin, Lead Podcast Producer

Chaoqun is currently a PhD student in systems neuroscience at UCLA. His research focuses on perceptual decision making and multisensory integration. Generally speaking, his research deals with how the information is encoded/decoded/transferred between different brain regions, and how the decisions emerge from these processes. When he is not in the lab, Chaoqun is an enthusiastic novel reader and book review writer. Prior to neuroscience, he spent some time developing a book review-based podcast with a friend.

Ayushe Sharma Profile Photo

Ayushe Sharma, Lead Podcast Producer

Ayushe Sharma is a PhD candidate in the Departments of Neurology and Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She uses brain imaging to map brain temperature and study neuroinflammation in patients with seizure disorders. Ayushe’s scientific pursuits outside the lab strive to make science more accessible to the lay public. She leads UAB’s Brain Core journal club, and also organizes the Brain Awareness Week celebrations in Birmingham, Alabama. In her spare time, Ayushe is a mixology enthusiast, vegetable gardener, and hobby artist. For more about Ayushe’s research and experience, please visit her full profile. 

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Daniel Janko, Head of Podcast Dissemination, Contributing Editor, and Newsletter Team

I am a master’s student in cognitive science at the University of Potsdam, Germany. I worked as a research assistant at UAB researching emotional processing in epilepsy patients using sEEG, and also did some work on somatosensory mapping using fMRI. Currently, I am working on a project examining potential behavioral effects of the entorhinal cortex. We hope to find biases in behavior that would correspond to the functional organization of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex. In my free time, I enjoy exercising, playing video games, cooking, traveling, and exploring new cultures (mostly through food).

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Rana El-Danaf, Head of Podcast Scheduling

Rana El-Danaf is currently a Research Scientist at the Centre for Genomics and Systems Biology at New York University, Abu Dhabi campus.  Rana completed her PhD in Neurosciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, and pursued her postdoctoral studies at the University of California San Diego.  She later joined the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University as a Research Scientist. Rana designed and carried out studies aimed to understand visual system development, organization and disease in rodent and non-human primate models.  Currently, she is using the Drosophila Fruit fly as a model organism to understand how neuronal diversity is generated during brain development.  Rana’s interests include science communication and outreach, and she enjoys traveling and learning new languages.

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Jess Laudie, Podcast Producer

Jess Laudie is currently an NIH Postbac IRTA Research Fellow at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, where she studies the neuroscience of alcohol use disorder. Jess is passionate about exploring the intersection of philosophy, science, and well-being through psychopharmacology and contemplative practices. Outside of the lab, she can be found teaching yoga, learning to skateboard, and making matcha. For more info on Jess’s background or to connect over shared interests, please visit her profile.

Bharti Upparu Profile Photo

Bharti Upparu, Podcast Producer

Bharti is an MA Psychology student who aspires to become a cognitive neuroscientist. Her research pursuits are centered around cognition, learning, and attention. Beyond her academic endeavors, Bharti actively champions the cause of open science and advocates for increased inclusion within Indian academia. When she's not immersed in her studies or research, Bharti finds joy in exploring the great outdoors through hiking, listening to geopolitics and crime podcasts and reading.

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Swapnali De, Podcast Producer

Swapnali is a cancer biologist and a science communicator. Currently she is working in a neuroscience Institute under a neurosurgeon as a research assistant and carries out clinical research and data analysis. Outside the lab, she loves reading, singing, traveling, working out and advocating for mental health.

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Preethi Vinnakota, Podcast Producer

Preethi is currently pursuing graduate programs, with a particular interest in neurodegenerative disorders. She completed her undergraduate studies in biology and business. In her free time, she enjoys reading, experimenting with baking, watching films, and being outdoors. For more information please visit her profile, let’s stay connected!

Website Team

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Megan Hall, Chief Website Manager

Megan graduated from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Anthropology in 2022, where she was involved in research in social psychology and well-being. Megan spent one year at the Translational Genomics Research Institute as an Associate Bioinformatician, where she worked on characterizing RNA in biofluids across different neurological disorders. She currently works with magnetoencephalography (MEG) data at the DICoN Lab. For more information about Megan, please visit her website.

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Lupita Valencia, Spanish Website Manager

Lupita Valencia received her BS in Neuroscience and BA in Chicano/a Studies from UCLA. As an undergraduate, her research focused on behavioral neuroscience, specifically how corticolimbic circuits facilitate the decision making process. After completing a PREP Post-Baccalaureate Program at Tufts University, she plans to pivot her career into science communication. Lupita is invested in making science more accessible by overcoming language barriers, especially in the Spanish-speaking community. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking up tasty dishes and curating equally fire playlists.

Marisa Guajardo, Website Team and Editing Team

Marisa is an undergraduate studying neuroscience at the University of Virginia. She is particularly interested in neurodegeneration, the central nervous system, as well as behavioral processes and the relation to anthropology. In the Larson Lab, she is investigating the role of neuronal and astrocyte death in triggering reactive proliferation within the song circuit of Gambel's white-crowned sparrow. She also plans on combining the study of neuroscience with related studies of computer science and artificial intelligence. Outside of these fields, she enjoys playing volleyball, making art, and going to new food spots with friends.

Alvi Khan, Website Team

Alvi is a second-year undergraduate student at Baruch College with a biology major and math minor. He is interested in the hippocampus's role in cognitive dysfunction, such as in neurological and psychiatric disorders including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, and depression. Additionally, Alvi is interested in furthering scientific communication by making science more accessible and digestible to those unfamiliar with it. After undergrad, Alvi plans to attend medical school to become either a neurologist or psychiatrist. In his free time, he reads books and works out at the gym.

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Theodore R Chavez, Website Team

Greetings! While on a transformative journey towards becoming a Medical Doctor (MD) in Los Angeles, California, Theodore is pursuing his studies in Neuroscience with innate curiosity and a hope to make a tangible difference. As Theodore approaches the culmination of his academic journey, he is filled with a sense of anticipation and purpose. Marrying the discipline of Foundational Neuroscience with the practice of medicine humbles and drives Theodore’s passion for Neuroscience. Having faced the reality of losing his father to a stroke, with a niece being diagnosed with epilepsy, Theodore’s aim for solutions with respect to Neuroscience became personal. He is eager to be a part of the Knowing Neuron’s team and make actionable contributions to the field of Neuroscience and research.

Previous Core Team Members

Kate Fehlhaber, Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Kate graduated from Scripps College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience, completing the cellular and molecular track with honors.  As an undergraduate, she studied long-term plasticity in models of Parkinson’s disease in a neurobiology lab at University of California, Los Angeles.  She continued this research as lab manager before entering the University of Southern California in 2011 and then transferring to UCLA in 2013.  She completed her PhD in 2017, where she studied the first synapse of sight.  Listen to her talk about her vision research, science communication, photography, and other hobbies in this recent episode of Forbes podcast "The Limit Does Not Exist."

Huixuan Liang, Contributing Editor and Visual Designer

Huixuan Liang, Contributing Editor and Visual Designer

Huixuan is a postdoc in the Neurology Department at UCLA. Her current research focuses on identifying stem cell-based therapeutic approaches in stroke recovery. Huixuan earned her PhD from North Carolina State University, where she studied the molecular mechanisms regulating neural stem cell function during brain development. As a mentor of 15 students, Huixuan has developed the passion for science communication and she loves to present scientific ideas to diverse audiences. Outside the lab, Huixuan enjoys playing musical instruments (violin and guitar), pop dancing, playing board games, snowboarding and rock-climbing.

Kayleen Schreiber, Contributing Editor and Visual Designer

Kayleen is obsessed with the brain. After majoring in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, she went straight to a PhD program in neuroscience at the University of Iowa. She currently studies how our brains process speech. She measures electrical changes produced by the brain to understand how the gender of a person talking influences how we hear their speech. Outside the lab, she works to get others excited about science and occasionally plays the bassoon.

Miguel Alec Marin, Content Illustrator

Miguel Alec Marin, Content Illustrator

Miguel Alec Marin is a postdoctoral scholar in the department of Neurology at UCLA. His research centers on the exploration of the mechanisms that drive remyelination and neural repair after stroke. More broadly, he is fascinated by the inner life of neurons and glia and the functional interface that exists between them. He discovered his love of neuroscience and cell biology while interning in several laboratories and a psychiatric clinic during his undergraduate studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX. He then went on to complete his doctoral studies at Baylor College of Medicine where he studied axon biology in models of neural degeneration and regeneration. When he isn’t in lab, he is at his drafting table and easel painting and drawing –an interest that arose during his childhood and was developed during his graduate studies. For more on his science and his art, follow him on instagram.

Jooyeun Lee, Senior Graphic Designer

Jooyeun (JL) dreamt about being an artist and yet she is now in her fifth year as a Neuroscience Ph.D. student at USC.  As she studied art in college, it opened up a whole new world beyond her perspective and turned out earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology.  Thereafter, she joined a neuroscience lab at California State University, Northridge, studying wound healing response in diabetic neuropathy as her Master’s thesis project.  Currently, she studies neurological disorders, such as Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, using Drosophila as a model system.

Jillian L. Shaw, Senior Editor

Jillian decided to dedicate herself to a life of exploring the mysteries of the brain after reading neurological case studies by Oliver Sachs and Ramachandran as a student at Vassar College.  After completing a B.A. in Neuroscience with honors in 2009, Jillian headed to USC to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience where she is now in her 5th year.  A research stint in Belgium exposed Jillian to the complexities of cell signaling pathways, and her interests shifted from cognitive neuroscience to cellular and molecular neuroscience.  Her current research focuses on the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease using Drosophila as a genetic model to explore axonal transport, mitochondria dysfunction, synaptic defects, and neurodegeneration.  When she is not in the lab, Jillian is forming new synapses by rock climbing throughout Southern California.

Anita Ramanathan, Contributing Editor

Anita met neuroscience during her undergraduate project, and it was love at first sight.  While majoring in biotechnology at the B.M.S. College of Engineering, Bangalore, she had the opportunity to learn about biochemical subtyping as a method for biomarker discovery in neurodevelopmental disorders.  She then pursued a Master’s in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at USC.  During her thesis project, her interest in translational neuroscience further evolved as she studied a kinase pathway (PI3K) highly implicated in autism.  She currently belongs to the Neuroscience Graduate Program at USC and works on components of the blood-brain barrier and its integrity in animal models of neurological disorders. Outside the lab, Anita is very enthusiastic about educational and scientific storytelling! Some of her parallel interests include consumer psychology and behavior.

Pratichi Dixit, Social Media Marketing Manager

Pratichi completed her Masters in Business Administration, specializing in International Business and Marketing from Birla Institute of Management Technology, Noida, India. She has over 3 years of experience in the field of Social Media Marketing and Business Development. Currently, she lives in Germany, learning the German language and about German Culture.

Jennifer Tribble, Contributing Editor

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.

David Jaimes, Visual and Video Designer

David Jaimes is originally from Colombia, but grew up in Canada.  He attended The Master’s College and received his BS in biology. He is currently a graphic designer making videos for Knowing Neurons.  In his spare time he likes to hit the gym, draw people at Starbucks, and spend time with family.

McCall Sarrett, Content Illustrator

McCall Sarrett is a Nashville native who graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2013 with a BA in Neuroscience and the Perception of Language, and a minor in Portuguese. After a brief stint working on a dairy farm, she returned to graduate school to pursue her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Iowa. McCall is primarily interested in how the brain integrates multiple sources of information during speech perception, and how these dynamics change throughout word learning and second language acquisition. The goal of her research is to better inform clinical diagnostics and treatments for those with language difficulties and hearing loss. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, whistling, and making ice cream.

Daniel Toker, Contributing Editor

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:

Gabrielle-Ann Torre, Contributing Editor

Gabrielle-Ann Torre, Contributing Editor

Gabrielle-Ann is a PhD student at Georgetown University and studies the neural correlates of reading, IQ, and socioeconomic status. She is broadly interested in using neuroimaging methods to ask questions about human cognitive behaviors and abilities. Previously, she studied brain-behavior relationships in healthy aging at the University of Arizona, where she developed a love for literature and creative writing. She still enjoys reading and writing, as well as live music, gender studies, and eating.

Sophie Fessl, Contributing Editor

Sophie Fessl, Contributing Editor

Sophie’s discovered her love for all things brain-related during her undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of Oxford. She then earned her PhD in Developmental Neurobiology from King’s College London. In her thesis, Sophie studied how axons are guided through the developing brain of fruitflies. After her PhD, Sophie returned to her hometown of Vienna, Austria, where she is now working as a science writer. Sophie also writes about science and the brain on her blog,

Michal Rössler, Content Illustrator

Michal Rössler, Content Illustrator


Caitlin Aamodt, Contributing Editor

Caitlin Aamodt, Contributing Editor

Caitlin Aamodt is a Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience at UCLA in the lab of Stephanie White. Her research focuses on using songbirds as a translational drug discovery model for treating autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Broadly she is interested in gene regulation in behavior, cognitive evolution, and neuropharmacology. In addition to Knowing Neurons her science writing has appeared on Aeon, Discover, What is Epigenetics?, and others. She can be found online at

Alexa Erdogan, Podcast Producer & Senior Editor

Alexa Erdogan is currently pursuing a Master's in Space Systems Engineering at John Hopkins University. Although she originally started in molecular and cellular biology and neuroscience, she has since combined those fields with space science, leading to the pursuit of her ultimate final frontier: space neuroscience. Her prior research has delved into the role of microglia in ischemic preconditioning, while her current pursuits explore the impact that outer space has on neurological systems across various species. Outside of research, she tries to share her passion for science with other curious minds using science communication across various media, from print to podcast. For more about Alexa's research and experience, please visit her full profile.

Rajamani Selvam, Senior Content Illustrator

Rajamani Selvam received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience. She is currently pursuing a fellowship where she studies the blood-brain barrier. She is interested in a career in science policy or regulatory affairs. During her free time, she volunteers as a judge to Science Fairs to elementary and high schoolers, performs demonstrations and hands-on activities to provide insights on brain and Neuroscience. She also mentors students through the 1000 Girls 1000 Futures program and Freedom English Academy where she provides career guidance. Away from science, she is an artist and enjoys leisure travel.

Selena Milanovic, Chief Partnership Officer

Selena is an enthusiastic biomedical engineer who strives to improve global healthcare. She is currently completing a PhD in mathematical neuroscience at the University of Oxford, with the aim of uncovering what MRI pictures hide. Indeed, the tiniest brain vessels that can’t be captured through imaging play a key role in brain degenerative diseases, making their understanding crucial. Being very passionate about science communication, Selena often gives talks in schools and universities and has also recently presented her research in the UK Parliament. For more about Selena's research and experience, please visit her full profile.

Amin Kamaleddin, Business Development Officer

Amin Kamaleddin is a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. His research seeks to decipher how information is processed by the nervous system and how disruption of that processing leads to clinically important conditions such as chronic pain. Besides research, Amin is experienced with higher education governance and mental health initiatives. You can follow him on LinkedIn or Facebook to know more about his research and advocacy.

Desi Nesheva, Contributing Editor

Desi Nesheva received a BSc degree in neuroscience with pharmacology at the University of Nottingham and she is currently working on a PhD project in molecular pharmacology and drug discovery. Her project explores targeting chemokine receptors for the treatment of inflammatory conditions as well as cancer. She likes combining aspects of her knowledge in neuroscience, immunology and pharmacology and exploring new targets for the treatment of CNS diseases such as schizophrenia! Outside of science she enjoys cooking (and eating), reading fiction and gardening. For more about Desi's research and experience, please visit her full profile

Kellie Au, Statistician

Kellie is a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. She has strong interest in math, sciences, and coding. Her curiosity in neuroscience has grown as she continues to investigate the effects of music on social bonding. Kellie spends hours volunteering at the hospital and community philanthropies serving underserved families and children. In her spare time, she loves playing basketball, learning guitar, and exploring different music genres.

Joel Frohlich, Columnist

Joel Frohlich is a postdoc studying consciousness in the lab of Martin Monti at UCLA. He is interested in using brain activity recorded with EEG to infer when a person is conscious. Joel earned his PhD from UCLA in 2018 studying EEG markers of neurodevelopmental disorders in the lab of Shafali Jeste. You can also check out Joel's blog Consciousness, Self-Organization, and Neuroscience on Psychology Today. For more about Joel's research and writing, please visit Joel's website at

Sean Noah, Senior Editor

Sean is a PhD student at UC Davis, studying the neural mechanisms of attention. Previously, he studied cognitive science and neurobiology at UC Berkeley, and then worked for Think Now, Inc., studying attention with EEG. He is deeply interested in artificial intelligence, the nature of information in the brain, and the relationship between consciousness and attention. He also loves reading, writing, eating, and gardening.

Nerissa Culi, Web and Digital Content Officer

Nerissa received her MSci in Neuroscience from The University of Nottingham where she studied the protective effects of hypothermia on brain physiology. During her placement year, she investigated the role of inflammation in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease using MRI and computational techniques. Nerissa now works in digital marketing where she exercises her analytical skills as a Tech Account Manager, helping businesses to grow through optimisation and automation. Outside of work she loves trying out new restaurants, traveling and baking. For more information on Nerissa, please visit her full profile.

Holly Hake, Academic Outreach Officer

Holly is a 2nd year PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of Washington. Her current research involves using intrinsic resting state brain activity as a means of predicting an individual’s intelligence and decision-making abilities. Before graduate school, Holly earned her BSc in Psychology and Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, where she studied MDMA (ecstasy) as an adjunct therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder. She later joined the National Institute on Drug Abuse to map novel neural circuitry implicated in anxiety and depression. Outside of the lab, Holly researches scientific policy, and participates in science education outreach to bridge the gap between science and the public.

Nerea Felices, Translator and Outreach Coordinator

Nerea Felices received her BS in Basic and Experimental Biomedicine from the University of Seville (Spain) in 2019. During her MSci in Genetics and Evolution, she became passionate about science communication. She joined a science communication agency as an intern in Madrid and continued working on her skills through courses and seminars. She is currently working as a technology transfer technician in the Andalusian Center of Nanomedicine and Biotechnology BIONAND in Málaga (Spain) but wants to keep on pursuing a communication career, and combine it with her art enthusiasm.  In her free time she enjoys reading and painting tiny canvases - you can see her work on her website.

Marco Travaglio, Former Editor-in-Chief

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 in 2018. For more about Marco's research and experience, please visit his full profile.

Lisa-Ruth Vial, Content Illustrator

Lisa is pursuing her Phd in Dr. Holger Lerche’s lab at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen, Germany. In her thesis she studies the role of Parvalbumin positive interneurons in hereditary forms of epilepsy and migraine. She received both her BSc in Biology and her MSc in Neurobiology at the Eberhard Karls university of Tübingen. In her free time she enjoys video games, culture and art.

Yuki Hebner, Head of Science Policy and Contributing Editor

Yuki Hebner, Head of Science Policy and Contributing Editor

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.

Zoe Guttman, Contributing Editor

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.

Vicente Elgueta, Translator and Outreach Coordinator

Vicente Elgueta is a 20-year-old undergrad med student from Chile. He’s currently doing his clinical rotations in Universidad Austral de Chile, in Osorno, Chile. He’s also the local officer of Research Exchanges in IFMSA.UACh. Vicente has participated in a neurology project about COVID-19 and its effects on the brain and in Mental Health. Since then he developed a great interest in neurosciences and neurology in general. He joined the KN team because he wants to broaden his knowledge on the wonders of the brain, and because he loves science communications. Outside studying and academics, he likes playing guitar, listening to music, chilling with friends, and playing games online.

Charmi Porwal, Neuroscience News Reporter

Charmi Porwal received her BSc in Physiotherapy from D.Y. University Navi Mumbai in 2018. During her time there, she worked and trained children with multiple developmental disorders to help them to improve their motor and sensory functions. More recently, she decided to shift her focus to fundamental aspects of neuroscience, having joined the Cellular Neurobiology Lab at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, in 2019. Currently, her interest lies in understanding the neuronal pathology underlying autism spectrum disorder. More specifically, she is interested in understanding how altered sensorimotor experience in children translates into structural impairments during neurodevelopment. For more about Charmi's research and experience, please visit her full profile.

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Sarah Barron, Social Media and Content Specialist

Sarah is currently a PhD student the University of Cambridge studying bioelectronics and bioengineering. Sarah's background is multidisciplinary, receiving her BSc in neuroscience and MSc in brain imaging from the University of Nottingham before moving into the engineering field and receiving her MRes in sensor technology and application from the University of Cambridge. Her current work focuses on developing flexible electronic devices to monitor 3D in vitro models of epithelial tissue. She is also a STEM ambassador and is passionate about science communication and outreach work. Apart from science, Sarah loves sports and competes nationally in powerlifting and cheerleading! For her full portfolio and contact visit her full profile.

Daniel Kusko, Podcast Editor

Danny Kusko is a Clinical/Medical psychology PhD student in Dr. Burel Goodin's lab at The University of Alabama, Birmingham. His research interests are: psychological risk/resilience factors for chronic pain disorders, interventions for chronic pain (e.g. mindfulness meditation), and interdisciplinary care for mental health. He is working with the Knowing Neurons Podcast team as an assistant editor.

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Arielle Hogan, Chief Executive Officer

Arielle Hogan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in the lab of Dr. Daniel Geschwind at UCLA. Her research focuses on bioinformatic approaches to studying nervous system injury and repair. Specifically, she is researching the intrinsic gene regulatory programs underlying PNS regeneration and how these programs can be induced in models of CNS injury to promote regeneration. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 with a BS in Biology and a BA in French. Outside of the lab, she spends time playing basketball, going to the movies (even the bad ones), and traveling. For more information about Arielle Hogan, please visit her full profile.

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Andrew Botemps, Social Media Team

Andrew Bontemps recently received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Alabama and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His current line of research focuses on motivations for use of cannabis, opioids, and nicotine as well as other substances. His previous work has focused on understanding how psychopathic traits develop in youth as well as the neurological correlates of psychopathy. When he’s out of the lab, you can find Andrew hiking or running the trails of Alabama, teaching his cats Butternut and Zucchini how to do tricks, or baking in the kitchen with his wife, Alena.

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Ebrahim Feghhi, Contributing Editor and Podcast Producer

Ebrahim Feghhi is PhD student in Neuroscience in the lab of Jonathan Kao at UCLA. He is interested in reverse engineering deep learning systems and comparing them to the human brain, specifically in the domain of language. His goal is to build machines with human like intelligence, as well as use this knowledge to better understand psychiatric disorders. Outside of lab, Ebrahim enjoys wrestling and jiu-jitsu.

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Elizabeth Burnette, Lead Podcast Producer and Contributing Editor

Elizabeth Burnette is pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at UCLA, in the lab of Dr. Lara Ray. Her research uses neuroimaging and psychoneuroimmunology methods to study the neurobiology of addiction in clinical populations. Her dissertation project explores the role of neuroinflammation in alcohol use disorder. She received her BS in Neuroscience from Duke University in 2018. For more about Elizabeth's research and experience, please visit her full profile and website.

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Himani Arora, Content Illustrator

Himani works as a Science Communicator with Hello Tomorrow Asia Pacific. She completed her Masters in Zoology from BHU, India. She has been working in the field of science communication since the last year. She writes articles, creates illustrations and makes science comics. You can follow her work here.

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James Cole, Contributing Editor

James Cole is a Ph.D. student working in the lab of Dr. Xiaorong Liu at the University of Virginia, where he studies retinal development and the disruptive effects of aniridia, a panocular eye disorder. In 2018 he graduated from The College of William and Mary, where he pursued neuroscience and medieval-renaissance studies. He is chiefly interested in areas where neuroscience intersects with the humanities, particularly in the processing and appreciation of art, literature, and culture. In addition to his scientific pursuits, James is a poet, author, filmmaker, and lover of all things historical. He teaches composition and literary criticism at WriterHouse, hosts Poetry Live! at Live Arts Theater, and serves on the Board of Governors for the Virginia Writers Club.

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John Zhou, Contributing Editor

John is a first-year PhD student at UCLA working on computational and theoretical neuroscience. He received his BS in computer science from Columbia University, where he worked on spike sorting, behavioral video analysis, and motor decoding. He is broadly interested in using machine learning and causal inference to model learning and computation in the brain, including applications for brain-computer interfaces and NeuroAI. When not coding, he enjoys cooking, playing soccer, and skiing.

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Katelyn Mooney, Social Media Team

Kate is a first-year neuroscience PhD student at UCLA. She received a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a BA in Economics from the University of Connecticut in 2020, while minoring in Physiology and Neurobiology. She then earned her MS in Physiology and Neurobiology under Dr. Geoffrey Tanner, researching the effectiveness of dietary ketone supplementation at ameliorating post-TBI pathological markers. She is broadly interested in joining a lab focused on studying neurodegeneration or addiction. When not conducting research, Kate enjoys walking, cooking (pasta), trying out new coffee shops, and golfing.

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Mary Cooper, Contributing Editor

Mary Cooper is a Graduate Student in the Departments of Neurology and Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She uses a range of techniques including mRNA hybridization, EEG, and behavioral machine learning programs to study circadian influences on Alzheimer’s Disease. Mary’s scientific pursuits outside the lab are to make useful connections between classical arts and academic sciences. She is a contributor and volunteer at the Brain Awareness Week celebrations in Birmingham, Alabama. In her spare time, Mary is a pianist, gardener, and painter.

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Peyton Yee, Fundraising Manager

Peyton is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia pursuing a degree in neuroscience. After graduation, she plans to earn her PhD in neuroscience. Peyton's specific interest in neuroscience focuses on the relationship between developmental processes and behavioral neuroscience. She currently works in the Condron lab focusing on neural signaling for larvae cooperation. Outside of science, she enjoys crocheting, painting, and traveling.

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Rayven-Nikkita Collins, Head of Science Policy

Rayven-Nikkita "RN" Collins (she/they) is finishing her MS in Anatomy & Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine, where she is studying the impact of social stress through allostatic load biomarkers on brain structure and, ultimately, function in AD-signature brain regions utilizing techniques for analyzing and interpreting neuroimaging data. This research line aims to understand structural factors proliferating racial disparities in neurocognitive and brain aging measures. In Fall 2023, RN will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in the lab of Pablo Lopez at the Karolinska Institutet, studying how psychedelic compounds, such as psilocybin and ketamine, modulate brain plasticity in preclinical rodent models employing molecular biology and computational neuroscience methods. Outside the lab, RN is a research assistant at Harvard Business School in Dr. Ting Zhang's Lab and a psychedelic medical education program & research coordinator at Yale Psychiatry but can always make time for being in nature, reading, watching documentaries, and traveling. She integrates environmental justice, universal design, and community-driven research into all of her scholarly pursuits. RN received her bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA in Developmental Psychology from the City University of New York.

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Talia Oughourlian, Contributing Editor

Talia Oughourlian is pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UCLA under the mentorship of Dr. Benjamin Ellingson. Her dissertation research uses neuroimaging to characterize structural and functional alterations within the brains of patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) during disease progression and following surgical intervention. Furthermore, her research aims to evaluate the relationship between degree of spinal cord compression and upstream supraspinal alterations, as well as sex-dependent microstructural and functional brain reorganization in DCM patients. In addition, Talia has studied brain tumor metabolism and the prognostic value of tumor acidity and hypoxia imaging biomarkers. Talia received a BS with honors in Computational Neuroscience from USC in 2018. In her spare time, Talia enjoys painting, baking, and hiking with her puppy Mila.

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Vanessa Ho, Illustration and Outreach Team

Vanessa is a final year PhD student at Imperial College London. She received her BSc in Chemistry and MRes in Chemical Biology from Imperial College London. Her research uses microfluidic technology to detect RNA molecules in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at a single cell resolution using optical lasers and microscopy. She is an active Women in STEM mentor and have a passion to communicate science to younger generations as well as the public! She enjoys traveling around the world, going to the gym and bouldering! Follower her twitter for find out more: @vanessaho_

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Vincent Medina, Contributing Editor

Vincent is a Cognitive and Brain Sciences PhD student at Louisiana State University. His research interests are in sound, space, and time perception. He previously earned an Aging Sciences B.S. from the University of South Florida, then an Experimental Psychology M.S. with a focus in cognitive neuroscience from Seton Hall University. He has also been an intern for both the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory at NASA Stennis Space Center and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

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Mariella Careaga, Contributing Editor

Mariella is a postdoctoral researcher at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, where she studies the effects of prolonged stress and traumatic brain injury on the stress response. Writing about science is one of her passions. To hone her writing skills, she enrolled in a Specialized Certificate in Science Communication at the University of California, San Diego, in 2021. Since then, she has published articles on Knowing Neurons and Massive Science. She also contributes as a content creator to the Brazilian science communication project Nunca Vi Um Cientista. When she is not in the lab or writing, Mariella enjoys riding her bike around town and finding new places to try new foods. She also loves binge-watching suspense and horror movies/series and playing with her cats. Mariella received her bachelor's degree in Biomedicine, and a Master's and Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), in Brazil.

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Alex Contreras, Website Team

Alex completed his Bachelor's in Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin. There, he taught lab techniques as a lab mentor and took journalism classes to fulfill a minor in Science Communication. After graduating and discovering his interest in sharing science with others, Alex worked at the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center where he enriched K-12 students' science curriculum with environmental field experience. He now works as a chemistry teacher at Morton Ranch High School. In his free time, he likes to take circus aerial classes.

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Jenna Hartstein, Outreach and Translation Team

Jenna (she/her) received her BS in Human Biology and Society and a minor in Spanish at UCLA in the Fall of 2022, where she is involved in research surrounding the impacts of stress, depression, and paid family leave on parental and childhood health outcomes in the perinatal period. She enjoys connecting the realms of neuroscience with her Spanish minor, and was a member of the UCLA Brain Research Institute and Knowing Neurons collaboration as a student translator in Spring 2021. In the future, she plans to attend medical school.

Martin Jarzyna, Outreach and Translation Team

Martin Jarzyna is a 2nd-year PhD student in the Neurosciences program at Washington University in St. Louis. He is broadly interested in how environmental pressures shape neural circuits and the behaviors they mediate. In his research, he uses in vivo electrophysiology to investigate seasonal plasticity in the electric communication circuits of West African mormyrid fish. Martin is additionally passionate about making science more accessible and useful to the public, beyond barriers of language and education level. If he's not in the lab, you can find Martin writing and recording music, skateboarding, cooking, or staring at bodies of water.

Keya Vijapure, Outreach and Translation Team

Keya Vijapure is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Physiological Sciences, and minoring in Spanish. She is passionate about advocating against disparities in the education and healthcare field and therefore enjoyed her time as a student translator for Knowing Neurons. Keya is currently working in a sleep and circadian rhythm lab where she is studying the effects of diet on gut microbiomes as they relate to sleep durations in mice. After graduating, she plans on applying to medical school. Outside of school, she enjoys baking, reading, and gardening.

Maia Jackson, Outreach and Translation Team

Maia is an undergraduate student at UCLA studying Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology with a minor in Spanish. She is a member of a lab studying clear cell renal cell carcinoma and hopes to one day further her scientific education with a PhD program in cancer biology or related fields. Working with Knowing Neurons in translation and outreach has inspired her to use her Spanish to influence science and continue working to make information more accessible to disadvantaged communities.

Parth Shah, Website Team

I am Parth Shah, I have completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Biotechnology from Manipal Academy Of Higher Education, India. I am currently pursuing Masters by Research in translational oncology at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. I have always been interested in cancer research. Overgrowth of any part of tissue (tumorous or hypertrophic growth) causes a mass effect on the organism’s entire system and negatively impacts one’s well-being. Effective treatment these cancers is the only hope to restore the  normal functioning and improve the life expectancy and quality of life for the person.

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