Current Mentors

2021-2022 Mentor Bios

Evelyn Sturrock

I’m a senior from Rockville, MD majoring in Neuroscience, with minors in Psychology and History. I plan to pursue a PhD and a research/teaching career after graduating from Duke. I particularly love cell and molecular neurobiology, with emphasis on neuroimmune and neuroendocrine signaling during homeostasis and pathology. I currently work in Dr. Cagla Eroglu’s cell biology lab studying how the astrocyte-secreted synaptogenic molecule Hevin interacts with microglia during neuroinflammation.

Outside of class, catch me playing harp and managing money with the Duke Symphony, playing Animal Crossing, and going for walks in the gardens! I just spent this past summer working in my lab under the Summer Neuroscience Program here, and absolutely loved it! I have also spent previous summers completing the BSURF program here as a new scientist and with the Emory University Laney Graduate School doing professional development workshops.

Mia Grossman

Hi! My name is Mia and I am a junior from Los Angeles. I am pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Poli Sci while following a pre-med track. I have been pursing research and working in the Drea Lab since my sophomore fall. I am interested in neurodegenerative diseases, biological basis of social behavior, and medications in the brain. In the Drea lab I am working on research and a thesis. I am studying female social dominance patterns in different species of lemurs through comparative neuroanatomy and neuroendocrinology. Specifically the roles oxytocin and vasopressin play in modulating aggressive behavior in specific brain regions as it pertains to social status. Unlike most other animals, many lemur species are female social dominant where the females aggressively dominate the males and the species that are not female social dominant are co-dominant where neither sex aggressively dominants the other. I am studying specific brain regions and analyzing the receptor densities of the neurotransmitters to see if an increase or decrease in this concentration has a statistically significant effect on the social status.

My favorite hobby is probably going to the gym – I love to use this as an outlet to improve physical health and mental health. I have found that it always clears my head and makes me feel happier when I work out and go on runs. I recently completed my first half marathon! This summer I participated in the Summer Neuroscience Research Program at Duke where I continued my research with the Drea Lab and created a research poster. I spent my weekends this summer exploring different cities in the south- my favorite one I visited being Charleston!

Jane Zebrack

I am a junior from Reno, Nevada majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry and Biology, and I am pre-med. I am especially interested in the diagnosis and treatment of neuro-infectious diseases, as well as the exploration and destigmatization of mental health. I don’t work in a lab on campus, but I plan on doing a research independent study through the Neuroscience Department during my senior year.
Outside of academics, I love to dance! I am in two dance groups on campus—Devils En Pointe and Momentum Dance Company. I also enjoy writing for the Duke Chronicle, primarily stories about mental health and science communication. Since the fall of 2020, I have been working as a Clinical Research Assistant for Stanford School of Medicine Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS)/Immune Behavioral Health Clinic. I am helping with a few different projects, including assessing the neuro exams of patients and tracking the flares of patients since their first visit to the clinic. I also served as a mentor for the NIH Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) program, for which I guided two high school students in composing abstracts and presenting their findings on the relationship between elevated levels of vWF and d-dimer proteins with chronic arthritis and physical exam signs of vasculitis in PANS patients.

Preston Bowman

I am from Waco, Texas and majoring in neuroscience and minoring in Chinese language. I plan on going into research! I am interested in systems neuroscience and neural circuits. I work in a systems neuroscience lab that works with larval zebrafish and investigates visual system circuitry. I play the French horn and marched Drum Corps International with Phantom Regiment this summer!

Krislyn Cardoza

Hi! I am a senior from the Chicagoland area majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry and Global Health. I hope to begin medical school in the Fall ’22 as I have just completed the application process. While I am extremely excited to practice clinical medicine, I also hope to pursue research throughout medical school as well! I am extremely interested in addressing depression and anxiety disorders in patients who have recently received a cancer diagnosis. While it is extremely important to address cancer through chemotherapy and immunotherapy, I am also interested in maintaining the mental well-being of the patient throughout therapy and recovery. I have been working in the Deel Lab for the past three years on campus. The lab investigates potential therapies for pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of the muscles) with a heavy molecular biological focus. Specifically, I am interested in exploring the effects certain protein inhibitors have on the transcriptional profile and cell proliferation of rhabdomyosarcoma cells.
I love to cook in my free-time and explore different restaurants in Durham with my friends! The summer after my freshman year, I worked at a lab in Northwestern that was focused on immunotherapies for glioblastoma patients. Unfortunately, during the summer of 2020, COVID disrupted my research plans, so I took an online biochemistry course through Duke and prepared for my MCAT. This past summer, I completed the CURE program through Northwestern, where I had the opportunity to mentor a rising Freshman, attend cancer biology lectures, and participate in oncology data analysis for my lab.


Fahad Mohammed

My hometown is Hickory, NC. I am majoring in neuroscience and minoring in psychology and chemistry and am premed. I am very interested in the gut-brain link (microbiome)! I am in the Naumann Lab. Currently completing an Independent Study in which I will attempt to establish relational, integrative maps at cellular resolution to reveal how sugar and artificial sweeteners detected by EECs along the zebrafish gut activate downstream brain regions. I am interested by this because artificial sweeteners are a very controversial topic, and it is unclear whether they are recognized in the same way as normal sugars by the EEC in the gut.

My favorite hobby is rock climbing, and I spent last summer studying for MCAT/volunteering at a local free health clinic.


Hailey Reisert

I am a senior from Long Island, NY. I’m pursuing a Neuroscience major with minors in psychology and biology, and I am also pre-med! I am really interested in neurodevelopment, and I love learning about the social and biological processes involved in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders such as autism, ADHD, and depression. I’m a research assistant with the Duke Early Experience and Developing Brain Lab (DEED) under Dr. Michael Gaffrey, where I’ve spent the past 2+ years assisting with ongoing projects related to infant social development and preschool emotion regulation. My independent study project for my GWD in neuro involves examining the relationship between emerging hand preferences and language development among 9-24-month-old infants who have participated in the DEED Lab’s infant study.
My favorite non-academic hobbies are dancing, reading, and going to the beach. I spent this past summer studying for the MCAT, and I also returned as a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics research intern with Cohen Children’s Hospital in NY for my second summer. Throughout this internship, I collaborated on research manuscripts about trends of child abuse reporting during the pandemic, bullying involvement in children with developmental and mental health conditions of varying severity, and wandering behaviors in children with autism.


Liza Rooks

My hometown is Kailua, HI. I am a neuroscience major and chemistry minor. I am premed and currently applying to med schools. I am interested in the blood brain barrier, exercise, and neurological impacts. I work in a research lab at home.

My favorite hobby is guitar. I volunteer transporting patients in an army hospital and also do research in their clinical lab. Last summer I went to advanced camp for rotc and then did a medical shadowing internship in an army hospital in Japan!

Leslie Leal Palacios

I’m a senior from Monterrey, Mexico who grew up in Houston, Texas. I am majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry and Biology and am on the pre-medical track. I am most interested in the neuroscience behind psychological disorders/mental health/wellness as well as language learning and multilingualism. This is my second year on the Bass Connections research team Peer Coaches: Improving Mental Health Treatment for College students. We have launched a text-based service aimed at improving the mental health of Duke students through anonymous and trained peer coaches.
My favorite non-academic hobby is to learn Disney songs in French! I have participated in the Duke in Paris program over the summer where I studied in Paris for six weeks and took two French courses. During the same summer, I also traveled to the Marine Lab to take Organic Chemistry 202. During the summer of 2020, I took Physics 142 virtually while at home. During the summer of 2021, I focused on studying for the MCAT.

Ainsley Buck

I am from Greenwich CT. I am majoring in Neuroscience/Child Policy Research and intend to pursue a PhD in Child Clinical Psychology and establish a dual career in research and practice working specifically with young children with Autism. I am interested in neurodevelopment, early intervention and identification of early mood and developmental disorders (ASD specifically). I am in my 3rd year working at the DEED Lab. My work is currently focused on my honors thesis, which is investigating the neural correlates of non-clinical anxiety in early childhood.

I like to bake and read. I worked as a behavioral therapist for children with ASD last summer!

Soren Christensen

I’m a senior from Arlington, Virginia—right outside D.C. I’m double majoring in neuroscience and Japanese and minoring in chemistry (premed). I am interested in anything related to EEG analysis. I work in Dr. Miles Berger’s lab in Duke’s anesthesiology department where we focus on postsurgical memory problems (officially, postoperative cognitive dysfunction or POCD). I get to study EEG data collected during surgery, which has many, many more layers to it than I could have ever imagined! Our lab works closely with Dr. Marty Woldorff’s lab which specializes in EEG and fMRI analysis.

I like digital photo, video, audio editing! I love exploring my creative side by capturing the many details of life. Through these exercises, I’ve learned to view the world through different lenses and discover the stories of even the most seemingly insignificant things. The highlights of my summers have always been visiting my brother who lives in Atlanta. He’s big into flying, so we get to spend some quality time together in the air!

Neha Vyas

I am pursuing a Neuroscience major, with minors in both Hindi and Chemistry, and am also on the Pre-Med track. I call Los Angeles home and absolutely love California! I am extremely interested in neurodegenerative diseases, and understanding the mechanism behind these diseases. I strongly believe that molecular research investigating signaling pathways will help pave the way for future therapeutic targets, which can help ensure a higher quality of life for our elderly population. In addition, I am also interested in how environmental factors during childhood can affect the neurological system by causing alterations in neurological, endocrine, and inflammatory biomarkers. I currently work under the guidance of Dr. Gifford and Dr. Walsh at the Children’s Health and Discovery Initiative to investigate and evaluate the impact of adverse childhood experiences on neurological biomarkers (ACEs). My project involves exploring the impact of ACEs on BDNF protein levels in both the general population and specific clinical populations. Previously, I have worked in the La Spada Lab to understand the molecular signaling pathways implicated in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Specifically, I have extensively researched the role of the LRRK2 mutation in PD and how it affects autophagy pathways and leads to neural death.

I love to go running! I picked up this hobby during the pandemic, as it helped me relieve stress. I spent my freshman summer participating in the Huang Fellows Program. I used the summer to work in the La Spada Lab and begin my project exploring the impacts of LRRK2 on autophagy pathways. During my sophomore summer, I spent time virtually volunteering with Root Causes, a Duke Med run fresh produce program. I confirmed deliveries and was given the opportunity to help conduct patient surveys. The previous summer I participated in Duke Engage-India, and spent my summer researching the sociocultural motivations for uptake of WASH practices within slums in Ahmedabad, India.

Arsha Sharma

I’m from Charlotte, NC and I’m majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry and Global Health on the pre-med track. I’m interested in learning more about neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive function. I work at the Kay Lab which studies neural circuitry in the retina and the visual system. I work on analyzing retina samples with different genotypes to gain insight on synaptic connections. By understanding this aspect of neural circuitry, it can help us address developmental disorders.
I enjoy spending time outdoors, cooking, and hanging out with friends and family! The summer before my freshman year, I went and got to visit family in Himachal Pradesh, India. For the summer of my sophomore year, I was a Kenan Ethics Fellow where I looked at how Covid impacted local communities. This past summer I got the chance to help organize a part of the O-week experience for incoming freshman!

Aditya Kotla

Hello everyone! My name is Aditya Kotla and I am from Urbandale, Iowa. I am a junior majoring in Neuroscience, and minoring in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, and I am on the pre-med track. One field of neuroscience that I am interested in is neuroendocrinology, looking at imbalances in hormonal control that may lead to disease pathways such as diabetes or even inflammatory bowel disease. Some other fields that really interest me are neurolinguistics and neuro-opthalmology. I work in the Rawl’s Lab where I work with mice and zebrafish to study gut microbiota and hormonal fluctuations that may be key biomarkers for diabetes and IBD. A goal of mine is to be able to push this research towards neurobiology.
My favorite non-academic hobbies include playing with my dog, hiking, spending time with friends/family, and reading good books. I spent this last summer exploring the Everglades and Florida Keys, as well as traveling to surrounding states to visit family and friends. Alongside that, I did remote research in my lab so I got to gain experience with the computational side my work.

Anne Ilsley

I’m from Boston and majoring in neuroscience (BS, GwD track) with a Spanish minor. I am planning on going to grad school for neuroscience (PhD) or law school or both, as I am interested in the intersection of neuroscience and legal research and policy. I am interested in neurolaw, neuroethics, decision making/ neuroeconomics. I work in the Motivated Cognition and Aging Brain (MCAB) Lab. I am currently focused on the relationship between dopamine and preferences for equity in economic exchange. Broadly, I do research on decision making and the dopamine system.

I love being active outdoors (walking, hiking, running, etc). Previously I have spent summers continuing my work in the MCAB lab. This past summer I worked as a research assistant for the Mass General Hospital/Harvard Center for Law, Brain and Behavior doing research on recent legal cases involving neuroscience.

Carla Guedikian

Hi, I’m Carla and I’m from Los Angeles. I’m majoring in Neuroscience with minors in Biology and Chemistry, along with being pre-med. Within the field of Neuroscience, I’m very interested in language acquisition and the neuroendocrine axis. I do research at the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, focusing on the relationship between hormones involved in type 1 diabetes and their impact on the central nervous system. I am currently studying how glucagon and epinephrine interact with one another during hypoglycemia.

I love to play tennis and love to read! The summer after freshman year, I did DukeEngage Lebanon, in which I taught students SAT English and Math. This past summer I volunteered at a surgery center in Los Angeles and was actually able to observe some very interesting GI and ocular surgeries.

Emily Da Cruz

I am a junior from East Hanover, NJ. I’m majoring in neuroscience with minors in chemistry and Spanish while on the premed track. I hope to take a gap year after graduation, hopefully working in research, before attending medical school. I’m interested in cognitive neuro and also in neuroscience’s application to disease. I work in the Mikati Lab studying the genetic mutation underlying Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC). Currently, we are studying the toxicity and effectiveness of a potential treatment to address symptoms such as hemiplegia, dystonia, and seizures.

My hobby is working out! This past summer I participated in the Summer Scholars for Genome Sciences and Medicine program, doing molecular biology research in the Valdivia Lab. I also went to Hawaii!

Cammie Myers

I am from Spartanburg, SC and majoring in Neuroscience and minoring Chemistry (and potentially Sociology). I am pre-med! Within the field of Neuroscience, I am most interested in how the brain coordinates a diverse range of behaviors. More specifically, I am currently studying individual dopaminergic neuronal populations within the anterior cingulate cortex and their role in reward-based behavior. I am currently researching the dopaminergic pathways within the ACC’s affect on reward-based behavior in the Yin Lab at Duke! I joined in November 2020 and have since spent 2 semesters (spring and summer thus far, also in the fall right now) assisting my post-doctoral mentor in training the mice to perform both lever-pressing and reaching tasks to analyze the individual neuronal populations within the ACC during this reward-based behavior. I also use data-analysis programs such as MatLab and NeuroExplorer to analyze both the motion of the mice (whether velocity, angle of motion, length of motion, etc.) and stimulation level of the mice during the experiments. The Yin Lab as a whole focuses on goal-directed behavior and the brain.

Outside of academics, I love to spend time outside and paint (not necessarily at the same time, but my ideal day is probably painting on the beach). (ps I’m not an artist, the painting is purely for fun). Last summer (2020) I worked in the hospital and accrued clinical hours by working closely under a nutritionist to make sure that patients had their individual nutritional concerns addressed (such as making sure patients with certain esophageal disorders who are not able to swallow solid foods are assigned meals in a liquid form, etc). This summer (2021) I worked in the Yin Lab at the Duke Medical School to study the dopaminergic neuronal populations within the ACC (as fully explained above), while taking Physics 142 and studying for the MCAT (glad that’s done now!). On the more exciting side, I also traveled to California to visit different medical schools and see one of my best friends, and to Texas to visit friends from home. Next summer (2022) I hope to be in Guatemala serving those without access to healthcare or education with From Houses to Homes while also applying to medical school.


Celina Zhou

I am a senior from East Brunswick, NJ. I am double majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience and I’m also pre-med. I am particularly interested in the intersection of BME and Neuro (neural engineering), and the applications of medical devices within neuroscience related problems (i.e. spinal cord stimulation for spinal cord injuries, neural prostheses, deep brain stimulation). I work in the Grill Lab as a Pratt Research Fellow. I am currently working on modeling transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation in a human torso, and translating spinal cord stimulation parameters effective in an epidural animal model into a transcutaneous human model.

I like volleyball or lifting! I’ve conducted research in different programs for the past three summers. My freshman summer I participated in an REU program where I looked at ways to mitigate cybersickness in virtual reality environments. Sophomore summer (COVID summer) I was in a virtual research program back home where I studied adversarial machine learning against voice assistant systems. This past summer, I worked in my lab as a Pratt Research Fellow, where I worked on my current project!

Ashwin Subramaniam

My hometown is Charlotte, NC. I am majoring in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Sociology and premed with aspirations to practice psychiatry. I am interested in OCD + Schizophrenia/Psychosis and developing neuropharmacological treatments that target the brain circuits and neurotransmitters implicated in these disorders as well as optimizing scalability of NIBS applications in the realm of mental health. I used to work under the tutelage of Dr. Greg Appelbaum in the OPTI Lab. Here, I was involved in a project which aimed to optimize surgical residents’ abilities in completing an FLS training exercise (Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery) through eye-tracking analysis. The preliminary results were compared to those gathered from experts who completed the same training exercise, and subsequent trials were completed by the residents to determine whether their eye-movement patterns matched those of the experts at the end of the training setup. Currently, I’m working on a systematic review analyzing the effects that various NIBS (noninvasive brain stimulation) techniques have had on modulating visual cognition outcomes. This is my senior thesis project, and I hope to wrap it up early in the spring semester and get it published!

I enjoy watching and critically analyzing Desi cinema. Aside from that, I enjoy keeping up with current affairs/political + economic developments, watching basketball and cricket, and reading non-fiction!

During summer of 2021, I was a DoorDash Driver in Durham, Bass Connections Research, COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Volunteer, and In-Patient Nursing Unit Volunteer. During summer 2020, I launched a South Asian Entertainment Blog.

Mihika Rajvanshi

I am a Neuroscience major with minors in Linguistics and Chinese. I’m also on the pre-medical track. I’m really interested in the intersection of linguistics and neuroscience and enjoy cognitive neuroscience research! I’m interested in the intersection of neuroscience and linguistics, especially related to the question of infant language acquisition. I work in labs on campus. The first lab is the Bergelson Infant Language Acquisition Lab. I’ve been in this lab since my sophomore year and have examined what words infant hear most frequently. I’m also in the Gaffrey Lab through my Bass Connections project: Examining the Social Dynamics of Preschoolers. We look for evidence on balance theory in children as young as three years old.

I enjoy dancing and reading. I’m on Duke Rhydhun, Duke’s competitive Indian fusion dance team. This last summer I stayed in Durham and worked at the Gaffrey Lab! It was a great experience and I learned a lot about being independent in the lab.

CJ Tyson

Hi! I’m CJ!! I use he/him pronouns and I’m a junior from Carolina Beach, NC majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Music and Chemistry on the pre-med track. I’m specifically interested with the neurobiology and neurology aspect of the major and hope to pursue a career in neurology. I work in The Sanders Lab where we study the LRRK2 gene and how mDNA may affect Parkinson’s Disease.
I love to play cello and am also in the Duke Symphony Orchestra! I also live by the beach and like to surf and just hang by the beach! For the past two summers, I’ve worked as an ocean rescue lifeguard and beach EMT.

Anthony Tarakji

I am a junior majoring and Neuroscience and Minoring in Chemistry. I am from Glendora, California and am hoping to attend medical school in the future! I am interested in Cognitive and Circuit Neuroscience and the Neuroscience of Psychopathology. I work in the Hull Neurobiology lab where we conduct research on the neural circuitry of the cerebellum. We mainly focus on connecting the cellular layers and structures of the cerebellum with specific functions and behaviors in mice. We utilize some really cool methods like Optogenetics, Multi-Neuron Recordings, and behavioral assays for mice.
I love to play the piano! I’ve spent the last couple of summers spending lots of time with my family and exploring the natural sceneries of California, shadowing physicians, and working as a supporter on the Crisis Help Line.

Ana DeCesare

Ana DeCesare is a junior from Gulf Breeze, Florida. She is majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in psychology. After college, she wants to do scientific research that has a policy focus. Her goal is to either go onto medical school or be a professor. Ana is interested in adolescent abnormal psychology (ED, anxiety, depression, perfectionism), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s research. Worked in Duke Eating Disorder Lab my freshman year. I now work for the Cyberpolicy Research Team for the Sanford School of Public Policy. The focus of this group is to examine how new technologies impact society and how they should be regulated.
I love music! Singing, playing guitar, dancing to music. Last summer I was an intern for the Margolis Internship program.

Madeline Eckhardt

I am a senior from Poughkeepsie, New York. I’m a neuroscience major with minors in sociology and chemistry on the pre-med track. I am particularly interested in brain injury and neural plasticity following damage. I work in the Morey Lab with the VA hospital. Our primary work is on PTSD and mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) in veterans. I’m currently looking at how structural and functional deficits from mTBI may correlate with each other.
I love music and spending time with dogs (specifically the puppy kindergarten puppies). Last summer, I interned with Camp Kesem nationals tracking attendance from camps throughout the country.

Amanda Andriessen

I am from Sacramento, CA. I am majoring in Evolutionary Anthropology and Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry. I am on the premed track (MD or MD/PhD) and taking one gap year. I am interested in synaptic plasticity and neuroimmunology especially within neuro-oncology. I work in the Ji lab for Sensory Plasticity and Chronic Pain as well as the Donnelly lab. I am currently working on two projects. One is looking at the immune environment in spinal nerves post limb amputation and its relation to clinical outcomes. My senior thesis is looking at peripheral neuro-immune mechanisms that prevent bacteria to cross the BBB.

I like to hike! I have spent the last three summers all working in my same lab full time. I also took the MCAT during 2020 Summer and was in SNP this last Summer.

Jeffrey Galla

I am from Concord, NC (just outside of Charlotte). I am majoring in Neuroscience (BS) and minoring in Chemistry and Computational Biology. I am premed. I am particularly interested in neurostimulation (TMS/rTMS), brain machine interfaces, brain recording (EEG, fMRI), and human subject research. I worked in the Duke Human Optimization and Performance Lab (OptiLab) until Dr. Appelbaum’s departure from my fall semester freshman year until the conclusion of my sophomore year. The lab’s focus was on neurostimulation and optimizing human performance, with my specific areas of research being on how stimulating the mPFC with rTMS can indirectly modulate amygdala activity, thereby mitigating PTSD effects, in addition to a primer for primary care physicians on rTMS for smoking cessation. Now, I work with Dr. Jonathon Young with the VA in further areas concerning neurostimulation.

I love snowboarding, and consequently participate on Club Ski and Snowboard at Duke. We have practices 4 days a week during the fall semester, a winter break training trip, and 6 competitive race weekends during the spring semester. I have served as the Fitness chair, planning and organizing practices my sophomore year, and as safety officer my junior year. Other interests include serving as a Tour Guide on the Executive Board for the training team. Unfortunately, my summers are filled with working full time (60+ hours/week) in order to sustain my ability to pay the cost of Duke. Thus, the last three Summers I have worked full-time at a pool company in Charlotte as a regional supervisor, overseeing the day-to-day performance, maintenance, and upkeep of 50+ pools and 400+ staff in the Charlotte area. This summer, I hope to either receive an internship at a Brain Machine Interface start-up or become an EMT.

RJ Shah

I am a junior from Houston, TX studying Neuroscience and minoring in biology. I am pre-medical and am interested in the intersections between health and policy. I am interested in the neuroscience of addiction and addictive behavior. I currently work in Dr. Cynthia Kuhn’s neuropharmacology lab where we study the effects of cocaine on the different dopamine reward sensors in rats.
I like basketball!  I visited Cabo San Lucas and the Indian Himalayan region.

Han Mu

My name is Medy Mu, and I am a junior from Beijing, China. I am double majoring in Neuroscience and Statistics. I’m planning on pursuing a PhD in cognitive neuroscience or neurobiology after graduating from Duke. I am broadly interested in higher-level processing of auditory system and the genetic basis of astrocytes. I work in Dr. Overath’s lab since last summer. My project with Dr. Overath investigates how well a basic acoustic model can predict fMRI time-series signals to natural music. I am also planning to work with Dr. Eroglu next semester to investigate the genetic basis for the maturation of astrocytes.
My favorite non-academic hobby is playing drums and cross-stitching. I have worked in a marine science lab at Duke Marine Lab! It was a fun experience, and I got to meet a lot of new people there!

Yasha Kulkarni

I’m a senior from Birmingham, Alabama. I’m currently majoring in neuroscience with a minor in chemistry and also on the pre-med track. While all topics in neuroscience are fascinating, one area that really interests me is memory. When considering day to day processes, like decision making, it is interesting to see how emotions associated with past memories can alter an individual’s process in reaching a final decision. Learning about this connection between memories and decision making has interested me in all my classes that I have taken and it has been very educational learning about these processes in the big picture and also at the mechanism level. I started working at the CHANT lab with Dr. Neacsiu this semester. The lab focuses on misophonia, which is a condition where individuals exhibit a stress response when listening to common sounds that are unpleasant to them (chewing, water dripping, etc.). The main goal is to see differences in brain activity between individuals who have misophonia and those who experience emotional dysregulation. So far, what I have been doing at the lab is looking for studies and articles about misophonia in preparation for another project that the lab will be working on soon. We have also been proofreading grants before a final draft is created.
Whenever I get the chance, I love to keep up with and practice playing the Indian flute. I also love to relax by doing fun crafts with friends whenever we get the chance! Over the past few summers, I have worked in two labs. One of the lab’s focus was on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and determining an optimal drug combination that works to decrease tumor size when working with mice. I also worked in Dr. Cabeza’s lab for a summer and looked at the differences between semantic and perceptual memory representation in the brain and how these representations effect subsequent memory performance. Over the summer, I also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and spent some time with my little every week virtually.

Grace Qi

I am from Falls Church, Virginia and am a neuroscience major and premed student. I am interested in neurodegenerative disease. I am doing an independent study in a lab studying Alzheimer’s disease, and have been in the lab for almost a year now. My research involves the connections between memory loss, altered circadian rhythms, and altered metabolic states of the brain. I do mostly histology work and different immunoassays with tissue from the retina of the eye.

I love running, rock-climbing, and going to the farmer’s market. Last summer, I worked in a hospital as a patient safety associate, caring for patients and aiding nurses. I also did research in my lab. The summer before that, I stayed at home with my family.

Grace Lee

I am a junior from Atlanta on the pre-med track at Duke. I’m a Neuroscience major pursuing a certificate in Child Policy Research. I am interested in the basal ganglia and Parkinson’s Disease. I work in the Yin Lab, which focuses on the basal ganglia. My current project involves optogenetically stimulating different regions of the superior colliculus, which provides afferent signals to the basal ganglia, to better understand how different cell populations (VGlut2+ and PV+ neurons) in the superior colliculus effect and coordinate turning in mice. During optogenetic stimulation, we record the animals and track their movements with a program called DeepLabCut, allowing us to acquire precise measurements regarding their movement and thus develop a topographic map of turning angles corresponding to area of stimulation.
I love to hike (the Washington Duke trail is great!) and play the piano. The summer after my freshman year, I participated in the Huang Fellows Program conducting research on the olfactory tubercle, a part of the basal ganglia. The summer after my sophomore year, I participated in the Dean’s Summer Research Fellowship conducting research on the superior colliculus, a project that I am continuing this semester. In addition, I volunteered with Help Desk, a program that screens patients for their social needs such as food and housing insecurity and refers them to resources that can help them, during the summer after my freshman year. This past summer, I worked on expanding the program from Lincoln Community Health Center to Duke Health, specifically Duke Pediatrics and Duke Emergency Department. I hope to continue leading the program during the rest of my junior year and senior year.

Elissa Gorman

Hi, my name is Elissa and I am a junior from Boston, Mass pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in chemistry on the pre-med track. I have always been passionate about collecting and telling stories of human experience through the lens of journalist, researcher, and home health aide. I am involved with Duke Medical Ethics Journal, The Heart of Medicine Magazine, and am excited to get started with the Kwatra Lab, which is a Glioblastoma Drug Discovery Group. I have also worked in gerontological research with the Duke Roybal Center, served as a home health aide throughout COVID-19, and completed an analytical development internship with Allena Pharmaceuticals. As an aspiring physician, I am drawn to helping patients and families through difficult life transitions. I have explored many interests within the field of neuroscience. I am generally interested in the biology of mental health, the brain as an origin of human consciousness and how neural connections shape us, and the neurobiological implications of tumor growth.
I like reading, writing, and traveling! I’m always looking for a new read. I spent half of this past summer working in analytical development with Allena Pharmaceuticals. What drew me to this company is that the CEO is currently striving to develop drugs for his specific patient population. I love the idea of translational medicine and it was a great experience. I also worked in home healthcare, where I had the opportunity to meet many different clients and support them through new transitions in their lives. My time with a client undergoing hospice was particularly transformational and confirmed my desire to pursue a career in medicine. Before my freshman year, I was able to visit Greece with my family! As a huge Greek history and PJO nerd, this trip was awesome and I enrolled in Greek History with Dr. Joshua Sosin when I came to Duke.