University of Vermont

Neuroscience Graduate Program

students

Current NGP Students

Kim Albert

Mentor: Paul Newhouse, Psychiatry

I grew up in Los Angeles, California and began my undergraduate education at Los Angeles Pierce College, where I majored in psychology and worked as a supplemental instructor and tutor for the college. While at Pierce, I had the opportunity to intern during the summer at UC Berkeley on an imaging study of emotion and cognition. I finished my undergraduate degree after transferring to Johns Hopkins as a neuroscience major, and worked for two years in the Holland lab there, studying the role of the amygdala and connections to the substantia nigra in motivation and attention. My interests are in systems neuroscience and neurological conditions involving memory and attention. I am enjoying living in Vermont; I have a big yard for my two dogs and love the year round outdoor lifestyle.

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Rehan Ali

Mentor: Christopher Berger, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

I did my BS in Biology from LUMS School of Science and Engineering, Lahore, Pakistan. While there,  I worked on actin filaments dynamics as an independent research project and did my final year thesis work on hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome network analysis. I decided to pursue a career in research and became interested in exploring the molecular processes controlling the workings of the nervous system. I joined the neuroscience graduate program in 2012 and its been an amazing (although short) journey till now. 

 

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James Bishop

Mentor: Magdalena Naylor, Psychiatry and Helene Langevin, Neurological Sciences

As an undergraduate at Virginia Tech I explored interests in engineering before majoring in biological sciences. Upon graduation I moved to Boston, MA and started as a research technician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in stem cell biology. The aim of the project was to determine if there were pluripotent stem cells present in amniotic fluid that could be differentiated into hematopoietic cells. Seeking research on a macro level, I joined the P.A.I.N. (Pain Analgesia Imaging Neuroscience) Group at Harvard Medical School under mentors Dr. David Borsook and Dr. Lino Becerra. Over the next 4 years, I became involved in both clinical and non-clinical research at several institutions. Clinically, at Boston Children’s Hospital I worked on pediatric neuroimaging of CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). At McLean Psychiatric Hospital I performed pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging (phMRI) of opioids to predict their clinical efficacy. Non-Clinically, at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and Massachusetts General Hospital, I conducted awake animal (Rat) fMRI and phMRI utilizing in vivo optogenetic techniques and animal models of pain and migraine. The culmination of my undergraduate coursework and postgraduate research experiences has led me to the University of Vermont to pursue graduate work in translational neuroscience.

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kcKutibh Chihabi

Mentor: Tony Morielli, Pharmacology & John Green, Psychological Science

I received my bachelors degree from UCLA with a major in Neuroscience and spent several years at UCLA conducting research under Dr. Scott Fears. While I was there I worked on volumetric analysis of MRI's to determine genetic heritability for bipolar disorder. Ever since childhood I have been fascinated by the brain's remarkable abilities to comprehend and process the world around us, and my interests in particular are in learning and memory disorders such as Alzheimer's.

Currently I am working on a project in collaboration between the labs of Dr. Tony Morielli in the Pharmacology Department and Dr. John Green in the Psychology Department. My project is looking at the role that regulation of Potassium Ion Channels may have on Learning and Memory in the Cerebellum, and you can read more about it on my website

Another passion of mine is nutrition and I am obsessed with understanding what it is about our food that affects both our physical and mental health. As you may know, our society has been battling an ever-rising obesity epidemic over the last several decades. I personally have struggled with obesity and my family has a long history of metabolic disorders such as Type II Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Cardiovascular disease. You can read more about my personal story in the Nutrition section of my website (http://www.kutibh.com/nutrition.html) and what I hope to do in this field in the near future.

Having recently moved to Vermont, my long-time telescope hobby has been reignited with Vermont's dark skies (when it's not cloudy that is!). In addition to Astronomy, I have always been fascinated by the depths of the oceans and the mysteries they contain within. I am ecstatic to say that I finally obtained my PADI Advanced Scuba Diver Certification in the Fall of 2014, and I cannot be more joyed exploring the bounty of the oceans' depths. I currently live with my wife in Essex Junction and am enjoying the small village life! If you ever happen to be in Given Building feel free to stop by my office in Given B311 to say hi!

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CurryWillie Curry

Mentor: Rod Scott, Neurological Sciences

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, I grew up in the modest towns of West Memphis and Marion, Arkansas on the other side of the Mississippi River. I earned my B.A. in Psychology at the University of Arkansas, where I aided Dr. William Levine in the investigation of activation of negated concepts in the mental representation of sentences. Unsatisfied with lay explanations of emotion and motivation, I experienced a revelation in the form of a behavioral neuroscience class, which turned me on the path to what I considered a more empirical approach to human cognition and behavior. Also, I really needed a change of location. While I understand that it is quite a jump to enter the world of Neuroscience without a biology or chemistry background, I welcome the challenge and am absolutely ecstatic to do so with the facilities and amazing faculty present at UVM.

Besides brain stuff, I love reading (mostly sci-fi and Edwardian/Victorian literature), video games, and all facets of Japanese culture. I also have an (un)healthy obsession with music; my ongoing projects include writing a rock opera, assembling a sound installation, and thinking of ways to be Pete Townshend.

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DAlbertoNicholas D'Alberto

Mentor: James Hudziak, Psychiatry

I grew up in a small town just outside of Saratoga called Stillwater, New York. I earned my B.S. in Psychology from Hobart College in Geneva, New York.  I became interested in Neuroscience because it provided a medium between Psychology and Biology. Also, I find the brain incredibly interesting. During my final year at Hobart, I was able to work under the joint advisory of Dr. Jeffrey Greenspon form Hobart College and Dr. Mark Mapstone from the University of Rochester to complete a senior honors thesis.  My project examined the effect of reward on inhibitory control with implications to Parkinson's disease, using Electroencephalography (EEG) and Event-related potential (ERP) measurements. 

I chose the University of Vermont because of the wide range of faculty research and the high level of interaction between research departments. Outside from school I enjoy playing golf, fishing, hiking, and being outdoors.  I am looking forward to my future with the University of Vermont.

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Adrian Dutkiewicz

Mentor: Tony Morielli, Pharmacology

I grew up in Connecticut and enlisted in the US Marine Corps out of high school in 2004. I served in the Marine Corps Security Forces Regiment, as well as an infantryman with 1st Battalion 1st Marine Regiment. I have also served a 7-month deployment for the latter unit in the Al Anbar province of Iraq in 2007.

After I left the Marine Corps in 2008, I decided to pursue a career in biology research because I had a longstanding fascination with science. I wanted to understand behavior, and the more personally-satisfying aspects of this field led me to more reductionist approaches to understand the underlying biology. I gradually began to orientate myself towards neuroscience as a way of combining biology with my interest in psychology. I was able to acquire the essential skills of research with the help of the excellent Biomolecular Sciences and Biology faculty members at Central Connecticut State University, where I earned my B.S. and M.A. in Biomolecular Sciences.

I chose UVM because of the impressive array of research projects here, as well as the welcoming atmosphere of UVM's faculty and Vermont.

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Brittany Fair

Mentor: Undecided

I am a doctoral student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) at the University of Vermont. My current research focuses on major depressive disorder and cellular stress with an emphasis on molecular mechanisms and spans many disciplines including neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, and genetics. I have been fortunate to work with Dr. Owen Wolkowitz (UC San Francisco) in the UCSF Depression and Wellness Program and Dr. James Gross (Stanford University) in the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory before joining the NGP.

Outside of research, for the past three years, I worked as an after-school & substitute teacher for grades pre-K through 8th at Woodland School in Portola Valley, California and as a wilderness field instructor for a travel company called the Road Less Traveled where I traveled throughout the US and Tanzania. I earned my B.A. in Philosophy and Animal Ecology from Pitzer College (2011) and my Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program Certificate from SF State University and UC Berkeley (2013). I love to rock climb and my dog's name is Toucan.

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Eric Gonzalez

Mentor: Margaret Vizzard, Neurological Sciences

I earned a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Muhlenberg College in May of 2010.  At Muhlenberg College, I managed, conducted and presented an undergraduate research project investigating the neural 
substrates of learning and memory.  Following graduation, I joined the labs of Drs. Rae Nishi and Felix Eckenstein at the University of Vermont where I worked on an interdepartmental NIH Challenge Grant proposing that nicotine exposure alters adolescent cholinergic signaling resulting in long-term changes in rewarding pathways and cholinergic maturation. I joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Vermont on August of 2011 and I am excited to immerse myself in the expanding field of Neuroscience.

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David Harris

Mentor: Eugene Delay, Biology

I grew up in Newton and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wanting to get away, I went to Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota for my undergraduate education. I chose to study neuroscience thinking it would be a way to incorporate a number of my scientific interests, but I had no idea how much it would end up grabbing me.  I voraciously took as many neuroscience courses as I could, but when it came time to decide what I wanted my thesis to be about, I couldn’t settle on anything.  I decided to see if I could work in some of my non-scientific interests into my thesis research project.  I love food and cooking, so I decided to research taste neuroscience.  I was hooked and hope to continue looking into the mysteries of the taste system here, back on the east coast, at UVM.

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Gregory Johnson

Mentor: Jom Hammack, Psychological Sciences

I became interested in neuroscience after being involved in strength and conditioning at the collegiate level and asking questions about motor control and coordination. My studies in undergraduate biology and neuroscience at Williams College then got me interested in the neuroanatomical correlates of learning disorders that I came to study for two years in the lab of Doctors Albert Galaburda and Glenn Rosen in Boston. I now find myself interested in the effects that extrinsic factors such as stress, exercise, and nutrition have on brain function. Thus far, UVM seems like the perfect place for me to study aspects of science that interest me and enjoy the amazing outdoor landscape that Vermont has to offer.

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Alisha Linton

Mentor: Gary Mawe, Neurological Sciences

I grew up in the small town of New Windsor, Maryland. For undergrad I attended Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I originally attended Ithaca as a Film and Photography major, hoping to explore my creative passions and travel the world. After realizing that wasn't the career for me, I became very interested in science. My undergraduate research on cardiac neurons and heart disease initiated my interest in neuroscience. I am very excited to be at UVM! Outside of science I enjoy ballroom dancing, horseback riding, photography, baking and being in nature.

 

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Matthew McCabe

Mentor: Pierre-Pascal Lenck-Santini, Neurological Sciences

I grew up in Quincy, Illinois, a small town in central Illinois along the Mississippi river. For my undergraduate education, I attended the University of Missouri in Columbia where I earned a B.S. in Psychology. During my time in Missouri, I worked in the lab of Dr. Matt Will studying the effects of exercise on the mesolimbic reward pathway. For my senior thesis project I wanted to be exposed to a new world of research, so I conducted my thesis project under the supervision of Dr. Todd Schachtman. We designed projects studying the phenomenon of “specific hunger,” which is an animal’s drive to consume a particular flavor after it has been associated with recovery from nutritional deficiency. I chose the University of Vermont because of the diversity of research being conducted, the rich collaborative environment, the superb education available, and the beautiful scenery. Outside of the lab, I enjoy soccer, music, hiking, and Ultimate Frisbee.

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John McInnis

Mentor: Jeff Spees, Medicine

I received my B.S from Trinity College in Hartford CT, where I did a thesis on the oligodendrocyte signaling response to endoplasmic reticulum stress. After graduating, I worked for two years as a research assistant at Boston Children's Hospital. The lab was primarily interested in studying oligodendrocytes, other glia, and ErbB4 signaling. Outside of lab I spend most of my time rock climbing, skiing, or doing other various sports.

 

 


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Patrick Mullen

Mentor: Undecided 

I grew up in Potsdam NY, a small town near the Canadian border. I have always been a very energetic person, and living in a rural setting with proximity to the Adirondacks provided the perfect place for me to get outside and blow off some steam. I look forward to having that same opportunity in the beautiful state of Vermont.

Following high school, I attended St. Lawrence University, where I worked in Joe Erlichman's lab for two years, testing a novel nanoparticle treatment for multiple sclerosis. After earning a B.S. in neuroscience from St. Lawrence, I moved to Boston, where I took a position as a research assistant in the biochemistry department at Boston Medical Center. While at BU, I worked in the lab of Carmela Abraham, and used cellular models to study amyloid precursor protein – a protein thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.

My experience in research has been challenging, exciting, and rewarding. At UVM, I look forward to expanding and refining my understanding of neuroscience, with the goal of contributing to the body of scientific knowledge.

Aside from learning about the brain, my interests include kitties, playing soccer, cooking, drinking beer, cross-country skiing, and relaxing with friends.

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Megan Perkins

Mentor: Undecided 


Bio coming soon...


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Roman Popov

Mentors: Joshua Bongard, Computer Science and Jesse Jacobs, Rehabilitation & Movement Science

I received my Bachelor's degree in Statistical Physics from Voronezh State University, Russia, specifically focusing on the problem of signal recognition in "noisy" environments, which is generally applied in telecommunication. Similarities between electronic devices and the nervous system, as well as bewildering complexity of a human brain sparked my curiosity for neuroscience.
Choosing University of Vermont for my graduate school proved to be a great decision, as I found myself working under the supervision of Prof. Jesse Jacobs (a member of Human Motion Analysis Lab, Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science) and Prof. Joshua C. Bongard (a member of Complex Systems, Department of Computer Science). Using such techniques as electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), kinetic and kinematic recordings, as well as computational tools for optimization and modeling (evolutionary algorithms, artificial neural networks, and evolutionary robotics), our joint collaboration is aiming to understand neural control of step initiation and how it changes with aging and Parkinson's disease (PD). Moreover, our objective is also to show that autonomous robots can be employed to study human motor neuropathologies, like PD. These robots that learn to mimic human step initiation without human supervision (hence, autonomous) may provide a model of a person with PD. Comparing the function of a robotic "brain" and a human brain with PD might provide novel insights into what exactly is the reason for the motor symptoms of PD (bradykinesia, hypometria, tremors, start hesitation).
I was also given a chance to work towards the Certificate of Graduate Studies in Complex Systems. This is a short but intense five-course program covering topics on complex dynamic phenomena with emergent properties, evolutionary algorithms, chaos theory, artificial neural networks, etc., which complement the field of neuroscience rather nicely (find out more here: http://www.uvm.edu/~cmplxsys/). This certificate program is a great opportunity for anyone interested in multidisciplinary research to gain experience with computational and modeling methods.

Feel free to ask me questions about my work in the lab, Neuroscience Graduate Program and Complex Systems, and life in Burlington at (rpopov at uvm dot edu).

 

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ShipmanMegan Shipman

Mentor: John Green, Psychological Science

I grew up in Barre, Vermont and am excited to be back in my home state! I majored in psychology at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, and spent the past two years in Boulder, Colorado. During college, I knew that I was interested in research and immediately got involved in Dr. Kinho Chan's lab. There, I explored the effects of hippocampal lesion on trace conditioning and investigated how a high fat diet can affect cognitive performance. I presented at conferences and found that I loved being part of a lab. During the summer of 2010, I worked as a SNURF (summer neuroscience undergraduate research fellow) at the University of Vermont, where I examined how exercise can affect the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, an anxiety center of the brain. Outside of neuroscience, I enjoy hiking, playing soccer and snowboarding.

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SpearEstelle Spear

Mentor: Gary Mawe, Neurological Sciences

I grew up in Chardon, Ohio and attended Allegheny College in western Pennsylvania where I earned my B.S. in Neuroscience. As an undergraduate I conducted research on the neonatal mouse response to carbon dioxide with implications on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, under the supervision of Dr. Lee Coates. My senior thesis was completed at the Cerebrospinal Fluid Research Lab at the Cleveland Clinic, directed by Dr. Mark Luciano and Dr. Stephen Dombrowski. I used immunohistochemistry to evaluate astrocytic gliosis and axonal injury as a result of high frequency, low volume oscillations of intracranial pressure.

Through my undergraduate experiences, I came to enjoy the challenges and rewards of research, and decided that I'd venture from the Midwest (or, as they say up here, "The Flatlands") for graduate school. I chose Vermont because of the beautiful location and friendly atmosphere among the faculty and students. I recently joined Dr. Gary Mawe's lab, where I am investigating gastrointestinal dysfunction in the EAE model.

Aside from Neuroscience, other interests include hiking, skiing, knitting, and crocheting.

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Stephanie Spohn

Mentor: Gary Mawe, Neurological Sciences

I grew up in Michigan where I attended the University of Detroit Mercy and worked at Michigan State University. Through my undergraduate studies, I was able to work for two wonderful labs. At the University of Detroit Mercy I worked for Mark Benvenuto, Ph.D., studying the elemental composition of Korean coins and testing kelp supplements for heavy metals. During my summers I worked for Dr. Mark Kadrofske, MD, Ph.D., at Michigan State University studying intestinal epithelial wound healing. After earning my B.S., in biochemistry from the University of Detroit Mercy, I decided to continue my education and have joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program here at the University of Vermont. I joined the lab of Gary Mawe, Ph.D., in 2011 and have enjoyed the unique opportunity to study neuroscience in the gut. My thesis project will look at the role of the 5-HT4 receptor in animal models of colitis.

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RSRiley St. Clair

Mentor: Bryan Ballif, Biology

I grew up in the small town of Red Lodge, in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. I attended the University of Montana where I earned Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Psychology. While here, I joined a neurobiology lab, studying the mechanisms of glutamate receptor trafficking after ischemic stroke injury. I was also a teaching assistant for introductory chemistry and psychology courses where I discovered my love for teaching.
 
I joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program in 2013 and I am having an amazing time in Burlington and here at UVM! I joined Dr. Bryan Ballif’s lab, where we study cellular signaling pathways critical to neurodevelopment. We are specifically interested in the mechanisms underlying these signaling cascades, such as protein-protein interactions and phosphorylation events. I also collaborate with Dr. Alicia Ebert, using zebrafish as a model system to study cellular signaling in vertebrate eye development.
 
When I’m not studying, I love hiking, the Seahawks, and rock climbing. I also like to dabble in jewelry making and am teaching myself to play the guitar.

Abstracts

Byrnes, N, St. Clair, R, Beske, P, Jackson, D. Oxygen-Glucose Deprivation/Reperfusion Triggered Increase in GluR2 Ser880 Phosphorylation Involves NADPH Oxidase. Society for Neuroscience, 2012.

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Daniella Thorsdottir

Mentor: Undecided 

I was born and raised in Reykjavik, Iceland and lived there until I began my undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont where I completed a B.S. in Neuroscience in 2015. For my undergraduate research, I studied umami taste perception in mice using a classical conditioning methodology in Dr. Eugene Delay’s lab. Today, my research interests center mainly on the neural substrates of learning and memory, as well as the neurocircuitry of stress and anxiety. Outside of lab, I enjoy hiking, ice skating, tennis and traveling.
 

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Last modified September 02 2015 10:47 AM