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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy Graduate Students

1st Year

  • Cassandra Alexandropoulos
  • Sadie Bennison
  • Andrey Borisyuk
  • Phillip Clark
  • Tucker Collins
  • Moriah Harton
  • Abreah Little
  • Nancy Mack
  • Dillon Malloy
  • Micaela O'Reilly
  • Avery Runyan
  • Shasha Yang
  • Ioanna Yiantsos

2nd Year

  • Sara Blazejewski
  • Regina Chang
  • Genevieve Curtis
  • Jaclyn DeFinis
  • Silvia Fernandes
  • Dana Lengel
  • Erin McEachern
  • Lauren Plyler
  • Nicholas Stachowski
  • Jadwiga Stroughair
  • Philip Yates

3rd Year

  • Pamela Alonso
  • Emily Black
  • Linda Chamberlain
  • Ashley Karnay
  • Kirsten King
  • Hemalatha Muralidharan
  • Ankita Patil
  • Margo Randelman
  • Cameron Trueblood

4th Year

  • Soha Chhaya
  • Austin Coley
  • Kaitlin Farrell
  • Andrew Gargiulo
  • Ngoc (Nesta) Ha
  • Eugene Mironets
  • Sarah Monaco
  • Rachel Nolan
  • Surya Pandey
  • Lyandysha Zholudeva

5th Year

  • Timothy Austin
  • Zachary D. Brodnik
  • Courtney Marshall

6th Year

  • Eric Prouty
  • Laura L. Krafjack
  • Jessica K. Shaw
  • Josephine L. Vanloozen

Student Profiles

Timothy Austin, BS

Timothy Austin, BS

PhD student, Baas Lab
toa26@drexel.edu

Education:
Tim is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience program at Drexel University. He earned a BS in Neuroscience in 2011 from Brigham Young University and began his work at Drexel that same year. Tim is working on a project with Dr. Baas to characterize the role that tau and other proteins play in maintaining microtubule dynamicity in neuronal cells. Tim has just obtained his PhD.

Research:
Tau is a major cytoskeletal component in the axon and is a factor related to negative symptoms in Alzheimer’s, progressive supranuclear palsy and many other diseases. By delving into the fundamental details of how tau interacts with cellular architecture and improving upon long-held dogma, Tim hopes to pave a new road for treatments in myriad diseases affected by tau pathology.

Tim is also studying axonal regeneration and disease treatment by enhancing dynamic microtubule mass. Dynamic microtubules are critical to normal cell function and are increasingly shown to be a major target for both disease and therapy. Tim is a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Jani Bilchak, BS

Jani Bilchak, BS

PhD student, Cote Lab
jnb94@drexel.edu

Education:
BSc Neuroscience at King’s College (London)

Research:
Recording differences in activity in the hind-limb cortex and spinal cord throughout the locomotor recovery process in SCI rats treated with robot rehabilitation and BDNF.

Emily Black, BS

Emily Black, BS

PhD student, España Lab
emb395@drexel.edu

Education:
Emily holds a BS in Neuroscience and a BA in music. She is a second-year student on the PhD track and a member of Dr. España's lab.

Research:
Using techniques such as freely moving fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, laser capture micro-dissection, and microdialysis, Emily's research examines the neurobiology underlying susceptibility and resilience to stress in a post-traumatic stress disorder rat model, with a specific focus on hypocretin and dopamine within the mesolimbic circuitry.

Sara Blazejewski, BS

Sara Blazejewski, BS

PhD student, Toyo-oka Lab
smb538@drexel.edu

Education:
Sara earned her BS in neuroscience from the University of Scranton. She is a PhD student in Dr. Kazu Toyo-oka’s lab.

Research:
The lab researches neuronal migration in the developing cerebral cortex.

Andrey Borisyuk, BS, BA

Andrey Borisyuk, BS, BA

MS student, Giszter Lab
apb323@drexel.edu

Education:
Andrey graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science and bachelor of arts from Belmont University in 2013 with majors in neuroscience and German. He entered into the Drexel University graduate program in fall 2017 pursing a MS in neuroscience.

Current research:
Investigating neurorobotic rehabilitation strategies to promote motor function recovery and to access spinal cord reorganization after spinal cord injury with Dr. Simon Giszter and his lab team.

Research interests:
Spinal cord injury, neuroengineering, neuroprosthetics, neurorobotics, brain machine interface, neuromechanics, neurorehabilitation.

Linda Chamberlin, BA

Linda Chamberlin, BA

MD/PhD student, Gao Lab
lac366@drexel.edu

Education:
Linda graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Southern California with a major in philosophy and minors in neuroscience and East Asian languages and cultures. She completed the postbaccalaureate premedical program at Columbia University in 2011 and entered the MD/PhD program at Drexel University College of Medicine in 2014.

Current research:
A novel breeding scheme is employed to selectively label prefrontal chandelier cells, which can then be probed with electrophysiology to examine their network and instrinsic properties. Additional labeling of parvalbumin-positive cells will allow a comparision between subsets of this cell population. The in vivo component of this project will deliver DREADDs to chandelier cells for manipulation during cognitive tasks.

An additional project uses a pharmacological rat model of schizophrenia that decreases prefrontal parvalbumin cell count as well as cognitive performance. Activation of an excitatory parvalbumin promoter driven DREADD tests whether increasing the activity of remaining parvalbumin cells is sufficient to rescue cognition. Changes are measured in slice electrophysiology, histology and behavior in male and female rats.

Research interests:
Interneurons, cognition, prefrontal circuitry, electrophysiology, animal models of psychiatric disease

Clinical interests:
Schizophrenia, mood disorders, refugee mental health

Soha Chhaya, BT

Soha Chhaya, BT

PhD student, Houle/Detloff Lab
sc3399@drexel.edu

Education:
Soha graduated with a BTech in biotechnological engineering, from SRM University, India, during which she worked in a lab studying the effects of metabolic dysfunction in lymphocytes on chronic fatigue in women with breast cancer.

Research:
Understanding the contribution of acute inflammation after spinal cord injury in the development of nociceptor dysfunction and neuropathic pain. Using a small molecule antagonist of the chemokine CCL2, her project explores CCL2-mediated macrophage recruitment as a mechanism of pain development, and its role in rehabilitation-mediated mitigation of pain.

Kaitlin Farrell, BS, MS

Kaitlin Farrell, BS, MS

MD/PhD student, Houle Lab
kf437@drexel.edu

Education:
BS from University of Pittsburgh 2011. MS from Boston University School of Medicine 2013. Entered MD/PhD program at Drexel University in 2013.

Research:
Dr. Houlé is interested in obtaining a basic understanding of axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury, in addition to utilizing combination treatment strategies to enhance axonal growth.

My project in his lab focuses on the role of neuroinflammation in the development of depression after spinal cord injury. It is our objective to elucidate the role of dorsal raphe neurons in the etiology of SCI-depression and attempt to find a more effective treatment strategy for this clinical population.

Silvia Fernandes, BS

Silvia Fernandes, BS

MS student, Hou Lab
sdf72@drexel.edu

Education:
Silvia Fernandes is a current master's student in the Neuroscience program.

Research:
Her project primarily focuses on in vivo cellular reprogramming following spinal cord injury. She will continue to do her PhD studying cardiac dysfunction following spinal cord injury in the Hou Lab.

Kirsten King, BS

Kirsten King, BS

PhD student, Kortagere Lab
kmk432@drexel.edu

Education:
Kirsten is a 2008 graduate of Ursinus College, and has a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience. Prior to beginning Drexel’s Neuroscience PhD program in 2015, Kirsten worked as a lab technician in Temple University College of Medicine’s Center for Substance Abuse Research, examining the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids on chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain. In December 2015, Kirsten joined Sandhya Kortagere’s lab in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. Kirsten’s projects have focused on behavioral studies using the 6-OHDA lesion rat model for Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Research:
Kirsten’s thesis project focusses on D3 agonist-induced impulse control disorders, a debilitating side effect currently seen among PD patients treated with such compounds. Specifically, she endeavors to understand the signaling pathways through which dopamine D3 receptor agonist compounds function and how activation of these different pathways influences the elicitation of an impulsive phenotype in a rat model of PD.

Dana Lengel, BS, MS

Dana Lengel, BS, MS

PhD student, Raghupathi Lab
dl822@drexel.edu

Education:
I am originally from Long Island, New York, where I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology at Queens College. I went on to complete a master’s degree in neuroscience at Stony Brook University, where my project involved investigating the effects of sex and sex differences underlying vulnerability to cognitive impairments in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease.

Research:
Currently, my research interests include neurodegenerative disease, the role of dopamine neurotransmission in prefrontal cortical function and cognition, and how these are modulated in injury and disease, as well as how these are impacted by sex and gender. My recent project during my rotation in Dr. Ramesh Raghupathi’s lab involved investigating differential effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in adolescent male and female rats, particularly focusing on the influence of changes in hypocretin expression on cognitive and emotional impairments after injury in female rats.

My future project goals include investigating functional changes within hypocretin and dopamine circuitry, and to further explore the neurobiological basis for sex differences in the adolescent mTBI model.

Courtney Marshall, BS

Courtney Marshall, BS

PhD student, Kortagere Lab
cm3233@drexel.edu

Education:
Courtney graduated from Davidson College in 2011 and received her BS in psychology. Before commencing her graduate studies in Drexel’s Neuroscience PhD program in 2013, she spent two years working as an IRTA fellow in the laboratory of cardiovascular science at the National Institute on Aging. During this time, Courtney focused on translational research aimed at pharmacological intervention of salt-sensitive hypertension using cardiotonic steroids.

Research:
Courtney is currently a member of Dr. Sandhya Kortagere’s laboratory in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. Her thesis research involves the pharmacological modulation of the dopamine D3 receptor in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Courtney’s aim to further characterize PD pathophysiology extends beyond its primary motor symptoms and focuses on the mild cognitive impairment that frequently afflicts PD patients. She uses a pharmacological approach in conjunction with behavioral assays to improve performance in prefrontal cortex-mediated cognitive processes that are commonly impaired in PD.

Andrew Matamoros, BA, MS

Andrew Matamoros, BA, MS

PhD student, Baas Lab
am3585@drexel.edu

Education:
Andrew is a PhD candidate in the Molecular & Cellular Biology & Genetics program at Drexel University College of Medicine. He earned an interdepartmental (biology and psychology) BA from the University of Delaware. Following graduation, he was promoted from an intern to a full-time research scientist at QPS LLC in the Translational Medicine Department. Andrew earned an MS in cellular and molecular neuroscience from Delaware State University while following the "Bridge to Doctorate" program between Delaware State and Drexel University College of Medicine.

Research:
In the Baas Lab, Andrew is currently researching microtubule-based mechanisms to facilitate nerve regeneration.

Eugene Mironets, BS

Eugene Mironets, BS

PhD student, Tom Lab
em628@drexel.edu

Education:
Eugene graduated with a bachelor’s in science from the University of Connecticut with a major in biology. He currently works with Dr. Veronica Tom to promote recovery of autonomic function after severe spinal cord injury.

Current research:
Understanding how persistent elevation of neuroinflammation post-SCI contributes to the development of autonomic dysreflexia. The goal of his project is to target one component of the neuroinflammatory cascade to diminish maladaptive plasticity that intensifies autonomic dysreflexia.

Research interests:
Neuroinflammation, spinal cord injury, neuroplasticity, cardiovascular function, immune function.

Hemalatha Muralidharan, BS, MS

Hemalatha Muralidharan, BS, MS

PhD student, Baas Lab
hm429@drexel.edu

Education:
Hema is a currently a doctoral student in the Neuroscience program working in Dr.Peter Baas’s Lab at Drexel University. She earned a BS in advanced biotechnology from Madras University, India. She also finished her MS in human genetics in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, before joining Drexel’s program in 2015.

Research:
In the Baas Lab, Hema's primary research focus is on understanding establishment and preservation of neuronal microtubule array all throughout development. She particularly focuses on understanding the repurposed role of mitotic motor proteins in the regulation of the dynamic behaviors of the microtubule cytoskeleton that result in establishment of the neuronal microtubule array. Understanding the role of mitotic motor regulation on the neuronal microtubule array can help in developing strategies for neurodegeneration and neurodevelopmental diseases

Research interests:
Microtubule, motor proteins, neurodevelopment, neurogenesis.

Ankita Patil, BS, MS

Ankita Patil, BS, MS

PhD student, Baas Lab
ap3326@drexel.edu

Education:
Ankita received her BS degree in life sciences from the University of Mumbai, India. She entered the Neuroscience master’s program in 2015. She completed her master’s degree in 2017, following which she transitioned into the PhD track in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy.

Current research:
Ankita’s project in the lab focuses on microtubule orientation in the axon and the molecular mechanisms that regulate this orientation. Microtubule polarity orientation is critical to axonal identity and neuronal function, but knowledge of how this orientation is established and maintained is limited. Her project aims to understand how different classes of microtubule-related proteins can regulate and organize axonal microtubules in a particular orientation.

Research interests:
Microtubules, cytoskeleton, neurodevelopment, live cell microscopy

Margo Randelman, BS

Margo Randelman, BS

PhD student, Lane Lab
mlr357@drexel.edu

Education:
Margo graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in science from Ursinus College in spring 2015 with a double major in neuroscience and biology. She entered into the Drexel University graduate program in fall 2015 and joined the lab of Dr. Michael Lane pursuing a PhD in neuroscience.

Current research:
Enhancing intrinsic neuroplasticity through respiratory rehabilitation to improve breathing following cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). After cervical spinal cord injury there is damage to the phrenic circuit, which impairs diaphragm function and therefore respiration. Daily acute hypercapnia training (dAIHc) is the respiratory rehabilitation technique used to drive intrinsic plasticity and strengthen the phrenic circuit for improved respiratory function following injury.

Research interests:
Neurotrauma, spinal cord injury, rehabilitation, biomaterial engineering, neuroplasticity and respiration.

Avery Runyan, BS

Avery Runyan, BS

MS student, Raghupathi Lab
amr475@drexel.edu

Education:
Avery graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry. During this time she worked in the lab of James Bamburg studying actin dynamics and Alzheimer’s disease. She entered Drexel University in the fall of 2017 and is currently pursuing a master's in neuroscience.

Current research:
Sex differences in social outcomes after traumatic brain injury. Clinical studies show children with a traumatic brain injury reported decreased social-emotional function and fewer peer relationships compared to other children. To study this phenomenon and begin to elucidate a mechanism, mice sociability and social recognition are studied using a three-chamber test.

Personal interests:
Hiking, travel, and reading.

Shasha Yang, MS

Shasha Yang, MS

PhD student, Gao Lab
sy458@drexel.edu

Education:
Shasha Yang graduated with a master’s degree in science from Capital Normal University, China in 2017, with a major in fundamental psychology. She entered into the Drexel University graduate program in fall 2017 and joined the lab of Dr. Wen-Jun Gao to pursue a PhD in neuroscience.

Current research:
The mediodorsal thalamus (MD) plays a critical role in cognition through its extensive glutamatergic innervation on both excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). By combining optogenetic technique with transgenic Cre mouse lines and whole cell path-clamp recording, we aim to characterize the function of the potential projection from the MD to PV+, VIP+ and SOM+ interneurons in the mouse PFC.

Research interests:
Prefrontal cortex, interneurons, mediodorsal thalamus, optogenetic, whole cell patch-clamp.

Philip Yates, BA

Philip Yates, BA

MD/PhD student, Baas Lab
ply23@drexel.edu

Education:
Phil graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in spring 2011 with a major in biology and a minor in neuroscience. Phil entered into the MD/PhD program at Drexel University College of Medicine in the summer of 2015, and joined the lab of Dr. Peter Baas in the summer of 2017 to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience.

Current research:
Phil is differentiating human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into neurons to study Gulf War Illness (GWI), a chronic multisystem disorder suffered by 250,000 veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Phil is investigating how pathology of the microtubule-associated protein tau might serve as a mechanism underlying microtubule-based deficits in neurons exposed to Gulf War neurotoxicants, as well as tau- and microtubule-based therapies for GWI. Phil is also generating hiPSC-derived cerebral organoids to model the disease in 3D culture.

Research interests:
Neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Gulf War illness, stem cells, microtubules, tau, and microtubule-based therapies for cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders.

Lyandysha Zholudeva, BS

Lyandysha Zholudeva, BS

PhD student, Lane Lab
lvz23@drexel.edu

Education:
Prior to coming to Drexel, Lana received a bachelor of science in chemistry with a minor in biophysics from Creighton University. Lana is a graduate research fellow in Dr. Michael Lane’s laboratory in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Research:
Her work is focused on transplantation of neural cells to repair the injured cervical spinal cord and improve respiratory function. Her goals are to identify subsets of neural precursors that are most effective for promoting recovery, whether enriching donor cells with promising therapeutic candidate neurons improves therapeutic efficacy, and whether combining transplantation with rehabilitative strategies further enhances donor-host integration and functional improvement.

 
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Enlarged neuronet, glassy texture.