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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy Graduate Students

1st Year

  • Jacob Clarin
  • Bridie Eckel
  • Cydney Martin
  • Anthony Moreno Sanchez
  • Shanna Samels
  • Nishell Savory
  • Julie Schaub
  • Anurag Singh
  • Jana Smuts
  • Quinn Stewart
  • Christopher West
  • Xinyi (Jenny) Chen
  • Sophie Cohen
  • Jazana Goolsby
  • Meghan Hemdal
  • Revathi Kaduru
  • Moin Vahora
  • Jason Wheeler
  • Nichole Yakas

2nd Year

  • Kendra Case
  • Christina Curran-Alfaro
  • Adam Hall
  • Arron Hall
  • Andrew Lockhart
  • Joya Maser
  • Jenna McGrath
  • Brody Carpenter
  • Abby Keith
  • Pryscilla Santos Acevedo
  • Mariah Wulf

3rd Year

  • Marissa Cusimano
  • Ashraful Islam
  • Ashley Opalka
  • Jennifer Pastorino
  • Shayna Singh
  • Xiaohaun Sun
  • Jeremy Weinbeger

4th Year

  • Katie Bryant
  • Shrobona Guha
  • Taylor McCorkle
  • Breanne Pirino
  • Jonathan Richards
  • Candace Rizzi-Wise
  • Kyle Samson
  • Trevor Smith
  • Nicholas Stachowski
  • John Walker
  • Sam Wechsler

5th Year

  • Sadie Bennison
  • Andrey Borisyuk
  • Phillip Clark
  • Nancy Mack
  • Dillon Malloy
  • Micaela O'Reilly

6th Year

  • Genevieve Curtis
  • Jaclyn DeFinis
  • Silvia Fernandes

7th Year

  • Cameron Trueblood

Student Profiles

Andrey Borisyuk, BS, BA

Andrey Borisyuk, BS, BA

MS student, Giszter Lab

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 an 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.

Silvia Fernandes, BS

Silvia Fernandes, BS

PhD student, Hou Lab

Silvia Fernandes is a current PhD student in the Neuroscience program.

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.

Shrobona Guha, MS

Shrobona Guha: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD Candidate, Baas Lab

Shrobona is currently a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience program working in Dr. Peter Baas’s Lab at Drexel University. She earned an MS in biotechnology from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. in India and she worked on the neuronal circuit development of zebrafish for a year at IISER Pune.

In the Baas Lab, Shrobona's primary research focus is on understanding establishment and preservation of neuronal microtubule array all throughout development. Her project will focus on the role of mitotic motor proteins in the regulation of the dynamic behaviors of the microtubule cytoskeleton. Microtubule dynamics are involved in neuronal processes like growth cone turning, axon guidance, neuronal migration and maturation.

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

Adam Hall, BS

Adam Hall: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD student

Adam holds a BS in neuroscience and psychology. He is a first-year student on a PhD track.

Adam is interested in the factors that contribute to regeneration and functional recovery in the spinal cord after injury.

Dillon C. Malloy

Dillon Malloy

PhD student, Côté Lab

Dillon graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science in health and exercise science from Pfeiffer University in spring 2017. He entered the Drexel University Neuroscience graduate program in fall 2017 and joined the lab of Dr. Marie-Pascale Côté.

Dillon’s research focuses on the neuromodulation of spinal networks with noninvasive transcutaneous electrical spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) after spinal cord injury (SCI). The mechanisms and neuroplastic changes underlying the positive effects of tSCS on functional recovery remains to be determined. Therefore, Dillon’s project aims to decrease spasticity after SCI and investigate potential mechanisms involved with this recovery by using tSCS as an activity-based rehabilitation therapy to restore reflex inhibition.

Research interests:
Rehabilitation, activity-based therapy, exercise, electrical stimulation, neuromodulation, neuroplasticity, neurotrauma, reflexes, locomotion, spinal cord injury, chloride homeostasis.

Joya Maser, BA

Joya Maser: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD student

In 2020, Joya received a BA in neuroscience with a minor in psychology from Franklin & Marshall College. She is currently a first-year neuroscience PhD student in the Drexel University graduate program.

Research interests:
Systems and behavioral neurobiology.

Taylor McCorkle, MS

Taylor McCorkle

PhD student, Raghupathi Lab

Taylor attended to University of Pennsylvania for undergraduate education, where she received her BA in biology with a minor in psychology. She then came into the Drexel Neuroscience program as a master's student and received this degree in May of 2020. She has now transferred into the PhD program.

In her first two years in the Raghupathi Lab, Taylor has researched sex differences in behavioral outcomes following repetitive mild traumatic brain injury in adolescent rats. As she begins her third year she will focus on novel mechanisms through which hippocampal-dependent cognitive impairment and depression are expressed post-injury in male and female rats. She is particularly interested in the role of corticotrophin releasing factor as a neuromodulator of acetylcholine synthesis and release within the medial septum and nucleus accumbens.

Jenna McGrath, BS

Jenna McGrath: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD student

I have a bachelor of science in behavioral neuroscience with a minor in psychology from Lehigh University. I am a first-year PhD student.

Research interests:
I am most interested in neurodegenerative diseases but have interests in addiction and the reward pathway as well.

Ashley Opalka, BS

Ashley Opalka

PhD student, Wang Lab

Ashley graduated with a BS and honors from the University of Scranton in 2017 with a double major in neuroscience and biology and a minor in biochemistry. She joined the department in fall 2017 as a research assistant in the Wang Lab and began the graduate program in fall 2019, remaining in the Wang Lab to pursue a PhD in neuroscience.

Ashley is interested in how brain oscillations and unique patterns of neural ensemble activity can initiate and influence the process of memory consolidation in mice, which occurs during sleep. She utilizes extracellular electrophysiology and optogenetics in freely behaving mice to determine the neural mechanisms that store our long-lasting memories. She hopes to expand our understanding of how the brain integrates experiences to properly respond to our environment, which can have a wide impact on amnestic, psychiatric, pathological and addiction disorders.

Research interests:
Learning, memory, memory consolidation, sleep neurobiology, systems neurobiology, information processing.

Micaela O'Reilly, BS

Micaela O'Reilly: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD Candidate, Tom Lab

Micaela graduated with a bachelor of Science from the University of Vermont in Spring 2016 with a major in neuroscience. She entered the Drexel University graduate program in neuroscience during the fall of 2017 and joined the lab of Dr. Veronica Tom pursuing a PhD in neuroscience.

Micaela’s research involves therapeutically targeting specific factors within the neuroimmune system to modulate plasticity following spinal cord injury. She is interested in exploring how such neuroimmune activity and plasticity contributes to changes in the spinal sympathetic reflex (SSR) circuit and the development of sympathetic hyperreflexia (indicated by autonomic dysreflexia) and resultant dysimmunity.

Research interests:
Spinal cord injury, neurotrauma, neuroinflammation/neuroimmune response, neuroplasticity.

Breanne Pirino, MS

Breanne Pirino: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD student, Barson Lab

Breanne earned her BS in neuroscience and Spanish from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 2013 and her MS in neuroscience from Drexel University in 2020, before transitioning to the PhD program.

Breanne’s research focuses on the role of the kappa-opioid receptor system in voluntary alcohol drinking and its subregional differences within the nucleus accumbens of rats. Classically, this receptor system and its ligand, dynorphin, have been understood to have dysphoric effects and enhance alcohol drinking; however, this project explores how, in the rostral subregion, activation of these receptors can suppress alcohol drinking. Future projects will explore how this effect may change with the development of dependence.

Research interests:
Ethanol use, nucleus accumbens subregions, kappa-opioid receptors, microinjections .

Kyle Samson, BS

Kyle Samson: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

MD/PhD Student, España Lab

Kyle completed his BS in biology from Canisius College in 2017. He began at Drexel in 2018 in the MD program and transferred into the MD/PhD program in the summer of 2019 to join Dr. Rodrigo España’s lab.

Current research:
Kyle is currently using an oxycodone (a prescription opioid) self-administration paradigm to model drug craving following abstinence periods. He uses fast scan cyclic voltammetry to determine dopaminergic changes associated with exaggerated oxycodone craving. He plans to manipulate the hypocretin system to attenuating oxycodone craving and to modulate dopamine transmission.

Research interests:
Substance use disorder, opioid use disorder, dopamine transmission, mechanism of action of opioids.

Pryscilla Santos Acevedo, BA

Pryscilla Santos Acevedo: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

MS student

I am originally from Florida. I received a BA in psychology and am now a first-year student at Drexel pursuing an MS in neuroscience.

Research interests:
Traumatic brain injury, the dopamine pathway, addiction and neurodegenerative diseases.

Shayna Singh, BS

Shayna Singh: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD student, Dougherty Lab

I graduated from Drexel University in 2019 and did undergraduate research in the lab of Dr. Michael Akins. I studied how proteins related to fragile X syndrome were positioned in the spinal cord to influence motor and sensory deficits seen in fragile X syndrome and autism. I majored in biology but earned a minor in STEM education that allowed me to teach science in Philadelphia classrooms.

Current research:
How interneurons that contribute to rhythmogenesis behave during locomotion and across development. My goal is to use genetic and electrophysiological tools to better understand the mechanism of rhythmogenesis within the neonatal and adult spinal cord. Understanding the role that specific rhythm-generating interneurons play in the spinal cord may better inform therapeutic targets following injury and would contribute to our understanding of locomotion at cellular and network levels.

Research interests:
Spinal cord, interneurons, patch clamp electrophysiology, locomotion.

Trevor Smith, BS

Trevor Smith

PhD Student, Giszter Lab

Trevor received his BS in biology from Northwest Nazarene University in 2015. Before coming to Drexel to pursue his PhD, he worked for two years as an intramural research trainee fellow at the NIH. He is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Simon Giszter.

Current research:
Trevor's research focuses on the spinal cord's intrinsic capacity to structure and pattern movement. Owing to their unique physiology, frogs can chronically survive spinalization while retaining a repertoire of reflexes. Motor control within this model appears to be simplified to the activation of a handful of independent elements, motor modules, which recruit the appropriate muscle synergies. The mechanisms of module recruitment and the neurobiological basis for modules remains largely unknown. Understanding these mechanisms will clarify the role of supraspinal centers in motor control and may guide rehabilitation for motor deficits after disease or injury.

Research interests:
Spinal cord injury, neuroengineering, sensorineural integration, comparative motor control.

Nicholas Stachowski, MS

Nicholas Stachowski: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD student, Detloff Lab

I earned a BS in neuroscience and a BA history from the University of Delaware. I started in the MS program in Neuroscience at Drexel in 2016 with Dr. Dougherty and graduated in 2018. After a year as a technician with Dr. Dougherty, I entered the PhD program with advanced standing as a third-year candidate. I will complete my thesis project under Dr. Dougherty's mentorship.

Current research:
Accessing spinal central pattern generator circuitry to restore hindlimb motor function after complete spinal cord injury (SCI) in mouse. I am implementing epidural stimulation with viral therapy to promote post-SCI recovery and investigating the role of an identified population of inhibitory interneurons in the recovery process.

Research interests:
Electrophysiology, spinal reflexes and motor control.

Cameron Trueblood, BS

Cameron Trueblood: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD candidate, Hou Lab

Cameron Trueblood graduated cum laude from Hampton University in 2011 with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. She enrolled at Drexel University in 2014 to pursue her PhD in neuroscience.

Current research:
Cameron's research involves mitigating cardiovascular dysfunction after spinal cord injury (SCI) by grafting serotonergic progenitors into the lesion site. After high-level SCI, patients lose supraspinal control of their cardiovascular system, resulting in resting hemodynamic disorders and the development of autonomic dysreflexia. Serotonin originating from the caudal raphe nucleus in the brainstem is a major regulatory component of cardiovascular function. Therefore, transplanting cells with an enriched population of serotonergic progenitors may be a viable strategy for restoring hemodynamic regulation after SCI.

Research interests:
Neurotrauma, spinal cord injury, serotonin, cardiovascular function, transplantation.

John Walker, MS

John Walker: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

PhD candidate, Detloff Lab

John graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science from The Catholic University of America in spring 2018 with a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in neuroscience. He entered in the Drexel University Neuroscience graduate program in fall 2018 and joined the lab of Dr. Megan Detloff, where he completed his MS in neuroscience in 2020, before transitioning into the PhD program.

Current research:
Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) suffer a loss of motor and sensory function. The current standard of care to recover fine motor control is rehabilitation focused on a combination of range of motion, aerobic, and strength training (ST). However, limited research has been conducted to determine the role of nociceptive afferent inputs from muscle on spinal plasticity and/or recovery of function. Using a rodent model of SCI with ST rehabilitation, the Detloff Lab determined that motor training not only improves forelimb strength and fine motor function but also can modulate the development of neuropathic pain. John is investigating whether these improvements in reaching and grasping may be due, in part, to the plasticity of nociceptive afferents.

Research interests:
Neurotrauma, spinal cord injury, rehabilitation, neuroplasticity and motor control.

Mariah Wulf, BS

Mariah Wulf: Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy

MS student

I graduated with from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a BS in psychology and a concentration in behavioral neuroscience along with a BS in Neuroscience. I am currently a first-year student on the MS tract at Drexel University.

Research interests:
I am interested in examining the regenerative capabilities in the motor centers of the brain and the spinal cord in order to produce motor behavior after injury..

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Enlarged neuronet, glassy texture.