• Theresa Legan
    Mentor: Gary Mawe, Neurological Sciences

  • Callum Thomas
    Mentor: John Green, Psychological Science

  • Patrick Mullen
    Mentor: Christopher Francklyn, Biochemistry & Alicia Ebert, Biology

NGP Current Students:

Melissa Boucher

Melissa Boucher

Mentor: Jom Hammack, Psychological Science

I grew up in Danbury, Connecticut and then earned my B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Quinnipiac University. At Quinnipiac, I worked in Dr. Todd Ahern’s lab, where I studied the neurobiology of social behavior, specifically family dynamics and sex differences. Upon graduating, I accepted a position as a research assistant at Yale University School of Medicine, where I worked with Dr. Daeyeol Lee. There, I studied the neurophysiology of high-level decision-making behavior and examined the antidepressant effects of various drugs.

I was drawn to the NGP’s culture of collaboration, broad research interests, and warm, welcoming environment. Outside of the lab, I enjoy running, photography, and listening to music.

Jeffrey Brabec

Mentor: Matt Mahoney & Rod Scott, Neurological Sciences

I grew up in Raton, a town in Northern New Mexico six miles south of the Colorado border. I received my B.S. in Biochemistry from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. In my last year and a half at Juniata I worked in the lab of Dr. Regina Lamendella, helping to conduct environmental and human 16S microbial studies. I completed my senior thesis on arsenic’s influence in shaping the gut microbiome of a disadvantaged population in Nepal. I first became interested in Neuroscience after reading the book “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge. I was fascinated with the brain’s ability to bounce back from injuries or to maintain relatively normal function after traumatic events. Since then my interests have shifted more toward the study of neurodegenerative disorders, though I am excited to discover new areas of Neuroscience!

I chose UVM for the highly collaborative environment, the student-centric approach of the faculty and the strong bonds between the students in the program. Outside of lab I enjoy running, reading, trying new beers and trivia nights.

Joseph Charles

Mentor: Undecided

Originally from Mystic Connecticut, I came to UVM for undergrad and earned a B.S. in biochemistry. I started participating in research at the end of my senior year, which led me to start an accelerated master’s program in pharmacology here at UVM. Over the year and a half, I spent in the lab I fell in love with the scientific process and research as a whole. Following the defense of my master’s thesis, I started a project that spanned the labs of Dr. Wolfgang Dostmann and Dr. George Wellman. This project was my first foray into the world of neuroscience as it has developed into an investigation of anti-nociceptive properties of CBD with respect to the TRPV.1 channel. I was instantly hooked.

I am interested in many facets of neuroscience but would like to eventually work in the field of affective disorder research. I would like to build a tool kit that allows me to vertically integrate from receptor pharmacology all the way up to complex behavior and learning. When looking at schools I was drawn to this program because of the wide breath of techniques and areas of interest, as well as the collaborative nature of the UVM neuroscience department.

Erin Cullen

Erin Cullen

Mentor: Matthew Weston, Neurological Sciences

I grew up outside Rochester, NY and received my B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. My research journey began during my first year there and I went on to spend two and a half years in Dr. Kirk Erickson’s lab, examining the impacts of physical activity on gray matter structure in adults. Within neuroscience, I am most interested in determining the causes and consequences of abnormal brain activity, especially in epilepsy and psychiatric disorders. I also dream of doing research that bridges discoveries on the neuroimaging side of the field with the research being done in animal models and cell culture. These interests, along with the strength of UVM’s research program, led to me choosing UVM for my graduate studies. Outside the lab, I enjoy skiing, cycling, rock climbing, and travel.

Nick Fontaine

Mentor: Jom Hammack, Psychological Science

I was born and raised in Norwich, Connecticut and completed my bachelors in neuroscience here at UVM. During my time as an undergraduate I worked in the lab of Dr. Hugh Garavan ensuring the quality of neuroimaging data from a longitudinal study looking at development and addiction—among many other things. To this point, all my research experience has been in human neuroimaging. However, I am excited to gain experience in other aspects of neuroscience during my first year in the NGP.

Outside of the lab I like cooking, hiking, biking, finding new music, and just generally taking in all that Burlington has to offer.

Harrison Hsiang

Harrison Hsiang

Mentor: Margaret Vizzard, Neurological Sciences

I grew up in a tiny little New Jersey town, although Vermont has been my home for a while now. While doing my undergrad at Middlebury College, I investigated sleep function with Dr. Michael Dash. This set me on the path of scientific research. As a former “Why?” kid, the prospect of making a career on asking more questions was too exciting. And like all people that come to Vermont, I didn’t want to leave! I’m so excited to be here with the lovely people of UVM. In broad strokes, my interests lay in sleep and cognition. Outside of the lab, the predominating passions are cooking, reading, and making music with my band, The Giant Peach.

Ryan Hunt

Mentor: Undecided

I grew up in Ishpeming, a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After high school, I received my B.S. in Neuroscience and B.S. in Physiology from Michigan State University. During my undergrad I joined Dr. Galit Pelled’s laboratory which focuses on researching neuroplasticity and developing neuromodulation technology. During my undergraduate research and year as a lab tech in Dr. Pelled’s lab I was lucky to be introduced to a wide range of neuroscience techniques. I also worked with many unique animal models such as octopus, pigs, and glass catfish. In addition to my experience at Michigan State, I interned in Dr. Alan Koretsky’s laboratory at the NIH where I worked on tracking peripheral immune cell penetration of the brain using MRI tracking technology.

I came to Vermont because of the fantastic mentors, excellent research and collaborative environment the NGP fosters. While here I plan on coupling my past experiences and interests with a new focus on brain blood flow. Besides science, I love spending time outdoors (running, climbing, snowboarding, or anything), reading books not related to science and most importantly spending time with my cat.

Jenan Husain

Mentor: Benedek Erdos, Pharmacology

Ever so adventurous, my family moved around a lot when I was growing up. As a result, my childhood was a mix of growing up in India and United States. Having the opportunity to experience both worlds, I decided to pursue my undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where I received double bachelors in Psychology and Education Sciences. During my time at UCI, I discovered my intrigue with memory, so I joined Dr. Susanne Jaeggi's "Working Memory and Plasticity" lab. There, I investigated the cognitive underpinnings of the changes caused by memory training. Later, I joined the Experimental Psychology master's program at California State University, Fullerton, where I conducted behavioral neuroscience research in Dr. Adam Roberts's lab. There, I investigated memory formation in larval zebrafish with the goal of creating whole-brain engrams and measuring changes in memory-related synaptic structure. Now, I am hoping to delve deeper into how different types of brain dysfunctions affect memory. This pursuit of knowledge brought me to UVM for further studies. Aside from research, I like to wind down with some cooking, reading, writing, and going on leisure walks. More recently, I have also tried my hand at painting so I am really excited to paint some of the beautiful landscapes that Vermont has to offer!

Jacob Kay

Mentor: Undecided

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and this will be my first time living outside of California! Part of what drew me to UVM was the natural beauty of Vermont, and (for now at least) I’m excited to experience my first real winter soon. For my undergrad, I studied Chemistry at UC Berkeley, and my experience in some elective cognitive science and pharmacology courses inspired me to add Neurobiology as a second major in my junior year. Shortly after graduating, I joined a pharmaceutical company as an analytical chemist and developed chromatography and mass spectrometry methods for a wide variety of drugs.

My dual nostalgia for neuroscience and being a student in general grew alongside my research, laboratory, and publication skills until I decided eight years later that it was time to apply to grad school. The welcoming, collaborative, and interdisciplinary environment of the NGP that I witnessed during my interviews led me to accept UVM’s offer, and I’m thrilled for this collection of big life changes to unfold! My neuroscience interests are quite broad as I start the program, but I’m most excited to learn more about how changes at the cellular level impact behavior – particularly with regards to conditions like addiction, depression, and anxiety. Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking, horror movies, video games, hiking, and cheese.

Montana Kay Lara

Mentor: Matt Mahoney & Rod Scott, Neurological Sciences

I received my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Political Science from California Lutheran University. As an undergraduate, I earned a fellowship to conduct genetics research in the lab of Dr. David Marcey investigating the effects of specific mutations on head and eye development in fruit flies. Prior to coming to UVM, I worked as a clinical research analyst under Dr. Eva Gordon, where I helped develop a method for measuring patient outcomes and assisted in case work identifying investigative treatment options for neurology and oncology patients.

Having grown up in Hawaii and living in Southern California, I appreciate living in a beautiful place and I am so excited to now call Vermont home. Outside of research, I like bikes and all things outdoors, as well as yoga and good music.

Theresa Legan

Theresa Legan

Mentor: Gary Mawe, Neurological Sciences

I earned my B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience from Williams College. After graduation, I stayed at Williams for three years to work as both the assistant softball coach and a research assistant in Dr. Matt Carter’s lab studying the neural basis of homeostatic systems. I am globally interested in studying the brain through a systems and circuits perspective. I chose the University of Vermont because of the program’s commitment to thorough and multidisciplinary training, as well as the beautiful location in Burlington, VT. Outside of school, I like being outside, running on trails, playing with dogs, and reading.

Pranav Mathkar

Mentor: Matthew Weston, Neurological Sciences

I grew up in the historic city of Pune in India, where I earned my undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical sciences from University of Pune. While there, I was interested in identifying the effective ways for targeted drug delivery, which resulted in my thesis on formulation of fluconazole niosomes for fungal infections. Then I decided to join California State University Channel Islands to pursue MS in biotechnology and bioinformatics. I received a scholarship from California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, and did my master's thesis on Huntington's disease at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. After graduation, I continued to work at Cedars Sinai and expand my research scope to different neurological disorders. This experience has led to my transition to neuroscience and the subsequent journey to UVM. Besides lab, I have a borderline obsession with books and video games. I love to spend my weekends cooking or baking something delicious all the while lip syncing to awesome music. When not locked in my apartment, I enjoy traveling to and exploring obscure locations.

Abby Myers

Mentor: Undecided

I spent my childhood in a small town outside of Pittsburgh called Indiana, Pennsylvania. After my senior year of high school, my family and I moved to Madison, Connecticut, and most enjoyed our new proximity to the ocean. I then moved about an hour north of Madison to work toward my B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Hartford. Here, I studied astrocyte-related neurodegeneration under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Koob, and I conducted my senior honors thesis on the effects of α- and γ-synuclein on apolipoproteinE in human cortical astrocytes.  To this point, my experience has been limited to in vitro experimentation, but I am looking forward to learning several new neuroscience techniques during my time in the NGP.

I chose to attend UVM because of the various research opportunities and supportive environment, but the location is certainly a plus. I am excited to track down the best hiking trails, beaches, and breweries. When I’m not working on campus, you’ll likely find me spending time outdoors, calling my friends and family, or standing in line at Ben and Jerry’s.

Dan Peipert

Mentor: Dimitry Krementsov, Biomedical and Health Sciences

After growing up in Barrington, Rhode Island and St. Louis, Missouri, I studied neuroscience as an undergraduate at UVM. For my undergraduate thesis, I studied smoking behavior in Dr. Stephen Higgins’ lab at the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health. More recently, I worked at with Dr. Elijah Stommel  at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where I researched gene-environment risk factors for ALS. After roughly 7 years in the state, I consider Vermont my true home. This, along with the program’s  student-focused environment, lead me to choose the NGP at UVM. Outside of the lab, I enjoy skiing, running, rock climbing, cooking, and strategy games.

Megan Perkins

Megan Perkins

Mentor: Margaret Vizzard, Neurological Sciences

Hi there! I was born and raised in Georgetown, Texas (outside of Austin) and completed my bachelors in psychology at the University of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Being from Texas, it is exciting, and slightly intimidating, to have such an environmental change. Apparently, I have never seen “real” snow before, so my first northern winter in Vermont should be an interesting, hopefully exciting, experience.

I am very excited and honored to begin my graduate training here at UVM. This university attracted me because of the stimulating, diverse, and fascinating research taking place here, along with the exceedingly helpful, driven, and intelligent faculty. Previously, I worked with a cognitive psychologist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, specifically in the field of behavioral economics. Although interesting, I do not plan to continue this work.

I have a wide variety of interests, primarily relating to cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. I would like to explore the cellular and molecular sides of neuroscience as well.

Outside of school I enjoy playing and listening to music, yoga, adventuring the great outdoors, surfing, tennis, various arts, photography, and reading. I am also very excited to try my hand at winter sports—especially ice skating.

McKenna Perry

Mentor: Denise Peters, Rehabilitation and Movement Science

I was born and raised in the mountains of northern Georgia. My undergraduate years were spent at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where I earned a B.S. in Neuroscience. During my time at Mercer, I aided Dr. David Goode in drug synthesis research and assisted Dr. Bill Jenkins in studying the effects of repeated caffeine exposure on sexual behavior in female rats. My first introduction to UVM was through their Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship that I participated in before my senior year of undergrad. While a SNURF, I worked with Dr. John Green to investigate the role of the cerebellum in goal-directed behavior. My time in the Green lab showed me collaborative, closely-knit community here at UVM that motivated me to be a graduate student here. When I’m not in the lab, you can find me making bracelets, reading, painting, sketching, or walking about with my adorable dog, Cooper.

Clemens Probst

Mentor: Undecided

I am originally from Berlin, Germany but I have lived in the U.S. for the past 15 years. I had my first encounter with neuroscience while completing my undergraduate honors thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Geert DeVries at UMass Amherst, where I studied the role of the sexually dimorphic vasopressin system during brain development and behavior.

Prior to joining the NGP, I worked as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Andrew Tager at Mass General Hospital, where I studied the mechanisms of ongoing lung injury and vascular leak in the development of lung fibrosis. Subsequently, I spent two additional years in the lab of Dr. David Kwiatkowski at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where I focused on genetic/epigenetic analyses of tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) associated tumors.

Outside of the lab, I spend most of my time playing sports, hiking the trails of the Green and White Mountains and training for a backup career as a professional Age of Empires player.

Lillian Russo-Savage

Mentor: Undecided

I was born and raised in Montpelier, the booming capital of Vermont. I earned my B.S. in Neuroscience and Psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Before graduating I worked on endocrinology and addiction based research in the laboratory of Dr. Luis Martinez. In addition, I completed a thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Susan Masino and Dr. David Ruskin. This project was focused on the effects of adenosine signalling and the ketogenic diet on repetitive behaviours associated with autism spectrum disorder.

After graduating, I joined the neuropeptide lab at UCONN Health in Connecticut, under the supervision of Dr. Richard Mains & Dr. Betty Eipper. In their laboratory, I worked on a collaborative Alzheimer’s Disease project that focused on the role of the protein Kalirin in disease onset and development.

Before coming to UVM for the NGP, I also spent time in the laboratory of Dr. Ira Schulman at UVA in Charlottesville, Virginia. There, I studied the effects of a specific mutation to the ligand binding site of Liver X Receptor in mice.

As evidenced by my past experiences, my scientific interests are broad. However, I look forward to seeing where these interests take me in my future research with the program.

Amanda Sidwell

Mentor: Kalev Freeman, Surgery

I've always been fascinated by the neurobiology underlying brain function and dysfunction. I graduated from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania with a BS in behavioral neuroscience. My research focus was preclinical drug development for traumatic brain injury, specifically examining vasopressin receptor antagonists. After graduating, I moved back to Boston to work for Massachusetts General Hospital as a clinical research coordinator. During my time at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, I worked on characterizing the pharmacokinetics of a novel radiotracer for tau protein using simultaneous PET/MRI scanning. At UVM, I will be exploring adolescent brain cognitive development over time. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me by the river with a book or eating cheese.

Abigail Testo

Mentor: Undecided

I grew up on a small farm in rural upstate NY; as an extremely energetic kid my mom was always sending me outside to play with the animals, practice for sports games, or just run around to my heart's content.  That time spent outside instilled in me a deep appreciation for nature that made me jump at the opportunity to pursue graduate study in the beautiful state of Vermont.

Prior to coming to UVM I earned my B.S. in neuroscience at Union College.  During my senior year at Union I worked in Dr. Dave Hayes’s lab where we utilized MRI images to research structural changes in the brains of Major Depressive patients. After graduation, I moved to Boston, where I took a position as a research assistant in the division of neurotherapeutics at Massachusetts General Hospital in the lab of Dr. Darin Dougherty.  During my time at MGH I worked on several projects researching neurotherapeutic interventions, such as Deep Brain Stimulation, for treatment resistant psychiatric disorders.  These experiences helped me discover my love of research, which is what led me to UVM.  When I’m not in the lab I enjoy hiking, yoga, and woodworking.

Callum Thomas

Callum Thomas

Mentor: John Green, Psychological Science

I grew up in Waterville, a small city in central Maine along the Kennebec River. I earned my B.A. in Neuroscience from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. During my final year, I conducted research on the impact of the emotional regulation technique Cognitive Reappraisal. This experience led me to my interests in emotion, cognitive function, and imaging. After interviewing at UVM, I was impressed by the culture of collaboration and support for the students that the NGP offers. Outside of the lab, I enjoy swimming, biking, eating, and exploring the local brewery scene.