• 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:

Reihane Abdollahi

I have been fond of biology since I was a little kid.  To this day I still enjoy taking pictures of insects in my free time.  Of course, when I was young I did not know much about biology or its many parts. When I was attending college the main concern for me was getting financially, at least to some level, independent. So, I studied radiography and I have worked since then. I was pretty sure that I intended to continue my education in a major that is more related to my interests. I decided to study physiology, but I had a very different vision for myself. During my Master's I found that I really liked neurophysiology and my dissertation was in this field. We investigated the effects of melatonin on the PTZ-induced neurons. I worked on garden snail ganglions and recorded their electrical activity, which was fascinating to me. Out of my own passion and also courage from some of my professors, I decided to come to UVM to pursue neuroscience at higher levels. There are many subjects in this field that I am eager to learn about or work on. Yet, issues that engage the everyday lives of humans like stress, anxiety, emotions, and decision making are top of my list! I also like areas related to mood and personality disorders.  Regardless of the specific subject, studying the brain is fun!

Caitlin Allan

I grew up in a rural town in Vermont called Fletcher. From there I went to UVM as an undergraduate where I obtained a BS in neuroscience and double minored in molecular genetics and psychology. As an undergraduate I started out working under Dr. Patricia Prelock as a research assistant on narrative book reading as an at home intervention for parents to help develop theory of mind skills in autistic children. After the theory of mind project, during my senior year I worked on a literature review and a capacity building and foundational project involving the autistic community in Vermont and healthcare transition from pediatric to adult healthcare. During this time, I also worked on the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study under the principal investigators, Dr. Alexandra Potter and Dr. Hugh Garavan. At ABCD I worked with adolescents and their parents by administration of self-report surveys and neurocognitive tasks done in the MRI and on an iPad. I look forward to continuing my learning here at UVM and hope to learn more about other aspects of and technical skills for neuroscience.

When I am not focusing on science, I can be found playing disc golf on some of the local courses here in VT, cuddling up with my cat, or crocheting in a hammock outside!

Christian Arntsen

My name is Christian and I’m from a small beach town in Massachusetts named Manchester-by-the-Sea. During my undergraduate years, I obtained a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Vermont. It was during these four years when my passion for behavioral neuroscience flourished. This motivated me to get involved with the Toufexis Laboratory where we studied habit formation in rats. This undergraduate experience had a big impact on my future career aspirations and I continued to work in the Toufexis Lab after graduation as a Research Assistant. During this time, I aided the investigation into the role of gonadal sex hormones in a key sex difference during habit formation.

I chose NGP as my next step because of the supportive and collaborative nature of the program and its graduate students, something I believe is so important for successful research. Outside of the lab,I really enjoy movies, dogs, and learning languages. Some of my recent hobbies have been plant care and getting better at cooking!

Joseph Charles

Mentor: Travis Todd, Psychological Science

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.

Nick Fontaine

Mentor: Jom Hammack, Psychological Science

I grew up in Norwich, CT before earning a B.S. in Neuroscience here at UVM. While in undergrad I worked with Dr. Hugh Garavan. Upon gaining entry to the NGP I switched over from human to animal research to work with Dr. Jom Hammack to study the neurobiological underpinning of anxietly-like and depression-like behaviors. The collaborative and welcoming nature-as well of my love for Burlington-drove my decision to join the NGP and stay at UVM.

Outside of lab, I enjoy cooking, baseball, and playing with my cat named Hot Dogs."

Tynan Gacy

After exploring psychology at a community college near my hometown of Lafayette, Colorado, I found a special passion for the brain and its intricacies. I left to pursue a B.A. in neuroscience from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana where I became particularly interested in neurodegenerative diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. While at Earlham I participated in a summer research program at Cornell University working for Dr. Michelle Tong and Dr. Thomas Cleland. There, we investigated the effects of perineuronal nets on long-term memory in mice and later presented our findings at the Society for Neuroscience in the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience poster session.

I wanted to join the NGP at UVM because of its interdisciplinary nature. Neuroscience exists in the confluence of biology, chemistry, psychology, and other fields, so studying it necessitates a scientifically comprehensive approach. While my interests in neuroscience are extremely broad, I am most interested in studying dysfunction in the dopaminergic pathway, especially its culpability in neurodegeneration. When I am not in the lab I can be found hiking, playing tabletop games with my partner Susannah and friends, or hanging out with our gremlin of a cat.

Emma Hambright

I was born and raised in Newburyport, Massachusetts before going on to attend the College of Wooster.  At Wooster, I earned my B.A. in Neuroscience (BCMB) while playing field hockey and lacrosse on the DIII level.  Before my senior year of undergrad, I traveled to Costa Rica with my mentor, Dr. Laura Sirot, for my capstone thesis project to study mosquito blood feeding behavior and analyze how this could potentially affect arboviral disease transmission.

After graduating via Zoom in May of 2020, I left the cornfields and cows of Ohio for the skyscrapers and pigeons of New York City where I have been a Laboratory Technician in Dr. Karin Hochrainer’s lab at Weill Cornell Medicine BMRI for the past three years.  In this position, I have worked to characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying the brain’s response to ischemic stroke, with specific focus on investigating the impacts that post-ischemic ubiquitination induction has on the protein level within the brain.  While I have greatly enjoyed my time in NYC, I am excited to change scenery once again for the natural beauty of Vermont! 

Outside of the lab, I love to spend time outdoors hiking and running.  I also love to read books, play video games, collect plants (they have a 27% chance of survival in my hands), walk around thrift stores looking for cool glassware, and spend time with my cats, Jack and Bean (currently teaching them how to play fetch)!

Emery Harlan

While I was growing up in Delano, Minnesota, every summer, my family and I would travel to National Parks across the U.S. To date, I have visited over 80 National Parks, which started my interest in the natural world. Since then, I have continued my interests pursing B.S. degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology at Christopher Newport University (CNU) in Virginia. During my first semester at CNU, I joined Dr. Lipatova’s ‘Hormones and Behavior Lab’ investigating how stress and estrogen influence learning and memory in rats. I’ve worked on both spatial learning and memory tasks, using an open-field tower maze (OFTM), as well as operant conditioning tasks, using touchscreen chambers. My background consists mostly of behavioral neuroscience; however, I am looking forward to expanding my understanding to other aspects of neuroscience while in the NGP.

University of Vermont provides a great intersection between research that I find interesting, collaboration among professors, and a connection to the natural world. While not thinking about research, I enjoy learning information about random topics, and playing a wide variety of video games, including virtual reality games.

Ryan Hunt

Mentor: Marilyn Cipolla, Neurological Sciences

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!

Ari Kropf

I was born and raised in the south but am joining the NGP by way of Brooklyn, New York. I spent the last seven years working in the clinical research and biotechnology industries with a specialty in neuroscience indications, further focusing on neurodegenerative pathologies and rare and orphan disease. Some indications I have worked on include Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, sleep disorders, migraine, and Rhett syndrome. Most recently, I was the Clinical Study Manager for a pivotal Phase 3 study working towards the first potential treatment for Charcot Marie Tooth Type 1A, a rare genetic peripheral neuropathy. Prior to working in industry, I received my B.S. in Biology, Biomedical Emphasis, from Mary Baldwin University. While there I participated in research investigating the mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis. I completed my thesis developing novel primary neuron models for testing the effects of oxidative stress in the asian musk shrew, an effort to better understand Parkinsonian neurodegeneration. I hope to build on both my bench experience and insights from industry during my time with the NGP. I am always trying out a new hobby, but some of my favorites are making art and crafts and maps, creative writing, and game mastering for my friends.

Jacob Kay

Mentor: Travis Todd & Jom Hammack, Psychological Science

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and this is my first time living outside of California! Part of what drew me to UVM was the natural beauty of Vermont, and experiencing real seasons has been a treasure. 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 haven't regretted it since! My neuroscience interests are quite broad since I come from a mixed academic & professional background, but I’m most excited by uncovering how maladaptive behavior is defined by changes at the circuit & neuronal levels – particularly with regards to conditions like addiction, depression, and anxiety. Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking, horror movies, video games, hiking, and cheese.

Collin MacLeod

I grew up in Scarborough, Maine, just south of Portland.  As an undergrad, I attended Providence College, earned my B.A. in biology and psychology, and was a member of the school’s selective neuroscience program.  In my psychology courses, I always found development and degeneration fascinating; however, I found myself becoming increasingly interested in the cellular and molecular components.  This curiosity prompted me to officially declare a biology major my junior year; since that, my research interests have stayed in the ballpark of investigating the cell/molecular aspects of nervous system development/degeneration.

In my junior year, I worked with Dr. Joe DeGiorgis studying the distribution of amyloid precursor protein (APP) using non-transgenic goldfish spinal cords.  It was through this introduction that I fell in love with neurobiology research.  In my senior year, I worked with Dr. Ileana Soto on Niemann-Pick Type-C (NPC), a childhood dementia-like disease, using a mouse model.  Specifically, my main projects involved investigating the cellular and molecular neurodevelopmental deficits that precede Purkinje cell loss.

I chose the NGP because of the close mentorship, the classes offered aligning with my research interests, and the great teaching opportunities.  Outside the lab, I am a huge soccer fan and enjoy golfing, skiing, and hiking.

Abby Myers

Mentor: James Stafford, Neurological Sciences

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.

Clemens Probst

Mentor: Mark Nelson, Pharmacology

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.

Jamie Reulbach

Mentor: Abbie Johnson, Neurological Sciences

I'm Jamie Carolyn Reulbach, and I graduated with a B.S. in Biology from William Paterson University in New Jersey. During my undergraduate years, I worked with Dr. David Freestone in his psychology lab where we studied interval timing in mice. Through this work I gained a great appreciation for learning and decision making studies, and by the time I graduated I had decided I wanted to pursue a career in Neuroscience. My Independent Study / Honors Thesis was on the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on interval timing precision in mice, however I also built a new prototype operant chamber and made a small literature review presentation on the intersection between Biology and Computer Science. I decided on the University of Vermont's NGP because of the passion I saw from its staff and graduate students as I spoke with them about our research and aspirations. Outside of the lab I love creative writing and playing video games.

Lillian Russo-Savage

Mentor: Gary Mawe, Neurological Sciences

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

My interest in neuroscience began as a teenager as I started learning psychopharmacology on an amateur level. I grew up in Massachusetts, then traveled to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to major in behavioral neuroscience. There I studied the role of the antidiuretic hormone vasopressin following blast-induced traumatic brain injury. Afterwards, I returned to the Boston area to the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Harvard Medical School to characterize a novel PET radiotracer for tau in neurodegenerative populations. My current research focuses on how the ion channel TRPV1 mediates stress-induced micturition reflex dysfunction. When not in the lab, I am likely reading by the waterfront or exploring Vermont with friends.

Abigail Testo

Mentor: Julie Dumas, Psychiatry/Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit

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.

Skyler Younger

I grew up in small-town Aurora, Oregon and graduated from nearby school George Fox University with a bachelor's degree in Cell and Molecular Biology. As a student, I interned in Dr. Jacob Raber's behavioral neuroscience lab at Oregon Health and Science University. While there, I helped validate a mouse model for FoxG1 syndrome and assisted in the behavioral scoring of mice exposed to radiation to simulate chronic space radiation. After graduation, I worked as a research assistant in Dr. Jake Estes immunopathology lab at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. During my three years in Dr. Estes' lab, I’ve helped  manage active projects with rhesus macaques (RM), collect RM tissue during biopsies and necropsies, cut FFPE blocks to create slides for many different types of human and RM tissues, perform both chromagen and fluorescent IHC and ISH staining, and utilize an image analysis program. My primary projects explored the microenvironments surrounding simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) reservoirs. One major project involved determining whether an asset designed to disrupt the follicular dendritic cell network of B-cell follicles, a known SIV reservoir, would impact viral rebound after stopping antiretroviral therapy in an RM model. During another notable project, I worked on optimizing a cyclical ISH fluorescence panel designed to determine the intactness of the SIV genome. While I enjoyed my time in the world of immunology, I look forward to returning to neuroscience. Coupled with the beauty of Vermont, I chose to attend UVM because of its welcoming environment, passionate mentors, and plethora of intriguing research opportunities.

Outside the lab, I like to spend time with my cats, Nyx and Gingersnap, play board games, and go bouldering.